Let's talk about keyboard shortcuts and menu navigation

I have always been perturbed by the vast shortcomings of "keyboard equivalence" on the Mac version of Microsoft Excel compared with the Windows version.  It is not an ALT-vs-COMMAND issue, it is a sheer issue of coverage.  I came across another user's frustrating description and just had to plagiarize it here (my apologies to him):

"An ongoing shortfall on the Mac (for me) has always been the lack of Alt-key control of the menus in Office--in Word, PowerPoint and especially Excel.  Since I can't take "no" for an answer I thought I'd try this forum, although Apple.com doesn't seem to have a place for non-Apple apps for the Mac.

 

I am looking for Alt-key navigation for the Mac versions of Windows Office (at least as available through Windows Office 2003 versions).  If you've never used Excel on a Windows machine, you will likely misunderstand this request (based on my review of Google search results).  In Windows Excel 2003, you can access any menu command through the keyboard in a very efficient way. 

 

A lot of Mac people respond to Alt-key questions with the standard shortcuts (Command "O" is open) or thinking the problem is that there is user confusion because there is no Alt key ("it's the Option or Command key").  All this is known and used often.  I'm also not interested in the Accessibility feature (Ctrl-F2) which is very slow compared to direct access since you're essentially replicating a mouse action, rather than an actual keyboard shortcut.  This question is application specific (Office); I know about OS system shortcuts (and use those often as well).

 

What I am interested in is leveraging keyboard commands, since although not GUI and oh-so-not-nouveau- cool, are the old fashioned way expert users get work done really fast.  When you need to pound in data, keeping your hands on the keyboard is always faster than typing, the mouse/eye, then hands back to typing, then mouse/eye.

 

What I am looking for is some trickery, macro, add-in, something that replicates being able to hold down the "Alt" (option or command or control on the Mac) key and type TOG (for example), which will instantly execute toggling grid on or off (Tools/Option/Grid).  WAO (window/arrange/horizontal), and so on through tens  or hundreds of very frequently used menu combinations.  In addition to just being faster, this approach is faster if you get "mouse fatigue" (eye strain or wrist/hand strain or both), especially on multiple and large displays at high resolution.  With Windows Alt key navigation, you can navigate by touch typing even if you're using an infrequently used menu combination by holding down the Alt key and reading the menu, seeing the shortcut (underlined letter), typing it, and moving on to the next submenu (or the next work task).

 

Granted, Microsoft's new Ribbon interface (started on Office 2007 on Windows) seems to indicate the world thinks more GUI is needed, but I've yet to find an expert user who doesn't hate it.  Fortunately in "Ribbon" versions of Office, you can still type most Alt key shortcuts from memory.  They're not documented anymore since there are no "menus" with the Ribbon.  Sort of the world's largest collection of Easter Eggs.

 

I'm bilingual Windows/Mac.  I''ve always had Macs at home, and mostly Windows at work (except for two companies... one of which was Apple!).  I'm resurrecting this issue because I'm really kind of aggravated that when I have serious Excel work to do for my personal life, I do it on my work computer because the mouse/menu approach is so much slower.

 

So, isn't there some Add-in that can simulate the keyboard shortcuts at least partial Windows users know and love (and are really better... it's ok guys, sometimes one can learn from the dark side).


[New question split by moderator from this answered question]


Answer
Answer
"I do have a bit of a follow-on challenge, if you have any ideas.  Several of the people in my division that were heavy Excel users on WIndows and have moved to the Mac to be part of my organization are missing another form of keyboard equivalence -- navigation in popup boxes, particularly Paste Special.  On Windows, apparently they often used keyboard equivalence to *get* to the Paste Special dialog, and then ALSO to *choose* which mode to Paste.  I have not found a way to navigate in this dialog box via the keyboard.  Any ideas?"

In general, you can navigate in dialog windows by using the Tab key as well as a few others. The "trick" is that you have to tell OS X you want to be able to do so. First go to > System Preferences> Keyboard - Keyboard Shortcuts. Select the Full Keyboard Access option for All Controls. [Note that Ctrl+F7 can be used to toggle this setting at any time.] A new array of functionality becomes available. For example...

Format> Cells:
Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PgUp/Dn or Cmd+PgUp/Dn to jump from page to page
Use Tab to navigate within the dialog page
Use Up/Down Arrows to increment values & Dropdown lists
For some reason, Color features aren't included, though.

Paste Special: You can use Ctrl+Cmd+V to access the Paste Special dialog (that keystroke is documented in the Edit menu). Having changed the System Prefs as suggested above you can now use the Tab key to move from one selection to the next -- use Shift+Tab to reverse direction. Press the Space Bar to select the option, then press return to execute the operation.

Also note that several of the more commonly use Paste Special options are available from the Paste Options Button that appears after pasting [If the preference is checked in Excel> Preferences> Edit].

There are also some other not-so-well-documented shortcuts you can take advantage of while in the Paste Special dialog;

Paste
Cmd+A = All
Cmd+F = Formulas
Cmd+V = Values
Cmd+T = Formats
Cmd+C = Comments
Cmd+N = Validation
Cmd+X = All except borders

Operation [executes when Space Bar is pressed]
Cmd+O = None
Cmd+D = Add
Cmd+S = Subtract
Cmd+M = Multiply
Cmd+I = Divide
Cmd+B = Skip Blanks
Cmd+E = Transpose

Cmd+L = Paste Link
Cmd+. = Cancel

Additionally, keyboard shortcuts can be assigned directly to the Paste Values & the Formatting commands.
AI: Artificial Intelligence or Automated Idiocy???
Please mark Yes/No as to whether a Reply answers your question.

Regards,
Bob J.

10 people found this reply helpful

·

Was this reply helpful?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for your feedback.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback.

Answer
Answer
A little more "history" :-) It isn't an "Office" or "Microsoft" issue either...

Windows OS evolved from DOS which had no graphic UI or pointing device. In order to expedite execution of commands the OS [ergo, all apps] was reliant on keyboard operation. That was a significant step forward as opposed to strictly command line operation -- once menus came along in the first place. The menu access you refer to, IOW, was born of necessity & was inherited by Windows.

The Mac OS, OTOH, was founded on the basis of a GUI. By its very design it tended toward avoidance of cryptic commands & keyboard navigation of the menu structure. The prevalence of Toolbars & the mouse made routine menu access by keystroke a less significant issue.

All that & the other commentary notwithstanding, just because keyboard access of menus isn't as blatantly obvious or as refined on a Mac as it may be on a Windows box doesn't mean it isn't there -- And you don't need any add-ins... You just need to study up a little on the Mac OS :-)

  • Yes, you do have to use Control+F2 to shift the focus to the Menu Bar.
  • Once there use Tab or Arrow keys to move across the bar, or
  • Type the first letter of the Menu you want to jump to. Just because it isn't underlined doesn't mean it doesn't work :-)
  • If there's more than one menu that begins with the same letter [i.e., File, Format] you may need to type 2-3 letters for the one you want.
  • Once the correct menu is selected press Down Arrow or return,
  • Then use the arrow keys or type 1 or more characters of the preferred command,
  • Press return when the command is highlighted

Is it a little more cumbersome [time-consuming]? Probably, but what the writer you 'plagiarized' doesn't take into account with regard to speed is that it's only faster for him because he's already spent a great deal of time memorizing the strokes he uses. The menu-based learning curve for new users is significantly steeper than what it is for a GUI.


What that user also makes no mention of is that in WinXL he's handcuffed by the fact that the only available keyboard shortcuts are those which MS deemed fit to provide. There is no ability to customize keyboard shortcuts in the Windows version, so it's understandable that one may have to rely much more heavily on the Alt key alternatives. As an "experienced" user of MacXL who had to transition to the Windows version, that constraint alone was brutal.


IMHO, the only thing that might satisfy the user's lament would be to have his own software on his own OS that always did what he wanted the way he wanted it when he wanted it that way & had the AI/clairvoyance to anticipate & adjust accordingly whenever he changed his mind :-)

AI: Artificial Intelligence or Automated Idiocy???
Please mark Yes/No as to whether a Reply answers your question.

Regards,
Bob J.

23 people found this reply helpful

·

Was this reply helpful?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for your feedback.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback.

 
 

Question Info


Last updated November 24, 2020 Views 36,068 Applies to: