I have a set of App-specific keyboard shortcuts I’ve been using in Scriv every day since the dawn of time—F6 is highlight, F7 to F9 case changes, F12 and 13 find previous/next, etc.
But last couple of days they’ve suddenly stopped. If I then check at Keyboard/Keyboard Shortcuts at the System Settings, they’ve all gone! Reset a few of the absolutely essential ones, and a bit later they’ve gone again.
I realise this is a Mac-centric prob (without looking in too much detail it seems like other non-Scriv ones have gone too), but anyone know what might be causing this?
I don’t know how to fix your issue, but you can export/import your shortcuts set to a file in the options panel…
This way you could reimport them whenever it happens. You wouldn’t lose everything each time.
I think they also save with the preference file ; if you ever saved them (your overall preferences), you might currently be able to retrieve your custom shortcuts from there. Careful :
Make sure you save your current preferences before loading old ones, or else you’ll lose that too.
This is certainly an OS level problem. The way custom software-level shortcuts are saved are by putting them into each individual program’s .plist file, where it stores its preferences. There are some implications of that to be aware of, such as if you ever delete the preference file as a troubleshooting step, you lose your shortcuts. Likewise tools that do “clean” uninstalls by wiping related configuration files when moving software to the Trash will also wipe shortcuts.
I’ve never seen shortcuts just get lost without an accompanying loss of all preferences for that software though. So it might be good to check and see if that’s happening as well.
If not, my off the cuff guess would be some level of breakage somewhere in the Mac’s somewhat complicated preference caching system. Unlike in the old days when the .plist file was the final and full authority on settings, these days it’s almost more like a disk-based backup of your actual preferences, which are themselves in an infrastructure that users don’t really have direct control over. I’ve even seen cases where if one deletes the .plist file while the software is closed and launches the program, all of their old settings come back because the .plist isn’t even being checked for by the system. You often have to reboot, log-in, or run a command-line script to cause the preference caching system to restart itself.
In short, you may be in for some Apple troubleshooting if shortcuts are selectively disappearing from .plist files, that’s a very weird bug if that is what is happening. My first hunch though would be to check for third-party “system cleaning” type utilities, and maybe doing a safe boot reboot cycle to flush all of Apple’s caches and have the system rebuild its concept of what is on the disk.
By the way, this and many other reasons are why I’ve largely abandoned using Apple’s keyboard customisation system. For one thing I don’t like how they are tied to the .plist file because deleting that file is such a common troubleshooting step on a Mac. I ultimately went with BetterTouchTool for 100% of my keyboard customisations. The only real downside to using them is that, as a dynamic override happening “above” the software level, they don’t change in menus. The menus always go on showing the default shortcut.
Plus, it’s a great tool anyway, as your shortcuts can do so much more than just firing off one menu command. Better shortcuts are only one small thing of what all it adds to the experience of using a Mac.
I’ve now had a chance to have a go at sorting out this problem, with Amber’s helpful reply in mind.
Unfortunately, I can’t get to the bottom of why my Scriv keyboard shortcuts are disappearing. I don’t have any ‘system cleaning’ apps. I tried various basic troubleshooting things, including the suggested safe boot/reboot cycle. No difference; problem remains.
So I tried BetterTouchTool. Found the UI a bit overwhelming at first, but managed to get my Scriv keyboard shortcuts into it. Works very well—and (so far) it’s entirely stable. The fact that the menus continue to show default shortcuts doesn’t bother me.
BTT can certainly do more than that, and might prove useful for other things, too. I don’t know yet if there’s anything that will suit my workflow, though I must say the idea of multiple commands from one shortcut looks promising. And it’s a very reasonably priced app.
So a good recommendation, Amber, for which thanks.
You’re welcome! Sorry that the original problem couldn’t be resolved, that’s a pretty strange one.
As for using all of BTT, I doubt anyone does, it has a lot going on, and has become a bit of an overall UI tweaking tool. I made it a point to learn one new thing about it at least once a month for a while, because I kept coming across game changers. Like how you can change the green title bar button to go back to being a normal multitasking-friendly maximise button instead of that iPad mode “full screen” thing. I never could stand that feature, and having such a high profile, impossible to remove button co-opted entirely for something I would never in my life use always bothered me. But, now I can change it back. Then there is its built-in clipboard manager, window snapping to keep things tidy, being able to resize/move windows from anywhere instead of just on tiny little edges and corners… it actually even made the Touch Bar a useful piece of hardware, back when I had one of those. Shocking.