Fkey manager review
Author: Rick Socia
Date: September, 1987
Keywords: software review utility program
Text: It is not often a really good utility program comes along that is a must for everyone- a program so good that it will set a standard in the community of Macintosh owners. One has, and it is called FKey Manager. First, to understand fully what FKey Manager does, let us look at what an FKey is. An FKey is installed as a System resource (called FKEY), and the term stands for "Function Key," mimicking the function keys F1, F2, etc. on other types of computers. This FKEY resource is invoked (used) when you press Command-Shift-<number key>. The System file is searched for an FKEY resource associated with the number pressed. The standard System file has four that you are familiar with already: the numbers 1 through 4 for ejecting disks, saving a snapshot of the screen, or printing the active window. But did you know you can add more? Yes, you can have a total of 10 or more (keys 0 thru 9, plus an added feature of FKey Manager allows you to access more). Of course someone has to write and FKey to install (unless you feel adventurous and want to write you own). But when you get one, just install it like a desk accessory or a font. An FKey differs from a DA in that when an FKey is invoked, it has the Mac all to itself until it finishes whatever function it was programmed to do. DA's don't have to keep the Mac to themselves but can share the Mac with the application running. Now in the past, one had to use that mystical monster Resedit in order to configure the FKeys-not really hard to use, but most are afraid to try for fear of goofing something up. You would open the file with the FKey(s) in it, copy them from the file and paste them into the System file. Then by closing all open files normally, one only had to reboot the Mac and, presto-change-o, new and/or changed FKeys appear. Dreams of the Phoenix introduced a utility to load, save and delete FKeys, but theirs cost about $40 and really wasn't that good and versatile. Enter FKey Manager. Here is a program that is as simple to use as Font/DA Mover. In fact if you can operate Font/DA Mover, you can operate this with ease (see Fig. #1). When you open the FKey Manager application, it opens the System file on the same disk, displaying on one side what FKey(s) it finds (same idea as Font/DA Mover). You simply open the file with the desired FKey(s) in it, and you can then copy, remove, rename, or renumber FKey(s) to your hears content, either in the System file or an FKey file. It is that simple. And unlike ResEdit, these changes are immediate upon termination of FKey Manager. (Rebooting is not necessary.) Note that FKey Manager can read both its own FKey files as well as those by Dreams of the Phoenix. Now the extras. With FKey Manager, you can have your keypad serve as your FKey executor (see Fig. #2). It is possible to invoke FKeys with a single keystroke on the keypad, that is to say, hitting just the "3" key on the keypad is the same as hitting Command-Shift-2 on the keyboard. And what is more, you can turn off this feature by hitting Command-Shift-Option-Clear (on the keypad), and back on with Command-Shift-Option-"plus" (on the keypad). So with the feature off, the keypad will behave normally. And if that is not enough extras, try this one: You can get a menu of FKeys to pop-up on the desk top in one of three ways (see Fig. #3). First, select a spot on the desktop as your "magic square," so that when the cursor is in that square, a menu appears of all the FKeys. You then invoke the FKey just like any other menu selection. Second, you can click in that square to make the menu appear. Third, we have the "power" method: You can specify some combination of Caps-Lock, Shift, Command, Option , and a mouse click to bring the menu up. This third method is exclusive of the first two; that is, you can have it active along with either of the first two. I prefer this third method because the other two tend to come up at times and at places where I don't want them to. I said earlier that you can have more than 10 FKeys in your System, but you might have noticed there are only 10 numerals on the keyboard. The other FKeys are invoked via the Pop-Keys menu discussed above. The menu displays not only FKeys 0-9, but also 10 and up. Simply put the mouse on the selected menu item and release the mouse button. Something you need to know: In order to have the keypad or pop-up menu feature available to you, you must first put the file(s) "Pop-Keys" and "KeyPad" in the same folder as the System. They are INIT files-files that get special attention by the System during a boot. All they have to do to be used is be there. If you want those features disabled, move these files out of the System's folder and reboot. If you are using 400K (MFS) disks still, then move them to another disk. Also, as with all modification you do to software, including your System file, do it on a copy, please. If the copy, after alteration, performs as expected, then just put it on the desired disk. Always archive the original System someplace else in case some hidden "undocumented features" should raise their ugly heads. This program is not without a gotcha here or there, but expect some improved versions in the future, as with the evolution of Font/DA Mover. Much credit needs to be given to Carlos Weber for writing this great tool. And to top it off, this program is FREE!. It is not in the public domain but is copyrighted. However, a little contribution won't the author. The documentations is fair, but understandable. Use it, and enjoy it.
Copyright © september, 1987 by Rick Socia