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A general work day for me consists of 50% mac, 50% windows virtual box usage on the mac. When I use the mac side of things, I love how the F keys interact, when I am on windows, I rely heavily on the F keys which forces me to have to use the FN key. Is their any option or way to force my virtual box instance of windows into accepting the f keys by default?

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This question (apple.stackexchange.com/questions/13455/…) can help. – user3463 May 6 '11 at 2:36
up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is no easy(ish) way to make something receive the function keys on a Mac. Probably involving patching the system itself, which would be a bad idea.


Your F keys have two modes:

  • Regular F-key behavior (this is what you want in Windows)
  • Special function keys (brightness, volume, etc.; this is what you want on your Mac?)

You switch between then by pressing or releasing Fn. But you can toggle which one's are received when not pressing Fn:

enter image description here


You can create a simple AppleScript or Automator workflow that let's you toggle the Fn key setting, I described that in this answer.


If you want to use regular F-keys on both Windows and Mac and want to disable Expose, Spaces, Dashboard for a while, write a script that uses /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy or defaults to modify your ~/Libary/Preferences/com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist file as described on this other web site by the user fracai:

# All Windows - F9
32 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 101, 0 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Application Windows - F10
33 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 109, 0 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# All Windows (Slow) - F9
34 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 101, 131072 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Application Windows (Slow) - F10
35 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 109, 131072 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Desktop - F11
36 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 103, 0 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Desktop (Slow) - F11
37 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 103, 131072 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Dashboard - F12
62 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 111, 0 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Dashboard (Slow) - F12
63 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 111, 131072 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Activate Spaces - F8
75 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 100, 0 ); type = standard; }; }; 

# Activate Spaces (Slow) - Shift, F8
76 = { enabled = 1; value = { parameters = ( 65535, 100, 131072 ); type = standard; }; };
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