Monday, January 20, 2003

OS X Keyboard Consistency

John Lam:

OS X applications lack consistency in the way they handle the keyboard. It seems like every application has a different set of keystrokes for extremely common operations. By common operations, I mean things that devs do every day: next word, previous word, beginning of line, end of line, top of document, bottom of document.

There’s been some discussion of this on the Carbon-Dev list, recently. In my opinion, all applications should support the BBEdit bindings for navigating and selecting text, and also Emacs bindings like Control-A and Control-E that are easy to type with one hand.

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I only recently learned, by accident, that I could jump to the beginning or end of the line in the address bar (and textareas like this one) in Safari using Ctrl-a and Ctrl-e. Very convenient, since I have caps lock reassigned to Ctrl. I use the (badly located imo) command key much less now. BTW, I didn't realize those were "Emacs bindings" -- I thought they were simply Unix readline commands. (I'm a permanent noob with this stuff; both Emacs and Vim will always be mysteries to me)
It's a pity though that other shortcuts that work in, like Ctrl-u and Ctrl-w, aren't supported like this in other apps.

You're right that they're implemented by readline. I think they originated with the Emacs editor, though. Vi and some other Unix editors use different keys.

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