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I have a new iMac with Boot Camp and XP SP3. I used to use Mac OS (1986-2002) but switched to Windows XP because I was working in web development and I regularly needed to verify the sites I was working on.

I have gotten used to Windows shortcuts, and find that I can navigate very quickly using just my keyboard. For example, if I want to modify the track number of a song in iTunes, I can just select the song, type ctrl-i, alt-t and the number.

This is one example of many hundreds. In Windows, virtually all menu items or dialog boxes are accessible this way. Another example is changing my Documents window view from list to thumbnail view: I hold down alt and type v-d for detail view or v-h for thumbnail view.

The shortcuts are all underlined when I hold down the alt key, which means that I don't have to memorize long lists of shortcuts or go looking elsewhere when it's time to use them. Integrating them into my habits is easy because of this.

I bought this iMac (and another one before it) because I genuinely believe that it is a great computer, much better built overall than any PC. However, each time I start using Mac OS, I go nuts because I just cannot figure out how to do things quickly without the alt shortcuts. I either spend all my time looking at long lists of shortcuts trying to memorize them or using the mouse. So, I end up using XP with Boot Camp (it's been three years now!).

There are many cases (the iTunes track number above), where I cannot find any shortcut at all. If I need to give track numbers to an album of 20 songs, I can do it in 60 keystrokes without using my mouse in XP. On Mac, I can't see how this would be possible.

I have looked at QuickSilver, but have not found any way to select individual fields in a multi-field dialog box (again, the iTunes example). And, it requires lots of memorization to keep track of all the shortcuts.

I have activated the keyboard setting to tab through all fields, but this is not a usable solution when I have to tab through 6-8 fields to get to the one I want in a repetitive task.

Can anyone suggest an effective way to navigate in Leopard or Snow Leopard using only the keyboard (hopefully without having to tab through all the fields in iTunes to change fields)? Is there some aspect of QuickSilver that I'm missing that would enable me to do this?

I love my iMac, and this single issue is keeping me from using Snow Leopard full time.

share|improve this question
+1 for the very nicely written question. It's a problem I face as well, but I've yet to find a solution. I have not invested any time in actually trying to learn the QuickSilver way of doing things. – alex Nov 12 '09 at 13:15
There is a really good tip at for how to get instant access to all menu items using QuickSilver. It won't help with iTunes info panels, though. – Andrew Swift Nov 12 '09 at 14:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Almost all buttons have default keys associated to them in Mac applications. Usually it is the first letter + Cmd + optional other modifier keys. Next is Cmd-Shift-n

  1. Select the first track
  2. Get Info (Cmd i)
  3. tab to the track number field
  4. enter number
  5. Cmd-Shift-n for next
  6. repeat 4-6 until done
share|improve this answer
It's the third step that gets to me -- if I want to change the genre, that's 12 tabs in Leopard, and alt-g in Windows. But I didn't know about the cmd-shift-N for next, thanks. – Andrew Swift Nov 12 '09 at 15:37
True, but relatively painless as you only need to do this once. The cursor stays in the same place when you cmd-shift-N for next – Xetius Nov 13 '09 at 10:06
For the sake of saving one more keystroke, on my machine cmd-n is enough to switch to the next song, no shifting required. – blahdiblah Nov 19 '09 at 0:10

As mentioned above there are several ways to do things. Do you have to repetitively change track numbers or is that just an example?

Using Quicksilver (great program) and a knowledge of keyboard shortcuts I can navigate without the mouse very well. It just takes some time, and if you're used to windows shortcuts it can be tricky.

share|improve this answer
Adding track numbers, disk numbers, etc. is something I have to do all the time, and it has proven to be particuliarly difficult for me Leopard. I can move between all the fields in the info panel in random order by single keystrokes on a PC, but as far as I know, tabbing is the only way to move between fields on Leopard. I'm starting to get a feel for what's possible, and I think that QuickSilver will be enough to be able to use all the menu items. It's the song info in iTunes that really has me stumped. – Andrew Swift Nov 12 '09 at 16:48
Yeah, Apple + I will get you the info, along with info in Finder. – Josh K Nov 12 '09 at 18:07

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