Forward delete is an oxymoron…

Mac Forward Delete

Mac 101: Forward delete on a Mac laptop

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As part of my job, I come across dozens of Windows users every day. They have used Windows all their life and have little or know knowledge of the Mac.

These are, to coin a few phrases, the other 95%, the drones, the job security for hundred’s and thousands of IT Managers up and down the USofA.

Occasionally this ‘majority’ have to sit down and use a Mac for a period of time and it’s here where their ‘muscle memory’ of using the upside-down and back-to-front version of the Mac (i.e. Windows), comes into the realm of the way it was done first, and done correctly – the Mac.

One way in which this surfaces is the forward-delete key. This was first brought to my attention when a bemused PC user, typing a document, said, “where’s the delete key on this keyboard?’

My first reaction was that they couldn’t be blamed for not knowing. There’s nowhere on a mac keyboard that says ‘delete’. It’s the key with the left facing arrow, as a Mac user, I just know this through years of use.

However the PC-user, upon testing this said, “No, that’s the backspace key.”

“No it isn’t”, I remarked, “the backspace key on a Mac is the left arrow key, along with the up, down and right keys”.

Not understanding what ‘backspace’ meant, I then learned about ‘forward-delete’ from this PC-user. It’s always been on a Mac keyboard, but I’ve never used it, because it doesn’t make any sense to me. And neither does ‘backspace’.

To me, the word ‘backspace’ does not mean a destructive action. Backspace means, ‘to move back a space’, i.e. the left arrow key.

‘Delete’ means to delete something you have just done. i.e. You type a word, it is wrong, and you, going backwards using the delete key, delete that word. Where does the term, ‘forward’ make any sense in this?

You don’t place your insertion point at the beginning of the word and then when you press the delete key, expect it to move forward along the word, deleting it.

That’s counter-intuitive isn’t it?

I suppose this all comes down to what you’re used to, but ‘forward-delete’ to me doesn’t make any sense to me as a concept.

However as the ‘majority’ use it, I must be wrong, right?

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