iMac question - function keys?

I’ve got a few iMac questions that I’m hoping someone can answer.

First, what is the purpose of the function keys on the iMac keyboard? None of the programs I operate seem to rely on them for anything.

Second, is it possible to program them for shortcuts? If so, how?

Third (and the question that started me thinking about this), is it possible to program a function key as a “forwards delete” key? I don’t know if that’s the right term. On my computer keyboard at work, there’s the “backwards delete” key, which deletes the character to the left of the cursor, and the “forwards delete” key, which deletes the character to the right of the cursor. My iMac keyboard only has a “backwards delete” key. It would be very handy if I could program the F11 or F12 key to be a “forwards delete” key.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

There are two Imacs at one of my school’s computer labs. When I pushed a function button, a box popped up saying that the function button isn’t assigned to anything, and you have to go to the control panel to set the buttons to do something.

I have no experience with configuring the keys, but if you could set one of the F keys to first push the right arrow, then delete, it’d act like the “forward delete” you described.

Assuming you’re using OS 9.0 or later (actually, this might have started with 8.5 or so, but I never did use that version, so I can’t be sure), the function keys can easily be programed to launch programs or open files. Open up the “Keyboard” control panel, and press the “Function Keys…” button. Easy as that.

To progam the function keys to do things such as act as a ‘forward delete’ key, you’d need to use a seperate macro program. I recommend Quickeys, which I’ve been using for years, but it’s rather pricey at about $99. Certainly overkill for what you need it for, but it can be used for much more than just that. There’s also a shareware macro program called Keyquencer which I’m sure could do what you need, but I’ve never used it so I can’t vouch for it myself. You can look for both these programs at VersionTracker.

Guess I should have specified - I using OS 8.5.1, and the Keyboard control panel doesn’t mention the function keys.

Yeah, you need OS-9 for the built in function key stuff. There are a few shareware apps that will let you do stuff with them as well.

I’m delighted by them, because when I use telnet-based library catalogs, for example, that use IBM-style function keys to do ANYTHING, my mac can finally do the necessary thing (“Press F8 to go forward? I don’t HAVE an F8 key. . .”)
Had to disable the F12’s pre-set “autosave” thing, though. Whenever I’d try to delete something and press the wrong key this owuld irritate me.

Looks like I have to upgrade to OS 9. Thanks for the info, guys.

I actually got big bucks (well, not really big) from MacWorld magazine a couple of years ago by submitting a tip that addresses your very question. For the record, I’ll reproduce it at the end of this post. However, I don’t believe Speed Doubler is available any more (I know it doesn’t work on OS 9), so you’d have to find some other utility that allows you to assign typed text to a key.

In any case, there now seems to be a $5 shareware product that does the same thing with a lot less hassle. You can find it at this URL:

Here’s the way I discovered to do it before this utility was available:

<< Do you find yourself missing the end and forward-delete keys on your iMac, blue G3, or older PowerBook keyboard? Here’s how to simulate them, using Chris Cummer’s $5 shareware ASCII Shall Receive in conjunction with any commercial or shareware program that lets you assign typed text to a keystroke or function key, such as Connectix’s $60 Speed Doubler 8 (

Open ASCII Shall Receive, and choose ASCII from the pop-up menu and then List All from the File menu. Scroll to ASCII character 4; this is the character for the end key. Select this line and control-drag it to the desktop to create a clipping file containing just the character.

Open the clipping file and choose Copy from the Edit menu. Open SpeedDoubler 8, select the box that receives the typed text, and choose Paste from the Edit menu. Then specify the keystroke you want to simulate the end key (I used control-page down) and click OK.

Repeat this process for forward-delete by copying ASCII character 127, pasting it into SpeedDoubler 8, and assigning a different keystroke.

I assigned F12 to trigger forward-delete, since it’s right above the delete key, but control-delete would be another good choice. >>

Hey, great - thanks. I’ll give it a try.