Mac OS X 10.6.0 (Snow Leopard): How to fix the ‘Cycle Through Windows’ shortcut

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 1st, 2009 • 8:48 am

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that Snow Leopard introduces a new bug for users of French Canadian keyboards with the “Canadian French – CSA” keyboard layout, which is that the system-wide keyboard shortcut for the “Cycle Through Windows” command is no longer the expected command-Ù, but the decidedly less convenient command-shift-option-À.

Well, I am glad to report that a Betalogue reader has already found the solution to this problem.

In the new, revamped “Keyboard” preference pane in Snow Leopard, various system-wide commands are now grouped within various categories, and one of them, labelled “Keyboard and Text Input,” contains a command labelled “Move focus to next window in application”:

Keyboard pref pane

In spite of the unexpected command name, this is actually the “Cycle Through Windows” command. And by default it is assigned the command-`, which turns out to be command-shift-option-À on the Canadian CSA keyboard.

But this shortcut is editable, and you can change it to whatever you like. As the screen shot above shows, I changed it back to command-Ù and, sure enough, now the command-Ù shortcut works in every Mac OS X application as a shortcut for the “Cycle Through Windows” command, including in applications where the “Cycle Through Windows” command does not appear explicitly in the “Window” menu.

This is great news and we can thank Betalogue reader Steve Nygard for it.

I should also note that this “Move focus to next window in application” command already appears in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and possibly older versions of Mac OS X. In Mac OS X 10.5, it is listed under “Keyboard Navigation” in the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab of the “Keyboard & Mouse” preference pane.

So you can already customize it in Mac OS X 10.5. The difference between 10.5 and 10.6 is that, for users of the Canadian CSA keyboard, the default keyboard shortcut in 10.5 for the command was already the right one (which is why I never noticed it in the first place). In 10.6, if you want command-Ù, you have to customize the shortcut. But it takes 10 seconds, so it really is no big deal.

This is a big relief for me, because the “Cycle Through Windows” command is very important to me.

The question remains why the command is not labelled “Cycle Through Windows” in the preference pane, when that is precisely what it is called in the only Mac OS X application where it appears explicitly as a menu command in the “Window” menu, i.e. the Finder:

Cycle Through Windows

And the other question would be why, in their response to my bug reports about this particular issue, Apple’s engineers did not point out that the keyboard shortcut was customizable through the “Move focus to next window in application” command in the “Keyboard” preference pane in System Preferences. It would have saved us a fair amount of trouble. Maybe they don’t know their own system as well as they should…

On a side note, another reader wrote to point out that `, the backtick key, is not located next to the left Shift key on the U.S. keyboard layout, and that it is actually located “over the Tab key.” I don’t know… My comments were based on the keyboard layout I see when I select “U.S.” as the keyboard layout in my input menu and bring up the keyboard viewer:

U.S. layout

But it is quite possible that the layout show here is different from what users of an actual U.S. keyboard get, because Mac OS X somehow detects the presence of my Canadian CSA keyboard and that causes it to alter the U.S. layout that it displays for me on my machine. I don’t have an actual U.S. keyboard handy to verify this.

As per usual, thanks to the Betalogue readers who wrote in with comments on my previous post.

One Response to “Mac OS X 10.6.0 (Snow Leopard): How to fix the ‘Cycle Through Windows’ shortcut”

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