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The Keyboard

The keyboard offers another way to communicate with your computer. In addition to typing text and numbers, you can also use it to choose menu commands.

There are three types of keys on a Mac OS keyboard:

  • Character keys, such as letters, numbers, and symbols, are for typing information. Some character keys have special functions, as listed in Table 1.

    Table 1 Special Character Keys



    Enters information or "clicks" a default button.

    Begins a new paragraph or line or "clicks" a default button.

    Advances to the next tab stop or the next item in a sequence.

    Deletes a selection or the character to the left of the insertion point.

    Deletes a selection or the character to the right of the insertion point.

    "Clicks" a Cancel button or ends the operation that is currently in progress.

  • Modifier keys alter the meaning of a char ac ter key being pressed or the meaning of a mouse action. Modifier keys are listed in Table 2.

    Table 2 Modifi er Keys



    Produces uppercase characters or symbols. Also works with the mouse to extend selections and to restrain movement in graphic applications

    Produces special symbols.

    Accesses menu commands via keyboard equivalents.

    Modifi es the functions of other keys and displays contextual menus.

  • Function keys perform specific functions in Mac OS or an application. Dedicated function keys, which always do the same thing, are listed in Table 3. Function keys labeled through or through on the keyboard can be assigned specific functions by applications.

    Table 3 Dedicated Function Keys



    Displays onscreen help.

    Scrolls to the beginning.

    Scrolls to the end.

    Scrolls up one page.

    Scrolls down one page.

    Moves the insertion point or changes the selection.


    • is called the Command key (not the (not the Apple key).

    • Contextual menus are discussed on the previous page.

To use a keyboard equivalent

  1. Hold down the modifier key(s) in the sequence. This is usually , but can be , , or .

  2. Press the letter, number, or symbol key in the sequence.

For example, to choose the Open com mand, which can be found under the File menu (Figure 15), hold down and press .


  • You can learn keyboard equivalents by observing the key sequences that appear to the right of some menu commands (Figures 8, 9, and 14).

  • Some commands include more than one modifier key. You must hold all modifier keys down while pressing the letter, number, or symbol key for the keyboard equivalent.

  • You can find a list of all Finder keyboard equivalents in Appendix A.

  • Some applications refer to keyboard equivalents as shortcut keys.

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