Sunday, October 12, 2008

Using FrontRow for visually impaired OS X users

Front Row is designed for remote control at a distance. So the UI is pretty good for someone with poor vision, and it's much simpler than iTunes.

On the other hand, the remote is only intuitive to computer geeks. It's also difficult for someone with motor problems to use; the menu button, for example, is flush.

You can improve the menu button by putting fuzzy side velcro tape on it, but an alternative is to use the undocumented Front Row Key commands.

Undocumented, save for a generous blogger who compiled a list. See his site for the full list, here's my annotated version of an excerpt of it. Note that I used Keyboard Preferences to change the activation/quit key to F13. Unfortunately the F13 key doesn't behave exactly like the Menu button -- it starts and quits rather than moves in and out of menus. - Front Row Key Commands


Enter Front Row F13
Quit Front Row F13 (actually any key not used by FR will exit)

Menu actions

Up Up-arrow
Down Down-arrow
Select Space
Previous menu Escape

Playback controls

Play/Pause Space
Rewind Left-arrow
Fast-forward Right-arrow
Previous track Command + Left-arrow
Next track Command + Right-arrow


Volume Up Command + Up-arrow
Volume Down Command + Down-arrow
Depending on your context sometimes the arrow keys also navigate menus and control volume.

I'm experimenting to figure out the right balance of use of a modified remote and the keyboard. I think the remove may win overall, but using the arrow and enter keys might be useful. You can use the kb volume keys to change volume.

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