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Summary:

At my desktop workstation I use an external keyboard and mouse with my Mac notebooks, and one keyboard function I really miss when I use them in actual hands-on laptop mode is the freestanding keyboard’s dedicated Forward Delete key. It’s something I’m accustomed to having, use […]

At my desktop workstation I use an external keyboard and mouse with my Mac notebooks, and one keyboard function I really miss when I use them in actual hands-on laptop mode is the freestanding keyboard’s dedicated Forward Delete key. It’s something I’m accustomed to having, use frequently, and find annoying when it’s not available.

Apple actually does build a forward delete function into its notebook keyboards, although it requires pressing a modifier key. If you have a G3 Series or newer PowerBook, iBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook or MacBook Air, you can delete the character to the right of your cursor by pressing fn-Delete (function-Delete). All Mac laptops since the PowerBook G3 Series have had an fn modifier key.

While this is not as convenient as having a real, dedicated Forward Delete key, it’s a lot better than no forward delete function at all.

One Touch Forward Delete

There is also a way to have one-touch forward delete on your laptop’s keyboard. DoubleCommand is open-source Preference Panel software for Mac OS X that lets you remap key functions. They’re often used to make PC keyboards more comfortable and convenient to use with a Mac, for instance swapping the Alt (Option) and Windows (Command or Apple) keys, since they’re in swapped positions on Mac and PC keyboards. DoubleCommand also allows you to reconfigure one of the more redundant keys on a notebook’s keyboard (say, the Backslash key) to work as a Forward Delete key.

double_command

You can configure DoubleCommand to use the right Option key as Forward Delete, Control or Enter, swap Delete and Forward Delete, and use Caps Lock as Forward Delete, to name a few examples.

  1. nice!

    finally the last thing windows users complain about has a work-a-round, though, i think i would use the shift+delete for forward delete instead. don’t take my backslash key away!

    ^_^

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  2. These kinds of workarounds have been in existence for a long time.

    I found as a former Windows user, that it took me about a week to get used to the idea of not having a “forward delete” and then I never thought about it again, (possibly because it never really made any sense that the “forward delete” even exists.)

    I much prefer the rationality of *not* having the key and I find that if you are a reasonably good typist you don’t miss it.

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  3. Was it not Microsoft that broke from the norm? I thought all per windows machines all had back delete as the main delete key then MS came and swapped it round, like the control & option buttons. Apple, predating windows, just kept with what was the convention.

    There is an argument that it’s useful to have forward delete in word processors but you can get used to either quite easily. One of my friends who is an author and only ever used macs finds the idea of forward delete weird.

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  4. Sacrificing the backslash for forward delete is definitely not for power-users. Both the and the | that reside on that key provide critical functions on the command line. I get that the location is attractive, but those characters are available for a reason.

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  5. [...] surfaces in Germany (jkOnTheRun) 5 free online answer sites for tech questions (WebWorkerDaily) How to forward delete on Apple notebooks (TheAppleBlog) Will renewable standards spur Moore’s Law for cleantech? (Earth2Tech) [...]

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  6. What you miss is that Cocoa apps come with many emacs key-bindings built in. Ctrl-D deletes forward, Ctrl-A goes to the beginning of the line, Ctrl-E to the end, Ctrl-K deletes from the cursor position to the end of the line, Crtl-F move one character forward, Ctrl-B and one character back, Ctrl-T swaps the two characters either side of the cursor and so forth… If you use Emacs as a text editor (either in Terminal or in one of the GUI apps) then they become second nature.

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  7. why not just use fn + backspace? works for me perfectly well
    UK configured unibody macbook: 10.5.6

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  8. Why not use (Key 1) + (Key 2)? Because those are two keys. With any interface, I prefer the path of least resistance for commonly used commands or keystrokes.*

    Put another way, imagine there was no single Tab key, only a combination of keys. Sure, you could use that combo, but you’d much prefer there to be a single key solution.

    *What may be commonly used for me, may not be so for you.

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  9. On my MBP, I made the “Enter” key to the left of the arrow keys my forward delete button.

    (And why’s the screenshot above stretched vertically?)

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  10. Lack of a simplistic one-key solution to forward delete was (and still is) my biggest complaint since switching to Apple. (Although, Jonestly, there are quite a few little Apple quirks that slow down those familiar with Window’s very logical placement of things). It is a REAL PAIN when it comes to editing, and does indeed slow one down even after becoming accustomed.

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