The windows I'm talking about are the system administrator password request popups, the wireless network web sign-in popup, and other system request dialogs, such as "Application was downloaded from the Internet" confirmations. Often when these popups appear for me there is no focus on the input/buttons. I need to remove my hands from the keyboard and mouse over to them.

These popups do not appear in the application switcher, and seem to be immune to these focus-grabbing keyboard shortcuts:

  • Command ⌘+`
  • Command ⌘+Tab
  • Control ⌃+F1 through Control ⌃+F12

I have seen one solution that involved turning on OS X's VoiceOver utility with +Option ⌥+F2,F2. I'd prefer not to have this turned on, since in my regular work hours I use ++F-keys in my IDE.

I would post pictures, but my reputation isn't high enough yet.

UPDATE: I do, in fact, already have the option set in System Preferences to allow keyboard navigation in all control windows.

  • VoiceOver doesn't have to be Control-Option-F2; it's Command-F5 by default.
    – Cajunluke
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 5:36

1 Answer 1


If you enable full keyboard access in System Preferences, you can press tab to select the buttons.

I don't know how to focus the windows though. They can't be selected with ⌃F4 or ^F6. I was going to suggest Witch, but it doesn't show them either.

This is a bit of a hack, but you could assign a shortcut to a script like this:

tell application "System Events"
    repeat with p in {"SecurityAgent", "CoreServicesUIAgent", "loginwindow"}
        if exists process p then
            tell process p
                if windows is not {} then
                    set frontmost to true
                    exit repeat
                end if
            end tell
        end if
    end repeat
end tell

Password dialogs are shown by SecurityAgent, Gatekeeper and quarantine dialogs by CoreServicesUIAgent, and the force quit window by loginwindow.

  • 3
    I do, in fact, have this option already checked. The issue occurs if I happen to be switching applications as the popup appears, causing it to lose focus but remain on top of all other windows.
    – mrak
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 17:19
  • Tried your AppleScript as an extension to Alfred (a launcher that can assign global hotkeys). It still refuses to focus networksetup is trying to modify your system configuration dialogs :(
    – mrak
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 16:11
  • It works for me at least after running networksetup -setcomputername a in Terminal.
    – Lri
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 18:07

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