Our Macs are steadfast creatures, a part of our lives, a member of the family. The Mac’s keyboard is important to us. So is the mouse.
What happens when your Mac’s mouse dies? Funeral? Prayer? Or, keyboard shortcuts?
This week we’re visited again by our guest columnist, writer Tom Coppinger of Dublin, Ireland. Tom’s last visit brought us tips on selecting a Mac application to write a best selling novel.
This time, Tom asks the question, “What do you do when your Mac’s mouse dies?” Me? I’d call Jack, then, when he’s thoroughly messed up the fix, I’d hold a brief funeral service, then head to the Mac store. It’s a ritual, but it works.
Tom has a different take on what to do when your mouse kicks the bucket with “When Your Mouse Dies.”
“We all know those dreaded words, usually from Dad at the wheel of the car: “I know a shortcut.” The whole family cringes, knowing that they’re about to get interminally lost in the back of beyond where chain-saw wielding mutants roam the land.
It’s different, of course, on a Mac, where a shortcut truly is a time-saving device. You can brag about the how easy shortcuts make your life, how a few simple keyboard commands save you from all manner of nasty RSI complaints. Heck, you might not even need a mouse!
I went to Spain a few years ago and convinced myself I’d be okay communicating. After all, I had those two years of Spanish in high school. I was hopeless. The reality is that the Spanish speak at a 1,000 words a second, and that my high school years preceded the last Ice Age.
I thought I knew Spanish. When the crunch came, I had more fingers than vocabulary.
The same is true of shortcuts. I thought I had a pretty good handle on them. I knew they were there, latent power at my fingertips, ready to unleash. But when my mouse died, I realized that all I really knew were copy, cut, paste, close, open, and quit.
My mouse is actually a trackball. And it didn’t die; I killed it. I’m always telling my boys, “Be careful with that! Don’t touch that! You’ll break it!” But I was cleaning the innards of my trackball (those little rubber rollers that attract lint; pre-optical, folks). And I broke it.
The Mac hummed, with six applications still open, awaiting my command. Right. Best thing to do, just shut it down. And that is . . . and that is . . .
I blanked. Not. A. Clue.
My cursor did work a little. It would go straight up and down. But not laterally. Pretty useless. I couldn’t get it up to the Menu. I couldn’t get it over to the Dock. I need keyboard mouse controls, and badly. I knew they were there, somewhere in Preferences. But I couldn’t get to Preferences.
l knew I had a spare mouse around the house. I ended up in the attic, ransacking a whole lotta boxed computer bits that should have been recycled ages ago. I found a mouse! Oh dear. ADB. Not USB. Did I have an adapter? I once had a hundred little adapaters, and saved them all. Nope. No adapter.
Common sense returned. I had my iBook! I went online, straight to Apple Support. Sweet, sweet article number 75459. All the keyboard shortcuts you ever wanted to know. I highly recommend you print this out and keep it somewhere handy. Laminate it. Enshrine it.
Finally I was back in control. Control-Eject. This was the command to bring up the Shutdown dialog box. Here I was, trying Command-Eject over and over, with no result. (Dementia sets in quite early.)
Control-F1. This turned on the Full Keyboard Access. Control-F3. This took me to the Dock. I now knew that the Universal Access preference pane was the place to go. It took some trial and error—lots of tabs and arrows and space bars—but I turned on the Mouse Keys.
This allowed me to move the cursor around with the numbers on the keypad. Crucially, ‘5’ is your mouse click. ‘0’ is your Mouse Down so you can drag stuff. Your decimal point ‘.’ releases. And every other number sends the cursor off in a direction.
There is an easier way. Press the Option Key 5 times to turn Mouse Keys on or off. That would have saved a lot of grief! Of course, this option must be ticked and set up beforehand in the Mouse Key preferences.
It’s all possible after Mouse Keys is turned on. I did have to go back to the panel and speed up the controls—so slow! I was now able to write my emails and investigate new mice/trackballs on line. Command-[ to go back. Command-] to go forward.
I got used to using the directional arrows to scroll down, instead of using the mouse. Some of it was fast; some of it was tedious. Some of it I should continue using to save myself time. I should even script the function buttons and use them more.
Shortcuts can get the job done. But it’s a bit like driving a sixteen gear stick-shift truck, when you’d rather be driving an automatic. In this situation, they were an essential parachute. If your mouse dies: don’t panic! It’s a valuable lesson. But whoever invented the mouse is very, very worthy. I can’t wait to get a new mouse.”