Command and Control

Two follow-ups from Monday’s Die Hard.


The most commonly-reported broken habit was the problem Windows switchers face getting used to the fact that the Mac uses the Command key for menu shortcuts, whereas Windows uses Control. So, e.g., switchers from Windows habitually strike Ctrl-V instead of Cmd-V when they want to paste something.

A bunch of people wrote to point out that the free and open source uControl can be configured to swap the Control and Command keys. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that, since I not only use uControl, but just recommended it a few weeks ago to my comrade Dean Allen, for the purposes of disabling the Caps Lock key on his iBook.

(uControl is not to be confused with the recently-announced homophonic You Control.)

Whether you really want to do something as radical as swapping your Command and Control keys, I don’t know. I mean, if you plan on using a Mac for the long haul, you’d certainly be better served getting accustomed to the standard key arrangement. But, especially for switchers from Windows who still use Windows in addition to Mac OS X, I can see how this might be a devilishly difficult habit to break.

It’s also the case that uControl is a kernel extension, which means it does its business at a very low level. The current version of uControl is designed for Mac OS X 10.3.2 (and works just fine here on my machine), but it’s one of those things that you might need to disable after some future update to Mac OS X.


A bunch of people, myself included, griped about the fact that you can’t drag-and-drop app icons from the Dock as though they were aliases to the apps themselves. The only thing you can do with them is poof them off the Dock.

But it ends up you can drag-and-drop app icons from the Dock if you hold down the Command key while dragging. You even get a solid (instead of translucent) icon during the drag. And so this works perfectly for dragging app icons from the Dock onto your favorite AppleScript editor’s icon to open its scripting dictionary. (Or try dragging an app onto BBEdit, if you want to peak inside the “.app” package using a BBEdit disk browser.)

This is a great tip. I don’t think it’s right that you need to hold down Command to get useful drag-and-drop behavior, but I’m happy as a clam that it’s possible at all.

Quarter Life

It’s worth noting that if you were subscribed to Sven-S. Porst’s Quarter Life Crisis weblog, you could have learned both these tips a few days ago.

Sven also suggests using CWM (Classic Window Management), a free haxie by Robb Timlin, to fix the habit of clicking anywhere on the desktop to bring all open Finder windows forward. But that’s not what I want, nor what most of the readers who reported this habit want. CWM brings back classic Mac OS window layering for all windows in an app (as do similar hacks like ASM and X-Assist). I don’t want classic window layering for all Finder windows, I just want it for when I click on the desktop.

Posted at 1p ET
Copyright © 2004 John Gruber.