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On Windows, I could use tab to shift focus from button to button, so I could "click" on the desired button without having to use a mouse.

It appears that I can't do the same thing on a Mac, or is there a way to do it that I didn't realize?

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There is. From System Preferences, under Keyboard » Keyboard Shortcuts, you can enable Full Keyboard navigation. You can also change this by pressing Control+F7.

enter image description here

This allows you to tab between UI elements and select them with the Space key.

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under Lion this is set by radio button "All controls" (ctrl + F7) or (fn + ctrl + F7) –  udo Dec 29 '11 at 17:06
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@udo Thanks, yeah … it's the same shortcut for prior versions of OS X too. –  slhck Dec 29 '11 at 17:10
    
any idea why this is not the default setting? –  user107729 Aug 16 '13 at 18:47
    
@user107729 I have no idea. Usually Apple makes almost everything available as a keyboard shortcut—this is also important for accessibility. Why this isn't the case here, I do not know. –  slhck Aug 16 '13 at 19:06
    
Ohh, this is awesome, thank you!!!! It has brought me a lot of frustration! –  chipiik Feb 12 at 20:28

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