keyboard shortcuts

Pick and Choose F-key usage (Brightness, Sound, Dashboard, etc.) on a Mac

For the longest time, I've flip-flopped on whether to check the 'Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys' option in the Keyboard System Preference pane.

I love using the volume up and down keys on the keyboard, and probably use them fifty times a day. I sometimes like using the 'Dashboard' key too. I rarely use the media control keys. I'm undecided on the F1/F2 keys, though... I would like to use them as brightness control on my MacBook Air keyboard, but when my Air is plugged into my external monitor and keyboard, I want to use those as F1 and F2 (especially for code folding in TextMate).

Lucky for me, I found this great bit of freeware: FunctionFlip.

It's a System Preference pane that lets you choose which F keys are used as standard function keys, and which ones are used for the marked purposes (brightness, volume, etc.). AND, you can even set things different depending on what keyboard you're using. Nice!

Force-Sleep the Display on a 2010-2011 MacBook Air

[Update: It looks like Mountain Lion finally restored this functionality—you can press Shift + Control + Power key, and the screen will immediately go to sleep.]

The 2010/2011 MacBook Air models are all amazing, and I believe Apple will eventually convert all their Mac laptops to the same basic design (just different sizes), forgoing the optical drives.

The only downside to this new design is the lack of an eject key—of course, most people probably only knew the key could eject discs, so it's no big loss for them. I, however, use that key in a standard Shift + Control + Eject combination to instantly turn off my Mac's display to conserve power and prevent any pixel ghosting. I've used the combo for a few years, and it took me some time to find out a way to reliably do something similar on my new 11" MacBook Air.

There are a few ways you can get this functionality back:

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