Wish you could navigate around these boxes from your keyboard? Now you can!Last time, I showed you how to access the Mac menu bar from just your keyboard. But let’s say you’re installing a program from a .pkg and you have to navigate dialog boxes à la Windows. For students trying to reach a Zen keyboard state, what are they to do but reach for their mice?

After today, you can keep your fingers squarely planted on the home row because I’m going to show you how to control Mac dialog windows right from your keyboard.

First, you’re going to head to System Preferences, then Keyboard, and then Keyboard Shortcuts. Down near the bottom of the box, you’ll find some text about “Full Keyboard Access” – this is the trick to letting you control those dialog boxes straight from your keyboard. Click the button that says “All controls” and you’re setup and ready to go.

Once a dialog box pops up, use tab to navigate forward through the various buttons and shift-tab to navigate backwards. The button you’re currently on will be highlighted with a blue border around it. To choose the option, hit the space bar. For those blue buttons, you can skip this altogether and just hit the enter key to move forward. In certain dialog boxes like System Preferences, you’ll be able to navigate around the items with the arrow keys after you’ve tabbed over to the right buttons. Play around with it and it should become pretty obvious based on the GUI when you can access this functionality.Soon enough, you’ll learn to love that blue halo.

From now on, you can choose pretty much any Mac menu option with just the tab button and the space bar. This has helped me to navigate around my Mac significantly faster and should speed up your productivity regardless of what you’re doing.

Have you encountered any problems with this OS Tip? Let us know in the comments!