Struggling with interface issues

Wonderful as our gadgets and their interfaces are, there are times when they’re not entirely fathomable—particularly when you’ve clicked in the wrong place or pressed a key one time too many. Today I look at three issues caused by interface confusion.

Disappearing tools

I’m running Snow Leopard on my iMac and something’s gone wrong with my copy of Mail. When I select a message and click Reply, the reply window appears but doesn’t have a Send button. Instead I have to choose Send from the Message menu. Where did that button go?

It’s time you became familiar with the button in the top-right corner of many windows you find on the Mac—the one that’s supposed to look like it’s transparent. That’s the toolbar button. When you click it, hidden toolbars are exposed or exposed toolbars are hidden. My very best guess is that button was clicked at one time or another and the toolbar in the Reply window hidden as a result. Click the button and the Reply button along with other buttons in the toolbar will appear.

Note, the Lion version of Mail doesn’t have this button so should you move to Lion (or, presumably, Mountain Lion) this can’t happen again.

Delete Someone

Somehow my Draw Something player name has become known to a number of people I have no interest in playing with. Is there anything I can do about their requests?

Yes. Launch Draw Something, locate the name of a player you want nothing to do with, and swipe to the right. A Delete button appears. Tap on that button and the player is gone.

Dead number pad

I still use a keyboard that has a number pad and I use that number pad with the Calculator widget. Last week it stopped working—or at least some of it. The number keys don’t work but the plus, minus, multiplication, and division keys do. What’s going on?

You’ve managed to engage the Mouse Keys feature—a feature that’s part of Universal Access that allows you to move the cursor with the keyboard’s number pad. It’s not difficult to accidentally engage. Just press the Option key five times in a row and it’s on (and your number pad no longer works as you expect).

To fix the problem launch System Preferences, select Universal Access, click on the Mouse & Trackpad preference, and disable Mouse Keys.

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