October 21, 2005

Remapping Key Combos for X-Tunes

It took me the entire morning to figure this out. I had started a post about it, but after I couldn’t duplicate the process I was convinced I had lost my mind, and I quit writing. However, I just replicated the problem on my PowerBook and fixed it to a rolicking success.

Both X-Tunes and Quicksilver need to be mapped to keyboard shortcuts to be of any use at all. I find Quicksilver to be handiest when mapped to “command + spacebar”, which is unfortunately the same key combo that X-Tunes uses by default. As fate would have it, “command + spacebar” is also the default shortcut for summoning Spotlight, but that is easily disabled under Spotlight Preferences.

I wanted to keep Quicksilver right where it was and remap X-Tunes to something else (say, “option + spacebar” would be nice), but something is really wonky in X-Tunes Preferences country. Every time I would get set up to enter my new hotkeys on the X-Tunes preference pane, the focus would shift to the Spotlight input field in the upper right corner of the window. Everything I typed would be ignored by X-Tunes and captured by Spotlight. At its best it was terribly annoying, but at its worst Spotlight would start searching within System Preferences, and bail out of the X-Tunes preference pane entirely.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep the focus off that darned input field. Now, no fault to the creator of X-Tunes, who kindly offers this little app free of charge. Indeed, X-Tunes was last updated two years ago, far before Spotlight even existed, so the great difficulties I’m experiencing certainly couldn’t have been anticipated. By pure chance, I was mashing buttons and pitching a fit about this, and eventually I ended up in the Mouse & Keyboard pane. Lo and behold, I had inadvertantly stumbled on the solution.

Here’s how you do it. And here’s why I thought I had gone crazy.

1. Go to the Mouse & Keyboard pane under System Preferences, and hit Keyboard Shortcuts.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the list. Make sure the Spotlight shortcuts are unchecked (or remapped) to keep them from colliding with Quicksilver, X-Tunes and the whole mess.

3. Locate the Input Menu shortcuts and uncheck them. They are typically located right above the Dictionary shortcuts.

4. Go back to the X-Tunes preference pane and click the button to change the key combos. Hit your desired keys. They should work, by golly.

Now, here’s the kicker, and why I thought I had gone mad earlier today. If you go back to Keyboard Shortcuts, the Input Menu shortcuts have completely disappeared. They’re not ghosted out or anything, they are just plain gone. Certainly I’m baffled, but I can’t say that I miss them too much.