Dialog Button Keyboard Shortcuts

Some Mac dialogs have keyboard shortcuts; Command-D for Don’t Save is probably the most common. One way to make these handy shortcuts a wee bit more discoverable is to display the Command symbol ? (what is sometimes referred to as the “flower”) and desaturate everything but the shortcut key letter when the Command key is depressed.

For the common Save dialog, you would see this when Command is held down:

Save sheet with overlaid Command symbol

The iTunes Info window:

iTunes' Info window with overlaid Command symbol

Ellington & Coltrane together — what could be better?!

The relevant buttons would need to be resized to comfortably accommodate the Command symbol.

Published by

Daniel J. Wilson

I am a designer, drummer, and photographer in Brooklyn, NY.

4 thoughts on “Dialog Button Keyboard Shortcuts”

  1. The flower is a nice addition, but a bit distracting. Since the ‘flowered’ button is commonly the first letter in an good dialog box, I would put a de-sat’d flower in front of the first letter instead. Or I’d not desat the rest of the text (too distracting), but rather bold the first part (probably more correct)

    OR, failing that, A light flower, with a bolder first letter would also do. I’m just not a big fan of changing the tone of text to represent change.

  2. My thinking was that desaturating all but the actual shortcut letter would be consistent with how command shortcuts are displayed in the menus. I thought about underlining the shortcut letter, but a mockup showed it to be pretty damn ugly. I’ll try out your ideas for alternative implementations and hopefully post something soon.

  3. Unfortunately, one probably couldn’t do the “Don’t Save FnD” on the button like in the menus. I just think a change in font weight is more important than one in font colour or saturation.

  4. This is actually one thing I can’t stand about Macs… lack of keyboard shortcuts. Windows is chock-full of them. Although I am now using LaunchBar, which helps greatly.

    For this example, I never knew you could use keyboard shortcuts on some dialog boxes. Another thing you can’t do is simply TAB between options in dialog boxes. Unless you know how?? If there can’t be a keyboard shortcut, there should at least be an option to TAB. I hate reaching for the mouse every time I see a dialog box.

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