Access Print & Fax preferences directly from some apps

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Here’s an odd, potentially useful, undocumented printing shortcut in OS X 10.5. You probably already know that Command-P is the generic shortcut to display the Print dialog box. But did you know that, in some applications at least, you can press Command-P again, while the Print dialog is onscreen? What happens next—and whether this is a useful tip or not—depends on which program you happen to be using.

First, this tip only seems to work with Apple’s bundled applications, at least to the best of my testing abilities. I tested about 20 third-party apps, and couldn’t make anything happen in any of them with a second press of Command-P. (If you find one that does do something, please post a comment about it.) Similarly, none of iPhoto, iWeb, and the iWork ‘08 apps seemed to do anything useful with the second Command-P.

With Apple’s bundled OS X applications, however, what happens next ranges from nothing to quite useful:

  • Calculator, Dictionary, iCal, iTunes, and Stickies: Nothing at all happens if you press Command-P again.
  • Automator, Font Book, iChat, Mail, Safari, Script Editor, TextEdit: This is where the most useful behavior is found. The second press of Command-P will open the Print & Fax System Preferences panel, providing a useful last-minute shortcut if you realize you need to access that panel before printing (perhaps your default printer isn’t showing up, and you need to find out why).
  • Preview: Alone amongst the apps I tested, Preview will actually print the current document when you press Command-P the second time. So unless you really want it to print, don’t use this trick in Preview!

I didn’t test every built-in app, obviously—just those from which you’d be most likely to print. Based on the various behaviors, I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature—but the way it works in Mail, Safari, etc. is quite useful as a shortcut to the Print & Fax System Preferences panel.

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