Home > Switching to Mac > Tab Skips Select Form Fields in Mac Browsers

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.

Categories: Switching to Mac Tags:
  1. November 21st, 2007 at 10:49 | #1

    Thank you! I have been annoyed by this for nearly a year. Finally got frustrated enough to do a search and found your post at the top of my Google search. Very helpful!

  2. Harold
    November 21st, 2007 at 23:21 | #2

    Thanks for being one of the best answers to a vexing problem! my google search was: apple forms tab select

  3. Felix
    November 26th, 2007 at 12:24 | #3

    So simple, yet so awesome..:)

  4. Jess
    November 28th, 2007 at 11:17 | #4

    You just made my day. Seriously.

    I knew there was the option I just didn’t know where and you have shown me the light!

  5. November 30th, 2007 at 12:28 | #5

    In firefox, you must also correctly set the tabFocus option.

    Basically, go to about:config and set/add accessibility.tabfocus

    See details on mozillas knowledgebase: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Accessibility.tabfocus

  6. Manigault
    December 4th, 2007 at 11:52 | #6

    Thank you SO MUCH!

  7. Kip
    December 8th, 2007 at 18:38 | #7

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! Oh, so many thanks!!!

  8. December 21st, 2007 at 10:31 | #8

    Holy CRAP this is awesome. I’m such a command user and just switched to mac – this has been such a pain in the but for me. YOU MADE MY DAY! Thanks.

    (heck yeah, mac – MAKE THIS DEFAULT!)

  9. Renee
    December 28th, 2007 at 21:26 | #9

    Thank you, Nick – it wasn’t working for me in Firefox until I read your clarification. Now it is perfect!

  10. Rog
    January 2nd, 2008 at 16:06 | #10


  11. Josh
    January 14th, 2008 at 23:32 | #11

    This was SOOOO frustrating. You are my hero. Thanks a million.

  12. Corey
    January 17th, 2008 at 04:03 | #12

    THANK YOU!!!!!! Why wouldn’t they set that as default? THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  13. January 29th, 2008 at 19:22 | #13

    Just continuing the love fest, I can’t thank you enough, that’s been driving me nuts….

  14. JT
    February 12th, 2008 at 15:23 | #14

    Two years later and you’re still making people happy. Thanks so much!

  15. angelica
    February 24th, 2008 at 07:46 | #15

    Thank you! I’ve been searching for a “fix” for this problem and it was so easy thanks to you! You’re right, this should be the default setting.

  16. Chris
    March 23rd, 2008 at 13:27 | #16

    Manuel [comment no 3] I did a search for “osx+how to tab to submit button when entering forms” and found this as the second result.

    Thanks for posting this – I brought a MBP and this is one of the things that was annoying me a little bit – I work as 3rd line support to XP users so I can fly around that system [as well as Linux].

    Now all I need is to have some surgery on my fatty fingers as my typo rate has gone through the roof using my MBP!!! ;-)

  17. rhs
    March 30th, 2008 at 14:38 | #17

    Thanks a lot! Solved my long standing annoyance with mac.

  18. April 2nd, 2008 at 12:52 | #18

    “This allows me to avoid picking up the mouse and making my carpal tunnel any worse than it currently is.” … I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend getting yourself a WACOM tablet if this is a problem for you. As a web developer for the past 7 years, I’ve found it indispensable for all computer related activity. The Graphite is a good model.

  19. Benny P
    April 22nd, 2008 at 14:01 | #19

    Thankyou thankyou!! Its been a pet hate since day one!

  20. April 24th, 2008 at 07:22 | #20

    thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou

    I have been looking for this for over a year!

  21. yorgie
    April 27th, 2008 at 18:59 | #21

    I found on my macbook I had to manually click to the password field on the yahoo mail login screen. I changed this option, and still the same result. I can tab to the field on any windows PC. Any idea what is special about the yahoo mail login screen that in safari on os x 10.5 I can’t tab?

  22. Eric
    May 9th, 2008 at 09:57 | #22

    Apple always prides themselves on how user friendly they are … WTF they have tabbing skip buttons by default is ANNOYING. I, too, use my keyboard as much as possible b/c of tendinitis in my hand. Thanks for posting how to fix this.

  23. Sid
    May 21st, 2008 at 17:14 | #23

    I’m confused by a lot of the comments on here. My system preferences for the keyboard is set to the default of ‘Text boxes and lists only’ – *not* ‘All controls’ as listed above, and I’ve never come across the issue of being unable to tab to a drop down list (in Safari, Omniweb) – Firefox seems like it may rely on the second option (though, it is not really listening to it, as it is a list)… I don’t really use firefox, unless testing something though, which is why I’ve not come across this myself, I guess.

    I see it as a possible issue in Firefox, if Safari and Omniweb can both work without setting that option to select drop down lists.

  24. Steve Taylor
    May 22nd, 2008 at 17:14 | #24

    Good lord. You have been sent from heaven. I have been searching for this for 7 months since getting the Mac. Today I learn this and how to stop Safari becoming the default browser too. Deep joy. Another PC Convert sees a big light!

    All power to you Sir!

  25. Ross
    May 29th, 2008 at 15:54 | #25

    I routinely use a CMS on Firefox with many tabulated links – so you made my day too! Only a week since I made the switch from PC.

  26. yoyo
    May 29th, 2008 at 21:55 | #26

    Bloody freaking hell, I thank you!

  27. snipe
    June 11th, 2008 at 19:22 | #27

    You freaking RULE. I’m a new mac user and this was making me INSANE. Thank you so much!!

  28. Ben
    June 17th, 2008 at 09:32 | #28

    Thanks a ton! This has been driving me nuts for the last 6 weeks after switching over, can’t believe I put up with it for this long.

  29. beth
    June 20th, 2008 at 18:43 | #29

    Note: You have to restart your browser for the changes to take effect :)

  30. double-u
    June 29th, 2008 at 11:36 | #30

    Thanks for pointing this out!! Almost gone crazy while configuring MySQL using phpMyAdmin WITHOUT tabbing.
    Thank you very, very much! :)

  31. bc
    July 4th, 2008 at 00:13 | #31

    I just “upgraded” to Leopard a week ago, and I was seriously regretting it, and even more regretting ever having bought this Macbook, which in recent months had been gathering dust as I reaquainted myself with Windows (don’t flame me, I hate MS as much as the next person, but in many ways the interface is better thought out than with Os X) and explored various desktop environments in Linux. What was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the fact that in Safari , if I wanted to change the folder a bookmark was going into, I had to use the touchpad, I couldn’t just hit tab to get to that option. Infuriating.

    Your tip may have saved some innocent person walking past my building from getting beaned by a flying Macbook. God bless you!

  32. tony
    July 4th, 2008 at 07:21 | #32

    Heh. I’m just glad that Macbook didn’t hit the floor after hitting someone in the head. :)

  33. Mark
    July 12th, 2008 at 23:38 | #33

    Awesome, thank you!
    It was working normally but I guess I pressed ^F7 a week ago and it was driving me nuts!

  34. Sit1way
    July 31st, 2008 at 15:17 | #34

    Great, I switched last month and the more tricks I discover, the more I love OSX ;–)

  35. new mac lover
    July 31st, 2008 at 22:44 | #35

    O. M. G.

    thank you thank you a thousand thank you’s.

  36. Jason
    August 30th, 2008 at 22:42 | #36

    Fantastic tip! I originally thought this was just something buggy going on in Firefox, then realized it was for the whole system. I am an avid Mac user and have been for a couple years now…so glad you made this post!! Thanks a bunch…

  37. kath
    September 4th, 2008 at 03:55 | #37

    its still not working!!!
    driving me up the wall, i need help!!

  38. Dave
    September 11th, 2008 at 15:36 | #38

    THANK YOU – you have saved my sanity today and here forward!!!!!

  39. Stephanie
    October 1st, 2008 at 10:34 | #39

    ahh this is so convenient! it’s one thing i really missed about my pc. thanks!

  40. Ash
    October 20th, 2008 at 13:23 | #40

    Thanks a ton!

  41. Lindsay Morris
    October 20th, 2008 at 20:33 | #41

    You totally rock.

  42. Danielle R
    November 3rd, 2008 at 18:19 | #42

    I just googled this out of frustration. I am so happy that I did. I’ve had my mac over a year. And even when I tell people about how happy I am with my switch to mac, I always have to mention this as my only peeve. Thanks and I’ll be spreading the word!

  43. Justin E.
    November 11th, 2008 at 21:55 | #43

    Thank you so very much! I just googled this and your site came up. I am so glad it did. You ahve made my night! :-) Thanks again!

  44. nico
    December 12th, 2008 at 02:08 | #44

    thanx. it was really annoying.

    fresh switcher from ubuntu

  45. Tim
    December 30th, 2008 at 16:05 | #45

    Huh, finally got annoyed enough to Google this up. Thanks for the tip.

  46. December 31st, 2008 at 15:13 | #46

    Perfect solution! This was so easy, and I am thrilled that I found this. It was my one drawback for Firefox.

  47. January 2nd, 2009 at 13:27 | #47

    No such option on 10.3 :|
    fuck :|

  48. Stephen
    January 28th, 2009 at 18:15 | #48

    Thank you very much! This was driving me crazy in Google Calendar, not being able to tab to change which calendar I was adding an event to!

  49. February 11th, 2009 at 02:57 | #49

    Default. Agreed. Bigtime.

  50. Dustin
    March 11th, 2009 at 10:27 | #50

    wow.. i feel relieved.. and really dumb.. thank you for this

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