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mac function keys switchSince early 2008, all portable Macs (MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air) have introduced media control keys and specific keys for Exposé and Dashboard. These keys, while greatly appreciated for everyday use, quickly become a hassle when playing games, especially FPS games like Counter-Strike and Quake Quake Live - Free Online Shooting Game in Your Browser Quake Live - Free Online Shooting Game in Your Browser Read More where mapping keys like F1, F2 and so on are critical time-savers.

Problem

While in these games, the regular function keys can only be invoked by holding the Fn button and the function key together. Most of the time, I miss and nothing happens (although my screen does become dimmer). Basically, it’s annoying.

Other than that, some people with chubby fingers might not appreciate that the media control keys (F7, F8, F9) are not only small but located so closely together. Even with the slender fingers that I have, I sometimes hit “Next” instead of “Pause”.

Solution

FunctionFlip is a pretty cool preference pane that will allow you to easily to “flip” these media control keys or brightness control keys back to the regular function keys. Basically using this app you can switch Mac function keys to perform different actions. You can turn special keys back to regular F-keys, or vice-versa.

FunctionFlip appears in System Preferences under the ‘Other’ section. You are able to decide exactly which keys you want flipped. But before that, make sure that you have ‘Enable access for assistive devices’ checked under Universal Access in System Preferences.

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mac function keys changed

The special functions are still available after the keys are flipped – to invoke them, you’ll need to press the Fn button and the corresponding F-key together. Simple, right? It also works if you have a recent external Apple keyboard with the media control keys. FunctionFlip lets you set which keys to flip on each keyboard individually.

FunctionFlip is listed to work with MacBook, MacBook Pro, iBook, PowerBooks and external Apple keyboards. The author didn’t mention anything about MacBook Air but it is a safe assumption that it will work with Air too. If you’re having difficulty with a certain keyboard, the author welcomes inquiries.

FunctionFlip is Universal Binary and requires Leopard. Grab it here.

  1. Adam
    March 4, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Um... You do realize that on the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane, you can set it so that you have to press Fn+key to invoke the shortcut, right?

    It's the check box labeled: "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys"

    There. Problem solved, no special download needed.

    • Jackson
      March 4, 2009 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks for bringing that up. I forgot to mention that in my article above. The difference is FunctionFlip allows you to select individual keys to flip. So you can deactivate the brightness control keys and retain the media keys.

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