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.
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.