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Aside from switching between the playback/system control keys and the regular function keys, in macOS the fn key can be used to access keys not available on the keyboard. For example, if a dedicated ⌦ Delete key there isn't present, then fn+⌫ Backspace result in ⌦ Delete.

My problem is that this behaviour doesn't persist for keyboard shortcuts: when used in conjunction with ⌘ Command or ⌃ Control, fn is ignored. This generates a few inconsistencies.

For example, on my 2017 MacBook Pro ⌘ Command+⌫ Backspace will all previous characters in the current line. Given that fn+⌫ Backspace will delete the next character, I would expect ⌘ Command+fn+⌫ Backspace to delete the remaining portion of the line. However, fn gets ignored and this key combination ends up deleting the previous portion of the line.

How can I have access to the "hidden keys" accessible with fn even when ⌘ Command is pressed?

Edit: formatting

4 Answers 4

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Even with both Backspace ⌫ & Delete ⌦ keys, Cmd ⌘ Delete ⌦ does not clear the line forward of the cursor, even though Cmd ⌘ Backspace ⌫ clears it rearward.

It would appear the inconsistency isn't in the Fn key itself, but in the OS's usage of Cmd ⌘ Delete ⌦ .

Opt ⌥ Delete ⌦ deletes one word forward of the cursor, as does Fn Cmd ⌘ Backspace ⌫ .

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  • I wasn't aware of this. Then the problem is twofold: I still can't use fn to turn Backspace into Delete when the Command key is pressed (i've checked using the keyboard viewer), but even if I did, the keyboard shortcut wouldn't work.
    – Davide
    Mar 10, 2021 at 14:32
  • It works here, according to the keyboard viewer [which I hadn't thought to test before, only the result in a file]
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 10, 2021 at 16:52
  • I'm confused. Do you mean that you are able to delete the remaining portion of the line using Command + Delete or that you managed to use fn+Backspace as Delete even through you're pressing Command?
    – Davide
    Mar 11, 2021 at 17:15
  • Fn/Backspece registers as Del. Forward line delete doesn't work with either method, only the opposite direction, as I said in my answer.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 11, 2021 at 18:51
  • 1
    Ok, understood, then you're right: it's the keyboard shortcut itself that is missing from macOS.
    – Davide
    Mar 13, 2021 at 11:35
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I would argue that there are no 'hidden keys'. Just documented built-in keyboard shortcuts

  • Fn-Delete: Forward delete on keyboards that don't have a Forward Delete key. Or use Control-D.
  • FnUp Arrow: Page Up: Scroll up one page.
  • FnDown Arrow: Page Down: Scroll down one page.
  • FnLeft Arrow: Home: Scroll to the beginning of a document.
  • FnRight Arrow: End: Scroll to the end of a document.
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I think you could use the free software Karabiner to remap the Fn key to a custom modifier. You can then create shortcuts for my_modifier_1+Delete ⌦ etc.

The custom modifier would act as an additional modifier and thus stack with other modifiers.

You would have to manually rebind all the shortcuts that previously existed with Fn.

Here is an example of creating a customer modifier in Karabiner.

[
    {
        "type": "basic",
        "from": {
            "key_code": "fn",
            "modifiers": {
                "mandatory": [],
                "optional": ["any"]
            }
        },
        "to": [
            {
                "set_variable": {
                    "name": "my_modifier_1",
                    "value": 1
                }
            }
        ],
        "to_after_key_up": [
            {
                "set_variable": {
                    "name": "my_modifier_1",
                    "value": 0
                }
            }
        ]
    }
]

I have a magic keyboard with an button. I've remapped it to the Backspace ⌫ using the following Karabiner Simple modification: enter image description here

It now works with all other modifier keys!

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  • 1
    The issue doesn't appear to be a key remap problem, but one of a function that appears to have been omitted from the OS itself.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 8, 2021 at 19:22
  • 1
    Exactly. This I could probably get this to work, it's probably too cumbersome and on a MacBook keyboard there aren't "spare" keys that I would turn into modifier keys. However thanks for introducing me to Karabiner
    – Davide
    Mar 10, 2021 at 14:36
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Some fn key combos not in the documented built-in keyboard shortcuts list:

  • fn+e shows emoji picker
  • fn+a focuses keyboard on the Dock
  • fn+shift+a opens app launcher
  • fn+f switches the current app to full screen mode
  • fn+h shows the desktop
  • fn+c shows the control center
  • fn+n shows notifications (sames as swiping left with two fingers from the right edge of the trackpad)
  • fn+m focuses keyboard in the menu bar

Not 100% sure whether these are defaults, or whether I have some setting (maybe in Accessibility) switched on that enables these shortcuts.

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