How to Adjust Keyboard Settings in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

How to Adjust Keyboard Settings in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Mac OS X Lion users have different hardware setups, and no two of them use their keyboards in the same way. Regardless of what you have, you should give some thought to customizing the way your keyboard interacts with Mac OS X Lion so it feels “just right” for you.

The Keyboard System Preferences panes offer several tabs to let you modify the behavior of your keyboard. So the first thing to do is open the Keyboard preferences pane by choosing Apple→System Preferences and clicking the Keyboard icon.

The Keyboard System Preferences pane has two tabs— Keyboard and Keyboard Shortcuts. On the Keyboard tab, you can adjust your settings in the following ways:

  • Drag the Key Repeat Rate slider to set how fast a key repeats when you hold it down.

  • Drag the Delay Until Repeat slider to set how long you have to hold down a key before it starts repeating.

    You can type in the box that says Type Here to Test Settings to test your settings before exiting this tab.

If you have a notebook Mac (such as a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air), you also see one or more of these additional features:

  • All F1, F2 Keys As Standard Function Keys: If this check box is selected, the F keys at the top of your keyboard control the active software application.

    To use the special hardware features printed on each F key (display brightness, screen mirroring, sound volume, mute, and so on), you have to press the Fn (Function) key before pressing the F key. If the check box is left deselected, you have to press the Fn key if you want to use the F keys with a software application.

  • Illuminate Keyboard in Low Light Conditions: This check box turns your laptop’s ambient keyboard lighting on and off.

  • Turn Off When Computer Is Not Used For: This slide control lets you determine how long the ambient keyboard lighting remains on when your computer isn’t in use.

    If your notebook computer doesn’t have ambient keyboard lighting, as many don’t, you don’t see the last two items.

  • Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in the Menu Bar: This check box adds a new menu for opening either of these useful windows.


    Click Emoji in list on the left of the Character Viewer window to insert whimsical smiley faces and hundreds of other images into your documents.


  • Input Sources button: Switches to the Language & Text System Preferences pane’s Input Sources tab, where you can to display one or more foreign language keyboards in the Input menu.

  • Modifier Keys button: Lets you change the action performed by the Caps Lock, Control, Option, and Command keys. It’s particularly useful if you use a non-Apple keyboard, although it works just fine on Apple keyboards too.