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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Universal Access

March 4, 2004

I used to get these phone calls from clients that went kind of like this: "I can't use my keyboard; when I press any key, all it does it beep." You may recognize this symptom as the "Sticky Keys" that Apple made available in their OSes from 6 and above. The user never visited the Control Panel for this ("Easy Access" is what it used to be called, I think), and would be incensed at the fact that it was on.

Somehow the user had hit the shift key five times in a row (I've done it myself when absentmindedly thinking), which activated this feature. What was Apple thinking when they made five successful key-presses of the shift activate this feature? After all, it is designed to be used by people who CAN'T successfully press keys easily. Sheesh.

Anyway, the other day I get an email from a friend who has been vexed by the fact that his numeric keypad simply won't work on his new PowerMac G5. I immediately thought about "Mouse Keys," another Apple Universal Access gem for using your keypad to move your mouse. I suggested he look through his Universal Access settings and turn everything off.

He wrote back some time later that this didn't work, and wanted to "hire" me to come fix the problem. But I wasn't giving up; we finally spoke by phone and after I named the particular feature, he took a trip to the Mouse section of the Universal Access Preference Panel and BINGO, there it was: Mouse Keys. He never looked at the Mouse section because he was having keyboard problems.