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Tab Skips Select Form Fields in Mac Browsers

This has been one of those super annoying things about switching to the Mac OS X. When filling in a form on a web page I like to use the tab key to advance to the next form field. This allows me to avoid picking up the mouse and making my carpal tunnel any worse than it currently is. Unfortunately when tabbing in a form, it always skips over select lists such as a drop down list of states therefore I have to pickup the mouse. Ugg. This is the case in both the Safari and Firefox (Deer Park) browser.

keyboard tab form fields

Here is the solution: Open up System Preferences, click ‘Keyboard and Mouse’, and select the option “All Controls” at the bottom of the window next to “In Windows and Dialogs press Tab to move the keyboard focus between”.

It even works for dialog boxes such as javascript popup confirmations.

Oh happy day! I’m starting to truly feel like this Mac really can do everything that I could do on my PC. Its just a matter of learning all the tricks.

Pssst– Hey Apple. Make this one default.

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  1. freqmode
    March 30th, 2009 at 07:55 | #1

    How is this not the default?!?!?! Thanks for the tip. Another case of Apple trying to make things ‘too’ easy. I’ll submit a request to have this made default to Apple Care.

  2. Ken
    June 19th, 2009 at 19:36 | #2

    I know this is an old post, but it came up first on a Google search of “mac firefox tab between fields” so it’s still relevant!

    I’m running Max OS 10.5.7, Safari 4.0, FireFox 3.0.11

    You’re tip for changing System Preferences did work for FireFox. That tab-over dropdown fields is infuriating, and I’m glad for that solution.

    I don’t know when this feature was released, but in the version of Safari I listed, there is now a setting that solves the problem without changing System Preferences.

    In Safari Preferences, go to Advanced>Universal Access and check “Press Tab to hightlight each item on a webpage.”

    This has the benefit of highlighting every clickable element on a web page, and while you fill in a form, just happens to work nifty there, too.


  3. dan
    August 11th, 2009 at 15:40 | #3

    this has been driving me nuts since i switched in 2004! I thought macs were just retarded on this one issue……. :)

  4. Jeff
    August 19th, 2009 at 10:07 | #4

    Thanks, man. Years later and this is still a relevant post. I also can’t believe this is not the default. I started using the Mac full time several months ago, and had been living with this frustrating issue for too long. Fortunately, your page came up at the top when Googling for “mac tab to button”.

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