Orange key caps, Keyboard Viewer limitations, and Chasing it away

Time for a mid-week grab-bag of Mac 911 updates—comments and suggestions from readers about past Mac 911 issues.

Paint it orange

Reader Don Smith wonders about the orange key caps that appear in a screenshot from a recent column.

Thank you for the Keyboard Viewer tip. May I suggest you didn’t talk about the elephant in the room? The orange keys on your Keyboard Viewer illustration? Surely, turning some of the keys orange means Keyboard Viewer is trying to tell us something. But what?

My bad, I could have chosen a more representative shot or explained why those keys are orange. Allow me to do so now.

Those orange keys indicate a special two-key combination—one where you press the Option key, one of these characters (tilde, e, u, i, or n), and then follow it up by pressing the letter key that the special orange key symbol should be applied to. For example, if I want to create the é character, I press Option-E and then E to apply the accent to the e.

Viewing Keyboard Viewer

A couple of readers have had some difficulty making Keyboard Viewer appear on their Macs. Reader Dan Hessler wrote in to say:

A very nice AppleScript has been written by Chris Buerli that handles the steps you outlined with a single click. It can be downloaded here.

KeyViewer is free and requires that you’re running Mac OS X 10.4 or higher.

Keyboard Viewer alternative

Paul Norton puts voice to a common frustration with Keyboard Viewer:

If I select the Keyboard Viewer and select the “Symbol” font, I don’t see the right characters, only the standard alphabet.

Yep, Keyboard Viewer does a good job with “real” character fonts, but when you move into symbols and dingbats, you’ve got a problem. Apple’s Character Palette can help in this regard because it will show you all those oddball characters and allow you to insert them into your text, but it’s not the most intuitive utility Apple’s created. (You switch this on just as you do Keyboard Viewer. Go to System Preferences > International > Input Menu and enable the Character Palette option. It will appear in the Input menu in the menu bar if you’ve enabled it.)

For quickly finding and applying these arcane characters I use Egonis’ $30 PopChar X. Install it and it’s activated by clicking in the upper-left corner of the Mac’s menubar. Select the font you want from a pop-up menu and choose the character you like.

Chasing away spam

The dirtbags who are responsible for the recent Chase bank phishing scheme—the one that suggests your bank account has been compromised and that everything would be so much better if only you sent personal information to a band of crooks—have risen to the top of my list of spammers who I hope to see tossed into a dank dungeon. I’ve got good spam filters in place, but these messages are so prevalent that a few of them have slipped through.

When this kind of thing goes on for more than a week (and I think we’re in week three of this one), it’s time to take sterner measures. I’ve done so by creating a rule that looks for and automatically diverts into a Spam folder messages that include the word Chase in the From field. Unless you routinely receive legitimate messages from this financial institution (or are a member in good standing of the American Steeplechase League), you might do so as well.

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