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So, I just got my first Mac. It is slick, and I feel like I don't know how to do anything, but overall it is a great machine. However, I am becoming frustrated with the tab order in most web pages.

For example, this site. If I am composing a comment and press tab, focus is set to the address bar. I would like the focus to shift to the button next to the text area, but no luck. Also, I cannot seem to tab into combo boxes in form pages. What is going on here exactly? This happens in FireFox as well as Safari. I don't get why the tab order of a page would not be respected. Any help is appreciated.

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Accepted far too soon! Only 8 views, 1 answer, accepted right after it was posted. Given that accepted answer, some of us might not even read the question, or the given answers anymore, so others might not validate if the answer is true. Hence, how would you know if it is indeed the best answer...? (No need to change the accepted answer; just my thoughts of how accepting answers works.) – Arjan Oct 30 '09 at 8:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Mac OS by default does not make buttons focusable with Tab-- only text boxes and lists. You can change this setting in the System Preferences.

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Yeesh, I had a feeling, but I found it hard to believe that this would actually be an OS level setting. WTF... thank you :) – Ed S. Oct 30 '09 at 7:42

Many will say that enabling the preference "Full keyboard access: all controls" helps, but for me, that makes navigating a nightmare. For a quick test: enable it and then try to use Tab in Mail or in Firefox. I'd not change that preference.

For browsing simply use Safari. In Safari, use Option-Tab rather than just Tab to step through all links. Then press Return to activate the highlighted link.

(And for dialogs, pressing Command-first letter often works, and Return will give you the default option, while Command-dot or Esc will Cancel. But indeed, many times I need to pick up the mouse to make a choice.)

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Thanks, but I prefer the Windows approach on this one. Also, I prefer FireFox to Safari. – Ed S. Oct 30 '09 at 8:22
Firefox, not FireFox... ;-) (By the way, that preferences does not give you the Windows approach. In Windows, the GUI developers set which elements are selectable, and many are skipped. On a Mac, developers tend to make far fewer things Tab-able, but then with that preference enabled, virtually every element will be selectable instead.) – Arjan Oct 30 '09 at 8:44
Yes, I am a Windows developer and I set tab order all... the... time. It is extra work, but there are situations where the OS is going to get it wrong. Don't like the approach, but meh, it is working for me now. – Ed S. Oct 30 '09 at 22:45

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