Tab Through All Fields On Mac OS X

There is a very small feature of Windows that I got accustomed to while I was stranded on a Dell back during 2003-2004. On a PC, you can tab through all fields in the interface and click with the space bar. A feature like that comes in handy when you’re a quick-key lover who doesn’t like to jump back and forth between the keys and the mouse(pad). But, what about on a Mac?

The image below is an example of a Windows alert that I could manipulate by simply tabbing to the checkbox and pressing the spacebar to select/deselect, then tab to the button option I prefer and select with spacebar once again.
Example Windows Alert Box

To enable this awesomely useful feature in OS X, follow the steps below:

  • Go to System Preferences
  • Select ‘Keyboard & Mouse’
  • Click the ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ tab
  • Choose ‘All Controls‘ under ‘Full keyboard access’ at the bottom

OS X Keyboard and Mouse Options

Voila! Now you can tab through input boxes, radio buttons and check boxes, etc in the Mac OS like you may already be used to doing in your web browser.

Safari Confirm Password Save

To disable, select ‘Text Boxes and Lists Only’ in the preferences. It may not stop immediately, though. Sometimes you have to hit Ctrl+F7 to get back to normal mode. (But why would you want to, silly!)



  1. Sal B writes:

    Done & Done. Thanks

  2. Zak writes:


    Now if only I could alt + tab between instances of the same application on a mac, I’d be set.

  3. Greg writes:

    Zak, do you mean switching between windows in an application? If so, that’s done with apple(?)+tilde(˜) keystroke.

  4. Greg writes:

    Oops! I just caused the wordpress database to error out by adding the quincunx symbol, it’s showing up as a question mark… Oh well, it’s the “apple key” on the left of the spacebar.

  5. Zak writes:

    Oh thanks Greg, awesome!

  6. Guest writes:

    Thanks fellas!

  7. Jake writes:

    Yes! I just switched to Mac from Windows and this was one shortcut I really missed. Thank you for this tip!!

  8. Diana writes:

    Thank you! Ive been in search of this for the longest!

  9. Mike Marcos writes:

    Was just complaining about this yesterday :p

  10. Katie writes:

    This isn’t working.

  11. Mareo Raft writes:

    This feature is both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to tab through dialogue boxes, but it also forces you to tab through all the buttons on all of your applications.

    If you used to use tab in iTunes to go from the search to the playlists to the song field, for example, it now tabs through a lot of new fields you don’t want.

    I hope apple will separate this feature into two options. Seems like its everything or nothing right now.