Use Tab key in Snow Leopard keyboard shortcuts

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Among the many improvements in Snow Leopard is the ability to use the Tab key in user-created keyboard shortcuts. In OS X 10.5, pressing the Tab key while creating keyboard shortcuts (in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences panel) didn’t work; the system would just beep and not accept the Tab key.

Snow Leopard changes all that; you can now use the Tab key in any combination with the Shift, Control, Command, and Option keys. For example, you could change the Exposé All Windows activation keystroke to Option-Tab, which might make sense if you’re used to using Command-Tab to switch applications and want to have a similarly-assigned shortcut for Exposé.

Just open the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard System Preferences panel, select the Exposé & Spaces entry in the left-hand column, then click on the All Windows entry below Exposé in the right-hand column. Double-click on the right-hand side of that entry (it will probably say F9 by default), then just press Option-Tab, and you’re done.

This is but one contrived example, of course. The bigger picture is that you can now use the Tab key in your user-defined shortcuts, which opens up a number of additional keyboard combinations. If you’re creating something that’s system-wide, though, keep in mind that other applications may already be using the Tab key in their own shortcuts. In Safari, for instance, Control-Tab (and Shift-Control-Tab) are already used to switch between tabs.

Thanks to Mac OS X Hints contributor maikk for today’s tip.

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