Apple computers are beautiful, Apple computers are the pinnacle of usability, I grant all of that. But here’s something that for the life of me I cannot figure out. Why don’t the menu symbols for modifier keys (control, alt, shift) appear on the keyboards?
Like any modern operating system, OS X menu items have keyboard short cuts, and because there are so many menu items, they occasionally need modifiers other than the command key. Here’s a menu from Safari:
The command symbol we all understand because it appears on the keyboard, but what are those other two modifiers? Why not print them on the keys?
The thingy next to “Show All Bookmarks” is for option, which is labelled on the keyboard with “option” and, alternately, “alt”, but doesn’t have the symbol. The big up-arrow next to “Add Bookmark Folder” is not the up-arrow on the keyboard, but the shift key, which is labelled only with “shift”.
And God forbid you should have to ever Force Quit an application. Is that a Quicktime symbol?:
I must not be the only one who is confused, because Dan Rodney started off his thorough Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts page with a translation chart:
Why no symbols on modifier keys? Or, why is the command key special? Why is it labelled with its symbol while the others are not. This seems like a really basic usability rule: refer to the same thing the same way in different contexts. Is there some logic to this, or is it just that the minimalist hardware design gurus win out over the operating system usability guys?