Switching between tabs in Mac OS X

The reason I use Mac OS X is because it is several levels of magnitude less frustrating than using Windows. I could take or leave Aqua (actually, thanks to ShapeShifter, I’ve pretty much left it), and I don’t frequent sketchy sites so viruses probably wouldn’t be that big a deal for me. I just find Mac OS X much easier to understand and use. I think a large part of this is because Apple decided that “competition” means making a better product with the user in mind instead of pulling illicit corporate shenanigans and bullying everyone else out of the market. The main reason I think Mac OS X is a better product is because of the user interface, which is highly standardized across the many diverse programs that run on Mac OS X. I can download a Cocoa program from a new developer and be pretty much certain that the keyboard shortcuts I’m used to will just work (among other things). It makes picking up new software extremely easy.

Unless I want to switch between tabs, that is. If I want to switch between tabs, then I have to think carefully about which program I’m using, try one shortcut, curse when it does something unexpected, and then use the actual shortcut. Just take a gander at the variation across some of my favorite programs:

OmniWeb: cmd-↑ and cmd-↓ (command + up arrow / down arrow)
CSSEdit: cmd-{ and cmd-} (command + shift + left bracket / right bracket)
Transmit: cmd-shift-← and cmd-shift-→ (command + shift + left arrow / right arrow)
TextMate: cmd-opt-← and cmd-opt-→ (command + option + left arrow / right arrow)

And then there’s Adium, which lets you choose. Two of the options are shared with a program above; two are not. Thanks to my youthful foolishness, the shortcut I got used to in Adium was not shared: cmd-[ and cmd-] (command + right bracket / left bracket).

So here I am with five different programs, each with a different shortcut for switching between tabs. And I’m left with a single question:

What the fuck?

6 responses to “Switching between tabs in Mac OS X”

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  1. Nimit says:

    wow — I couldn’t agree more. This is really frustrating. I was just searching around trying to find if there was some solution to this, because I just switched to Mac. Glad someone else shares my feelings about this. Being able to use Ctrl+Tab everywhere was awesome.

  2. Zach says:

    Took the words out of my mouth.

  3. sobi3ch says:

    hmm… it seems it’s kind of deeeeeep apple philosophy about switching tabs ;)

  4. sobi3ch says:

    and I realise with Firfeox u can use: ctrl+tab (back: ctlr+shift+tab) or alt+cmd+left/right arrorw; For Safari shift+cmd left/right arrow :) this is it!

  5. Ian Beck says:

    Firefox actually supports a whole slew of shortcuts. I think the developers must have tried to research what shortcut to use for switching tabs and realized that there was no one answer, so they instead implemented all of them they could think of.

    My favorite thing about Firefox, though, is that since there are a half dozen shortcuts to switch tabs, they don’t advertise any of the shortcuts in the interface. Way to go, people.

    For recent switchers to Mac, my experience is that command-shift-[ and command-shift-] (usually represented as command-{ and command-} in the menus) are more common shortcuts than most because they’re the Safari default. No guarantees, though.

  6. Pavlos says:

    I can not agree more …

    I am using the witch.app to be able to
    switch between windows with the
    “control + tab” keys and
    “control + shift + tab” to shift backwards.

    I am looking for a way to make command + tab
    shift between tabs inside a application (chrome, firefox, terminal, phpstorm etc… )
    PS: shifted from PC 2 years ago and still can’t get used to mac’s way of tab and windows switching….

    Pavlos

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