My purchase of a 2012 MacBook Air dragged me kicking and screaming away from my beloved Snow Leopard and into Mountain Lion, a transition I had put off for as long as I could. I’m getting used to it now, and even appreciate some of Mountain Lion’s offerings (full screen, desktops, Mission Control), though I still detest the depressing gray toolbars and sidebars, which are a huge step backward in usability and workflow efficiency.
Then there are the aspects that I don’t care about one way or the other, such as Launchpad. I really have no need to see all of my application icons gridded across the screen, thanks. I’ve got LaunchBar for instant app launching (and so much more). By far the best thing about Launchpad is its cool icon, which I promptly reassigned to LaunchBar right before tossing Launchpad out of the Dock.
But there was one Launchpad-oriented change that wasn’t so easy to fix: the dedicated function key on my Air’s keyboard. To my horror, this key has now replaced the dedicated Dashboard key, which I used a gazillion times a day.
I don’t need the Launchpad key and I don’t want it. What I do want is my Dashboard key back.
Alas, OS X will only allow you a binary choice: either all of the F-keys retain their special functions, or they can all be reverted to normal, assignable function keys. You can’t reassign just one of them.
Enter FunctionFlip, a preference pane developed by Kevin Gessner. This lovely bit of code allows you to flip only selected keys from one state to the other. It took me about five seconds to install the preference pane, select “Apple Internal Keyboard” as the one to be changed (the pane is smart enough to know you might have an external keyboard as well, which I do), and check the one key I wanted to flip.
Then I went into Keyboard Shortcuts (Keyboard Preference Pane) and edited the “Show Dashboard” shortcut to make it F4. You can also do this in the Mission Control Preference Pane, using the drop down menu.
Voila, my F4 “Launchpad” key is now a proper Dashboard key. Rainbows and happy kittens! Or at least a happy Mac geek.
FunctionFlip is free, but I made a small donation. Actually, given how extremely useful this is and how many times per day I’m going to tap that key, I should have given more. Perhaps this post will help drive a little business Mr. Gessner’s way.
The Mac developer community is one of the best things about owning a Mac. It seems like every time I run into a situation where I think, “Surely there’s got to be a better way,” somebody else has thought it too — and coded it.