Use fine-grain volume control in 10.5

One of the things that bugs me about OS X is that the volume adjustments made via the keyboard-based volume keys move in steps that are too large. Invariably, I’ll move the volume down a notch, and it’ll get too quiet. In the past, the only solution to this was to then twist the manual volume control on my external spaekers, which sort of defeats the purpose of using the keyboard-based keys. And if I’m using my laptop, I’d have to open the volume slider for finer-grained control over the volume.

As of OS X 10.5, however, this problem has been resolved—as long as you’re using an Apple keyboard, or one that doesn’t use its own drivers to make its volume keys work. At first glance, it seems the volume keys work as they always have—one press equals one full “box” of volume change. However, if you press and hold Shift and Option, and then press the volume keys, you’ll find that it now takes four key presses to move through one “box” of volume change—and the onscreen graphic even reflects this, showing each box filling up in four discreet steps.

Note that if you’re using a portable Mac, and you’ve got it set up (in the Keyboard section of the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences panel) so that you need to press Fn to activate the function keys’ special features, you’ll need to add that key to the mix as well—so it’s Fn-Shift-Option and then Volume Up or Volume Down.

Between the full-step and quarter-step increments, it’s now possible to precisely set your Mac’s volume level using just the keyboard-based volume keys.

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