How To: Reclaim your function keys with FunctionFlip
Those handy little keyboard shortcuts for things like display brightness and iTunes playback which Apple has placed all along the top row of Function Keys on your laptop keyboard can be a real time saver, but they can also suck up the place when you just want to quick access to what a Function Key was supposed to do. Whether you’re a hard-core gamer (well, medium-core gamer, if you’re on a Mac) using Word macros, or have a bunch of saved Actions in Photoshop assigned to your function keys, sometimes it gets annoying to have to hold down the “fn” button while selecting your Function Key shortcuts to avoid accidentally adjusting the volume or having Exposé suddenly fly up when all you wanted to do was execute a simple saved image resize command or something.
Well, I just came across a great little (FREE) System Preference pane called FunctionFlip which allows you to reverse the way those function keys behave. For example, suppose you never use your “F5 and F6” function keys (Illumination Down and Up, respectively). Wouldn’t it be great to assign those useless keys to serve a greater purpose? Well, now you can.
Simply check the tick box next to the function key you’d like to deactivate, and suddenly instead of having to hold down the “fn” button to have F5 do what you want, now you will need to hold do “fn” only if you want to have F5 perform its default “Illumination Down” action. Basically, as the name implies, it “flips” the behavior of the function keys. And what’s even cooler is if you use more than one keyboard on your Mac, you can flip different keys on each keyboard.
If you’re not using an application like Photoshop that allows you to record/assign your own keyboard actions, you can use a utility like Quicksilver or Keyboard Maestro to assign system-wide tasks. FunctionFlip is freeware, and while the developer Kevin Gessner would appreciate a donation, you can screw him if you’re a cheap bastard.