9 Replies Latest reply: Dec 7, 2005 9:33 AM by niteowl
niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
I went into Keyboard & Mouse Preferences and added four Applications to the Application Keyboard Shortcuts List and set them to the F1 thru F4 keys, but they don't work. Any ideas why not? Are the F-Keys in and by themselves NOT considered Shortcuts?

I used the Description syntax "Open xxxx" as well as "Open the Application xxxx" (without the " ").

Are there any "free" ways to assign the F-Keys to open Applications?

PowerBook G4 Ti 15" (400-MHz), Mac OS X (10.4.3), 1GB RAM, 80MB HD, AE
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,750 points)
    Any ideas why not?

    Yep. From the Help Viewer topic "Creating keyboard shortcuts for applications"

    "Note: You can create keyboard shortcuts only for existing menu commands. You cannot define keyboard shortcuts for general purpose tasks such as opening an application or switching between applications."

    For your shortcut method to work, there would have to be an existing menu command in Finder to open the particular application, & you would have to enter that command exactly as on that menu in the Menu Title text box. (It isn't a description text box, it is the exact text that the OS matches to the text of the menu command to know which one to execute.)
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,750 points)
    Are there any "free" ways to assign the F-Keys to open Applications?

    None I'm aware of. There are a number of utilities designed to do complex actions that are activated by 'triggers,' one of which can be a keystroke like an F-Key, but since they are designed to be powerful macro utilities, they aren't free.

    If such things sound interesting, you can check out:

    • Keyboard Maestro ($20) at http://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/

    • iKey ($30) at http://scriptsoftware.com/ikey/

    • QuicKeys ($80) at http://www.cesoft.com/products/qkx.html

    Each of these will allow you to assign an F-Key (or any other available hot key combination) to open an app, plus do much more.
  • niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    Yes, I see what you're saying, BUT is a function key (F-Key) command actually a "Keyboard Shortcut" or is ti something different?

    If an F-key command is the same as a "Keyboard Shortcut" then you've probably hit the nail on the head, but if it's different then the question is still open.

    Would there be any way to use/map/copy the Speakable Items files (which are either scripts or Ziplight.mdimporter Documents) for F-key commands use? Automator maybe?

    How does one write a Speakable Items file?

    Thanks for your input.

    PowerBook G4 Ti 15" (400-MHz)   Mac OS X (10.4.3)   1GB RAM, 80MB HD, AE
  • niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    Thanks, RC-R
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,750 points)
    I'm not sure what you mean by "something different." Many keyboard shortcuts, both those built into the system & into some applications, are invoked by F-Keys, alone or in combination with modifier keys. To that extent at least, they are keyboard shortcuts.

    In any event, the "Keyboard Shortcut" pref option is not designed to map any keyboard shortcut to anything other than existing menu commands, with or without F-Keys. The previously mentioned macro apps do not have this limitation & would allow you to map these keys to launchng apps, including ones saved as AppleScript applications. Basically, that is what Speakable Items files that you write are.

    Information for creating & using them can be found in the AppleScript section of Help Viewer & its links. (Try the topic titled "Running scripts from a spoken command" to get an idea of what's involved.)

    However, I know of no other way of mapping these or any other executable files to F-Keys.
  • niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    Well I found a freeware application that maps actions to the Function Keys and more at: http://www.zarkonnen.com/projects/xkeys.php

    If anyone finds a way to do this natively in OS X please let me know.

    Thanks for the help so far.
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,750 points)
    Please post your experiences with this app if you try it. From the documentation online, it appears to be very old & I have doubts about its compatibility with Tiger.
  • niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    So far Xkeys 1.1.1 works as advertised. I've had no freezes, no crashes, no noticeable slowdowns or any problems of any kind.

    At this point I'm using it to open my bookkeeping program, Eudora, Safari, Firefox, TextEdit and Palm Desktop (F1-> F6). F-Keys F9 ->F11 are already mapped by the system for Expose' and F12 for Dashboard so that leaves me with F7->F8 to select.

    Since I've flipped my 'fn' key control, in SYS PREFS, (I use the 'fn' key + F-Key to control brightness, sound, num-lock, mute and CD/DVD Eject) I haven't yet looked to see if Xkeys will let me use 'fn'-F7->'fn'-F8. But if I can't, no big deal. It is free after all.

    Apple should give use complete control of keyboard mapping and let us face the consequences if we screw up. Actually we'd only need a "Return to Default" button to keep us safe.
  • niteowl Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    And now for another free keyboard mapper: Global Hotkey.


    I haven't tried this or even studied the documentation yet, but it seems pretty powerful. For now I think I'll stay with Xkeys.... Simple yet funtional and effecive.

    It's so nice to have a less crowded Dock.