Home > Comics > Because I can Because I can Thom Holwerda 2008-02-19 Comics 32 Comments Comic: “Because I can”. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 32 Comments 2008-02-19 4:19 pm TLZ_ You can’t navigate Mac’s dialogs with keys? (Or is there something I missed?) 2008-02-19 4:24 pm NxStY You can use tab, enter, space etc. to navigate dialogs of course. But perhaps you can’t use the arrow keys, I don’t know. 2008-02-20 9:30 am MordEth You can use arrow keys, just perhaps not in the way that Thom wants to use arrow keys. I was bored enough to throw a video together showing it, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBqPfsDkGcU Basically, the comic’s claim that you cannot use the arrow keys for navigation in dialog boxes is false, however, (later in these comments) Thom is correct in stating that you cannot use arrow keys to cycle through buttons (which is accomplished with Tab/Shift+Tab). IMO, it’s a lot of quibbling over a triviality, but the assertion in the comic is incorrect. 2008-02-20 9:52 am Thom Holwerda but the assertion in the comic is incorrect. You didn’t look at the comic very well, did you? That’s a nice video, but it does not refer to the comic at all. Look at the Windows box, and see what kind of dialog is on there. Not a print dialog, not a save dialog – but a confirmation dialog. You can only use tab to navigate a confirmation dialog in OSX – and again, even THAT is disabled BY DEFAULT. Comics are not just about the words, people. 2008-02-20 12:46 pm MordEth In my experience, the number of people who use keyboard for navigation (on either platform) is very low. Since 3.11, I used Windows on my personal machines, followed by Linux on my web server, and eventually replaced my Windows 2000 Professional desktop with a Mac. On numerous occasions I have been asked, “how did you do that?” when navigating interfaces with the keyboard instead of a mouse, because it was quicker. I tend to feel that it’s quibbling to complain that Apple does not enable full keyboard access to all controls by default; the users that would take advantage of this feature should be sufficiently advanced in their use of Mac OS X to enable it, much like Windows users who are advanced enough to use Alt+key shortcuts in Windows can enable it to underline the Alt+key shortcut letters in their menus (which is also disabled by default). It’s clearly placed in a logical place in the preferences, and it is (in my opinion) quite clearly explained. Personally, I feel Mac OS X provides a lot more control and room for customization via the Keyboard Shortcuts panel in System Preferences, and agree with a lot of Neebe’s comments on its behavior. Why is it an issue that you can’t arrow-key to Cancel if you can use Tab/Shift-Tab to select it, and better yet use Esc to cancel out of the dialog box? I definitely prefer being able to use one key (Esc) instead of two. Thom: I hope that you don’t interpret this comment as slagging your comics, I’ve been reading them since you started posting them on OS News (and will continue to do so), and have been entertained by them. I just feel that it’s quibbling to complain that something doesn’t work exactly like Windows on Mac OS X, when there is similar functionality (albeit, in my experience, more logically implemented on Mac OS X). 2008-02-20 1:24 pm Thom Holwerda I just feel that it’s quibbling I never said it wasn’t quibbling . What some here seem to assume is that this is somehow a major, blocker issue for me. It’s not – it’s an annoyance, and that’s why this issue gets a comic (and a small entry in my blog) and not a full-fledged article (like the Finder did). The comics are a way for me to vent, and as such, you’ll find more of these small issues popping up in comics. If people here continue to treat the comics as being full-fledged articles, then I most likely will be forced to turn commenting off – which I really don’t want to. 2008-02-21 2:58 am Morgan No offense intended, Thom, but I don’t see how one could recognize the type of dialog from the cartoon. It isn’t so much about your drawing ability, which to be honest, far surpasses mine, but rather one of size. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if you had made the dialog disproportionately larger than you did; there is quite a bit of artistic license that can be (and often is) taken in the cartooning world to get a point across. More detail would have made the difference between getting the joke right away vs. having it qualified in the comments. As to the punchline, I have no real opinion as I’m a keyboard-guy on PCs and a mouse-guy on Macs. I’m not sure why I do that but it’s purely instinctual for me. 2008-02-19 4:30 pm gotten09 right back at ya mac, lol hey also, regarding drawing style, i find it really cool, and for human figures there are a lot of ebooks in torrent sites for drawing cool stuff Edited 2008-02-19 16:30 UTC 2008-02-19 4:33 pm Neebe You’re not missing anything, but Thom is. By default arrow key navigation in OSX dialogs only works between text boxes and lists, but of course there is a setting in keyboard preferences to allow the arrow keys to navigate the whole dialog. So i guess the joke in this comic is actually on Thom. 2008-02-19 4:35 pm Thom Holwerda You are incorrect. You cannot use the arrow keys in dialogs, even when you enable that option you mentioned. That option ONLY enables the use of the TAB KEY, NOT the arrow keys. And it is even disabled by default. Edited 2008-02-19 16:43 UTC 2008-02-19 4:45 pm Neebe With the keyboard preferences set to all controls the arrow keys work exactly the same as they do in windows, you tab between different elements then you can use the arrow keys to move within that element. Your claim that the arrow keys don’t work is wrong. 2008-02-19 4:48 pm Thom Holwerda In Windows, you can use the arrow keys to move from ‘ok’ to ‘cancel’. You can NOT do this in OS X, whether that option is enabled, or not. 2008-02-19 4:55 pm Neebe And that would be because they are different GUI elements, it’s about consistency, since each button is a separate element you use tab to move between them. I Just double checked and it seems that the behavior you describe in Windows only works in some dialogs, mostly warning types, it doesn’t work in most save or print dialogs. I suppose it’s a choice between inconsistency and convenience. it works some places but not all. I would think that you’d be against that kind of behavior Thom, seeing how you are interested in interface design. But your claim was that you couldn’t use arrow keys at all and in that you are wrong. Edited 2008-02-19 17:07 UTC 2008-02-19 5:01 pm Thom Holwerda I’m not sure which dialogs you can do use the arrow key to move from one button to another, i just tried it in several including save and print dialogs and it didn’t work. Exactly – that’s because you can’t. Try moving from ‘ok’ to ‘cancel’ in an OSX dialog and you’ll see that’s impossible. But your claim was that you couldn’t use arrow keys at all and in that you are wrong. Erm, you still haven’t proven me wrong – in fact, you just confirmed my findings. 2008-02-19 6:52 pm Ophidian Erm, you still haven’t proven me wrong – in fact, you just confirmed my findings. BTW Thom, you stated: You cannot use the arrow keys in dialogs, even when you enable that option you mentioned. That option ONLY enables the use of the TAB KEY, NOT the arrow keys I use the arrow keys in dialog boxes all the time while on MacOS. I don’t know what you have done to your machine, but a nearly stock install on the machine I am on has no difficulty with this. 2008-02-19 7:21 pm Neebe So your whole argument about arrow keys not working in OSX dialogs comes down to one specific case of not switch the focused button in “OK Cancel” dialogs, that’s a pretty weak argument, especially when the same thing doesn’t work in most Windows dialogs either. Try arrowing around a save or print dialog in Windows, doesn’t work does it, so does that mean that the arrow keys don’t work in Windows dialogs? 2008-02-19 5:15 pm eggs Actually if you tab so the focus is on one of the buttons you can then use the arrow key to move between them. It acts like the buttons are one element and then the arrow keys move between the elements. 2008-02-19 5:19 pm Thom Holwerda Actually if you tab so the focus is on one of the buttons you can then use the arrow key to move between them. It acts like the buttons are one element and then the arrow keys move between the elements. In most environments it’s like that, yeah… Just not on OSX. Heck, not even the tab key can move the button focus! 2008-02-19 6:48 pm Ophidian Having trouble finding an Ok/Cancel button dialog, but when I did find one, I was perfectly able to move back and forth between the Ok and Cancel buttons using the left and right arrow keys. I did have to tab to one of the buttons first, but that is the same as on at least some Windows dialog boxes as well. So how is this impossible on a Mac again? 2008-02-19 7:01 pm Thom Holwerda So how is this impossible on a Mac again? Either my Mac and the Macs of all the people I talked to before making this comic are broken, or yours is broken. There is no way, in hell, that I can get the left/right keys to switch between ok/cancel/etc. A few examples. Open a new mail in Mail.app, fill in some stuff, and try to close it without saving. Semi-modal dialog pops up, and if you have the option enabled under Keyboard prefs, you can switch button focus using tab – but not with the arrow keys – you’ll get the no-can’t-do sound. Disabling the option obviously allows for no keyboard navigation at all – and by default, this option is disabled on Mac OS X. Open Safari, and find a website with an invalid certificate (one of my favourite websites has an invalid certificate, but it’s a website I know very well so no problem at all). Confirmation dialog comes up, and nor the arrow keys, nor the tab key (the special option enabled or not) can switch button focus in the dialog – heck, you’ll even get the no-can’t-do sound. In that same browser window, press Apple+p to invoke the print dialog. Tab will allow you to switch between elements and buttons (again, only with the special option enabled) but again, the arrow keys do not switch button focus. Again, you get the no-can’t-do sound. Now, go to a website with a form, fill in some stuff, and try to close the Safari window. Safari will warn you with a dialog that you have stuff filled in. Again, the arrow keys do not work (and the sound plays), and the tab key only works with the special option enabled. In short, the arrow keys do not work, and the behaviour is even inconsistent as even with the special tab option set, some dialogs allow for tab navigation, and some don’t. 2008-02-20 11:26 pm aesiamun Thom, The settings for this are hidden but here’s how you get to them: Open System Preferences Open Keyboard and Mouse Click “Keyboard Shortcuts” Click “Open Keyboard Preferences” Click All Controls Have safari open with multiple tabs, command-q and tab between “cancel” and “quit”. yeah arrows don’t work but tab/shift tab does. I tested it with your command-p in safari and I can tab between all UI elements. *EDIT* Nevermind, I just realized you mentioned the special setting. Although with that turned on, I can use tab/shift-tab for every dialog box I can find…just not the arrow keys. *EDIT* Found a quicker way to the setting. I guess if you’re expecting arrows to work and they don’t its annoying, but i never expected them to. I expected tab/shift-tab to work as it does. Edited 2008-02-20 23:32 UTC 2008-02-19 7:43 pm Doc Pain In Windows, you can use the arrow keys to move from ‘ok’ to ‘cancel’. You can NOT do this in OS X, whether that option is enabled, or not. As the comment by Neebe describes, this behaviour is intended. You use tab / shift+tab to navigate through the dialog elements, and then the cursor keys to navigate within these elements. Just imagine if you scroll through a list on n items; if you have selection focus on item n and you press the “down” arrow, what would happen? You would get out of the list and move to the next dialog element, maybe. But how would you use the cursor key to move fro mitem n – 5 to a nearby element, say, a pushbutton or a checkbox? More strange behaviour could be assumed for a text input line or text field. Here, the arrow keys have the same function they have in “ordinary” editing dialogs. What happens when you are at the first char on the first line and press the “left” arrow? Would you go to the previous element of the dialog itself? And the “home” and “end” keys, where would they lead you to? As it has been described too, the habit of moving between pushbuttons using the arrow keys is not omnipresent in all dialog windows in “Windows”. I have seem some where it works, and some where it doesn’t work. And this behaviour does not include other elements than pushbuttons as I tried to illustrate above. To directly access elements of a dialog window, you can press a modifier along with the respective highlighted or underlined character corresponding to the dialog element, e. g. Alt+F for the file name input line. And according the move from OK to Cancel: Why not press Enter or Escape? (NB: Preselection item, I know.) I will investige on this further as soon as I have revived my “new” iBook G4 (actually sitting disassembled in a box, baka in a box.) But hey, tell me who uses the keyboard anyway to navigate dialog windows, that’s what the mouse is for, on “Windows” and on Mac OS X. 🙂 2008-02-19 4:56 pm NxStY So OSX uses different keybindings. What’s fun about that? I would’ve understood it if OSX didn’t have any method to navigate diaglogs with the keyboard, but it does and it’s simply other keys. 2008-02-19 6:37 pm umccullough Ok… so I was at least slightly amused by the comic – and then reading the comments I realized – I just got annoyed. Maybe supporting comments on comics is simply a bad idea. 2008-02-19 8:24 pm sbergman27 Maybe we need Stone Soup more than we need a Focus Shift? I’d like to see this advance beyond Thom presenting work which then gets criticized as a matter of course. I would prefer to see a collaborative effort evolve from this beginning. Where community members contribute a basic idea. Someone says “I’d like to do the artwork on this one”. Someone else contributes actual dialog. They get some feedback. Polish it up some more. And present it. Members of OSNews could have fun making it. And members of other sites could have fun reading it, if other sites come to feel that it is worth linking to. Penny Arcade, OSNews style. Just a thought. Obviously, it would require that people be interested in more than just nitpicking about what someone else does. 2008-02-20 6:13 pm TaterSalad I agree. I was starting to think I was the only one who saw this for what it was, a comic! 2008-02-19 10:31 pm Buck Because you have so many DAMN DIALOGS! That’s why! Duh. 2008-02-19 11:18 pm gotten09 First of all, It’s a comic people, chill out 2nd, most of the defenders are Mac Fanboys and third, if it works or not, meh, it was funny becuase it’s a reference to the “hi, im a mac”etc thing apple has on its website, as i see it…lol so, once again, HA! right back at ya mac!, lol its only a joke peopleee!! 2008-02-19 11:46 pm Thom Holwerda Your post may not be the most eloquent in this thread, but you’re one of the few who actually gets the concept of these comics. Thank you. 2008-02-20 3:13 am gotten09 thanks to you and your great work man, keep it up! also, my native language is not english if that justifies a little my lack of “eloquency” hehehe anyways, thanks and we’ll be lookin’ forward to the next comic! 2008-02-19 11:41 pm RawMustard nuff said! 2008-02-20 6:27 pm NathanHill I’ve tried to find these comics funny, and no doubt, Thom, you are trying. But making a joke about using arrow keys on a dialog is just… well, sort of sad. How about this? Next week, stop the strange technological references to stuff people don’t know about, and start pointing out the funny things that happen when you run a website dedicated to operating systems. Surely you’ve gotten flames for posting certain articles on the site – surely, you’ve gotten complaints about obscure things. I think that would be a whole lot more interesting and funny than trying to burn Macs because you can’t navigate dialog boxes with arrow keys.