Why Doesn’t Tab Work for Drop-down Controls in Firefox on OS X?

By Lowell Heddings on September 21st, 2007

If you are a recent Mac adopter and are frustrated by the weird tab behavior in OS X, you aren’t alone. By default the Tab key only works for text boxes and lists, but excludes select controls (drop-down menus) on a form when using Firefox.

This is very annoying when you are expecting Firefox to behave the same on OS X as it does on Windows. Thankfully Apple made this into a very easy system preference.

Open up the System Preferences tool and then select Keyboard & Mouse, and then Keyboard Shortcuts.

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You’ll see the section at the bottom that says “Full keyboard access”. Here’s where you can change the setting to “All controls” instead of the default.

Note that this will enable tabbing to more than just drop-down controls, so you can now tab to links on a page if you so choose.

Keyboard Method (bonus points)

  • Just use Ctrl+F7 to toggle this setting whenever you need to tab to a drop-down box. No need to open the preferences at all.

This little setting should make your switching experience much more friendly.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/21/07
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