Create keyboard shortcuts for dialog boxes

Is there an easy way to direct the mouse pointer to specific input fields in a dialog box? I'm using a Mac, and want to simulate the keyboard shortcuts from Windows, at least in some cases. For example, in the Paragraph dialog, I want to press a key sequence to highlight the value in the Spacing Before text field.

I just upgraded Word, and found that some of my shortcuts didn't work – I set them up using X,Y coordinates because I didn't know how to do it right. The dialog boxes have different layouts, so these hacks don't work anymore. I didn't see anything here that addresses this issue.


-- hs

If you’re speaking about Word, Word is not a typical macOS app; it behaves “differently”.

In regular macOS apps (or the Finder) you can already do many things via keys, out of the box:

  • tabbing to go to the next button/field (depends on your settings in System Preferences > Shortcuts (see screenshot below)
  • The highlighted button is always accessible with the Return key
  • The “framed” button (thin, highlighted border) is accessible with the Space key


So, first try if this works in Word, if not, maybe there are some settings in Word’s prefs?

If not, it can (almost) always be scripted/macroed.

Are you talking about dialogs in MS Word?
If so, it would be most helpful if you could state this in your title and topic.

One thing I took from Windows to the Mac was the use of the keyboard to control the UI, including the things you mentioned. But I also want direct access to fields in a dialog. In Windows, the Spacing Before field in the Paragraph dialog might have the "e" in "Before" underlined, so you could type ALT+E to get right to it. I want to recreate that. I can use X,Y coordinates, but that changes when the software is updated.

Keyboard Maestro can address menu items by name, so I'm wondering if I can address dialog box fields by name, too.

Via AppleScript you can access most GUI elements. Search the forum for “GUI scripting” or “Accessibilty scripting”.

But this will be cumbersome if you plan to do it for each and every GUI element.

Have you tried the app “Shortcat”? I think it could be what you are looking for.