Keyboard shortcuts for browsing?

So as I increase my use of DevonThink in my everyday life, I find one of the things I do regularly is scan through a folder of documents/entries.

I would like to be able to do something like what you can do in Entourage and other programs where you use the arrow keys to move up and down in the document/entry listing – so your focus is there and not on the document viewing pane – and then use the space bar to move through a document. I’ve tried PageUp and PageDown, but they do nothing, too.

This seems crucial to me: DT is very much about effective use of my time, and my hands not leaving the keyboard is one dimension of efficiency for me. I think Mail has this functionality – it does; I just checked – so this should be in the Cocoa code base? (I’m no programmer, so such an assertion is, in fact, more of a hope that this can be done easily.)

If this functionality is already there, and I missed it, please someone point out my idiocy. I’ve read the help and gone back through the tutorial database.

I second that request

Try Option-Tab.

Right on, oz-nom. Option-Tab shifts the focus back and forth between the Names column and the document pane.

laudunum, the Space bar will insert spaces in editable text documents, so you don’t want to use that as a primary navigation aid.

If you have a desktop Mac, Page Up, Page Down, Home and End should work.

If you have a notebook, Page Up and so forth are available by holding down the “fn” key while pressing the appropriate arrow key.

And in recent PowerBooks and the MacBook Pro two-fingered trackpad scrolling works well.

Page up and down work on my iBook using both laptop and external keyboards. Also option-tab will switch back and forth between source pane and document. Within the document I can use the up/down arrows, page up and down, home, end keys to navgate through it.

Sometimes it’s hard to find things in the tutorial and help files, especially something kind of basic. I’ve learned much from these forums, so it’s really good to ask such questions—good for us all!


oz-mon and Bill:

Yes, I already use OPT+Tab to move between panes, but please note that I am not asking to move between panes. Far from it, I want to stay in the file structure pane and be able to scroll quickly through highlighted documents.

What you and alexwein are suggesting is a work flow that means:

(1) Scroll to document

(2) Option-Tab to move focus to document pane

(3) PageUp and PageDown to scan document (and as a PB user, this is a pain because of the whole fn key).

(4) Option-Tab back to the hierarchy pane to continue browsing.

What I am suggesting, and which is in line with other Mac apps, is that while the focus remains in the hierarchy pane that one be able to use the SpaceBar and Shift+SpaceBar to scroll through the documents that appear in the document pane as their title is highlighted in the hierarchy key.

Use of the SpaceBar should not affect a file’s name, since one has to use RETURN to invoke the editing feature, much as one does in the Finder.

I’m sorry if the fact that I really do understand how things work wasn’t clear in my initial post.


As we don’t live that far apart, perhaps we should meet for lunch or whatever. Maybe at Pat’s? Or Hymel’s?

I’m curious to learn what you do with all those milliseconds you save. :slight_smile:

[size=150]As a disabled user, driving a gui fully by keyboard is important. Yes, I bet with some scripting and perhaps with iKey I can, but really it should be native to the app. Please tweak this for the rumored 112 release. :slight_smile: Thank you.[/size]

Actually, Bill, I’m going to be in BR next week – my mother is having some surgery at Lake and so my wife and I are headed over to tend to her. I was going to suggest lunch or coffee myself, but I also know you’re a busy man. Tuesday or Wednesday would work for me. We can exchange phone numbers by e-mail. I forget what e-mail is on my profile, but the one I use, especially now that summer, is here is jlaudun at mac dot com.

Sorry if my response was a wee bit grumpy. I was frustrated with myself for not having communicated very well – though it didn’t come across that way. Sorry, everyone. My bad.

Note that navigation either in the Name pane or the document pane is already fully keyboard-enabled.

When one is working with text documents, approximating ‘mirrors’ of keyboard commands while moving back and forth between the panes is probably a good idea.

Whereas enabling the Space bar as a navigational device in one pane while it continues to serve as an insertion key in the other pane doesn’t seem like good UI to me, as it is likely to result in more user errors by inadvertent insertion of spaces into a document – all the more likely when the user is rapidly moving back and forth between the two panes.

The Mac UI is often context-sensitive rather than rigidly consistent. For example the Space bar serves as a navigational command while one is viewing an HTML document but as an editing command while one is viewing a text document.

Personally, because I work with both text and HTML documents, I try to avoid using the Space bar for navigation while viewing HTML documents, as that leads to using it habitually. The next document is likely to be a text document. Hitting the Space bar will result in insertion of an unintended space character.

To tease laudunum: Saving a few milliseconds by reinforcing the habit of using the Space bar for navigation in the left column will result in the loss of seconds if the Space bar is triggered by habit in a text document in the right pane. First, the dawning recognition that something went wrong. The text didn’t scroll. Next, correcting the error, perhaps having to go back and look for the errant space character after correctly triggering a page scroll.