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.”