Writer’s Workshop: Keyboard Follies

Image by Daniel Agrelo from Pixabay

I bought a MacBook Air a few months ago, and I really like it, but I’m still learning its quirks. At home I use a Mac Mini with a PC keyboard and wireless mouse from Amazon for a couple of reasons:

  1. Apple’s mouse and keyboard are really expensive. I can get a PC keyboard for about $15 and a PC mouse for about $10. The same combination from Apple costs about $100.
  2. Apple’s mouse only has one button. Press it and it’s equivalent to a left-click on a PC. If you want the equivalent of a right-click, you have to hold down one of the Command keys (the equivalent of the Windows key) before you click. I only have one functioning hand (thus the name of the blog) and thus doing this is difficult at best. On the other hand, if I use a normal two-button mouse (three if you include the scroll wheel), it functions the same way as on a PC: right-clicking brings up the context menu, which I just happen to use a lot.

The MacBook has pretty much the same problem as any laptop, namely the position of the trackpad that many users use instead of a mouse. Out of necessity, I have to turn it off, because, since I type with one hand, my hand is always sliding back and forth across the trackpad, moving the cursor with it, and it’s a real mess. Fortunately, the PC mouse works great on the MacBook, too, and the operating system will shut off the trackpad if it sees I’ve attached a mouse.

One of the other problems, and the thing that drove me crazy, is that there’s no Delete key on the MacBook keyboard. There’s a key marked “delete,” but that’s a backspace, namely, pressing it deletes one character to the left of the cursor. On my keyboard at home, there’s a key marked Delete that deletes a character to the right of the cursor, in addition to the backspace key. I use both keys pretty much the same amount, because I change my mind on what I’m writing, and sometimes I decide to insert something in the middle of a line that means I can delete everything after the insert.

I’ve lived with this for a few months, remembering to position the cursor at the end of what I want to delete and backspacing. Today, I decided that was a pain in the ass and set about finding a way to delete characters after the cursor, so I DuckDuckGoed “mac delete forward” and discovered that it’s a common issue MacBook users have. I had to go through the first ten links to find the answer I was looking for. Those ten links brought me to forums where people asked it, and were told either to purchase a keyboard-remapping application that sold at the “cheap at twice the price” cost of $36 or to “suck it up, buttercup! You’re on Mac now, and that’s just the way things are! If you don’t like it, go back to a PC! All hail the late Steve Jobs!” Still others questioned the sanity of wanting to delete something you hadn’t typed yet.

Finally, I got to an official Apple website that told me to hold down the Fn key (which is in the lower left-hand corner of the keyboard) as I press the delete key (in the upper right-hand corner). Which would be fine if I had hands like Paganini, who had Marfan syndrome and could reach about ten frets on the guitar, or if I had use of both hands, which, as we’ve discussed previously, I don’t. I kept looking, and discovered that there’s a second and far easier method to do the delete: press the Control and D keys. And I tried it, and it worked like a charm. I can do that very comfortably. Problem solved; crisis averted.

We need a song. From 1961, Patsy Cline (one of my favorite singers), Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”

25 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Keyboard Follies

  1. Perfect song, John. Sums up so much of what I’ve been dealing with.

    I applaud your MAC expertise, not being a user of anything but my current Windows system which…Microsoft will discontinue support for next year. As I’ve dealt with the demons lurking in WIN 10 and ran back to 7, I have a lot to think about going forward.

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    1. Consider Linux Mint. It’s a lot like Windows and will install on your current machine. Windows 10 ruined my laptop and I couldn’t get back to 7, so that’s what I did. Linux is different from Windows (but very similar to Mac OS), and there’s some software that won’t run on it, so depending on what you need it might not be a good fit. There is a Linux package called Wine that allows you to install and run Windows software that I’ve generally had good luck with, but that’s no guarantee it’ll work for everything.

      And, if you have the money, I’ve been very happy with Mac, so that would be another choice. I got off the Microsoft crazy train with Vista…

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  2. Wow, how frustrating to find a working solution that also requires two hands. 😦 I’m so glad you kept searching for a better solution! And how ingenious to pair the mac with the PC mouse. I didn’t know you could do that! I think a mouse that does not operate with a left/right click would drive me mad!

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    1. I think Mac OS X was where the operating system switched to a form of Unix, and when the Mini came out, they started selling it as a way to migrate from Windows, because you could use the keyboard, monitor and mouse you already had. I was in the market for a new computer, and it was about the time that Vista came out and broke Windows, so I knew I didn’t want another Windows box. Oddly enough, Mac is still selling their one-button mouse, but I can’t see shelling out $50 and having to press keys to get it to work. That’s just silly.

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  3. Haha! I love the song you chose after this post. I understand. My Chromebook doesn’t delete what I haven’t written either and I don’t like it one bit! I’m glad you worked it out.

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  4. I don’t like using the trackpad either. I don’t feel I have as much control. I, too, would wonder why you’s want to delete something not yet typed but glad you figured a way out for it. What about configuring one of the function keys to do what you want? I know I’m speaking out of my depth here, especially to you!

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    1. I looked for a way to reprogram one of the keys to do it for me, and there wasn’t one, but the control-D thing solved the problem. The forward delete comes in handy when you’re editing something, like a blog entry or a program. I tend to use the backspace when I’m writing something new.

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  5. John,

    I have an old Macbook Air. I had to retire it a few years back when it developed a battery problem. I have an iMac which came with a nice keyboard. I also have the Apple mouse which I really like and you can configure it to enable right-click. There’s always something about one you like better than the other. It’s just a matter of getting used to and finding workarounds. BTW, I sent you the 4M linky code to two different email addresses that I have for you. Keep an eye open of it to arrive. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you on the dance floor!

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        1. The transition from Windows to Mac was easy for me, because I already had experience with Unix (Mac OS is a form of Unix), so the directory structure and command line (yes, I’m one of those people who does a significant amount of work in Terminal) are the same. Most of what I do can be done through the browser (though I’ve never liked Safari, except as a way to download Firefox), so it’s six of one, a half-dozen of the other. Most of the quirks for me are the software they deliver with the operating system that I have no use for but can’t remove (e.g. News, Stocks, Maps etc.).

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    1. I took a look at the tygpress.com website and there was a search box. I typed in the name of my blog (in quotes) and it gave me a page of blog posts by a few of my readers (Ally Bean, Jim Adams) and a bunch of A to Z Challenge related articles. None from my blog, but it was as though it was grabbing articles that were sorta-kinda related to my blog. When I put your blog name in, It came back with a few pages from your blog as well as a blog called A La Carte.

      In short, I haven’t a clue what’s going on… I’m not even sure that it’s an individual that’s running the page, more like a bot. I did turn up an address that seems to be an alternate for it, tygpress.prox4you.pro, but can’t find any whois data on it. The name suggests that it’s a proxy server, and I’ve been getting a lot of spam from and about proxy servers.

      I’ll post this over on your blog as well, so I’m sure you’ll see it.

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