“Home” takes you to the top of the page. “End” takes you to the bottom. They’re easier and faster than scrolling all the way up or down a page. I see people scrolling to the top or the bottom an awful lot.
The more I watch people use computers the more I start to think that “Home” and “End” should be bigger, given new positions on the keyboard, or renamed “Top” and “Bottom”.
These keys are usually stacked in the middle of a six key cluster. They’re small and their function isn’t all that clear. You can just press one to see what happens, but I’ve also noticed people don’t experiment with their keyboards. They use the keys they know and avoid the rest.
None of this is a big deal of course, I just wanted to share it. I’ve been observing it a lot lately so I figured I’d toss it out there for comment.
BJ Vickson 10 May 07
I never used Home/End when I was using a full-sized desktop keyboard, but I make extensive use of CMD-UpArrow and CMD-DownArrow on my MacBook. Great stuff.
Danielon 10 May 07
Well typically they go to the end of a line or the beginning of a line in a text field or document editing program – but these functions are equally useful. One of the best ways to select all the text to the end of or beginning of a line from your cursor. That’s made my text editing and document writing much faster than I expected.
Now if I could only find out what the hell Scroll Lock is for…
Royon 10 May 07
@Daniel: On a PC yes, on a Mac no :) That would be cmd-left / cmd-right.
Jaredon 10 May 07
Good to see someone else uses Home and End too. Although I don’t use them in the normal sense. I have a Logitech MX700 which has two “cruise” buttons above and below the scroll wheel. I have them set to Home and End. I don’t even have to move my hand to the keyboard then.
Ugur Gundogmuson 10 May 07
I think it is a big deal. It is all about usability. These two keys are very useful, but “Home” and “End” don`t explain the function of them properly.
Philip Karpiakon 10 May 07
Home? End? Where do you see… oh, found them :)
Like Jared mentioned, I also have the cruise control buttons on my Logitech mouse bound to Home and End, and with the delete key pretty much covering 2/3 of that part, I hardly notice the Page Up/Page Down keys, let alone Home and End.
Andrewon 10 May 07
Keyboards are something that need innovative thinking. Why does the cAPS lOCK key still exist? What did “Pause/Break” ever do, back in the dark ages of greenscreens?
Haven’t “Ctl” “Cmd” and “Alt” become so important that they could be subtly reshaped for your thumb to find them more easily?
MJRon 10 May 07
Which came first Home/End with the PC functionality (Beginning/End of Current Line) or Mac functionality (Top/Bottom of Page)?
Personally I prefer the PC implementation. I find that I move to the beginning or end of a line FAR more often than the beginning or end of a page. Moving back and forth from my PC to Macbook this is one of the most common things that makes my brain slow up just slightly as I have to remind myself which machine I’m using and what keystroke will produce the action I want at the time.
Greg Macoyon 10 May 07
As a year-old mac-switcher I’ve found the “home” and “end” keys are not quite as good as their PC counterparts, the focus doesn’t change — sure it’s nice to be able “view” the top, or bottom of my Finder screen, but if I’m using Shift to select a whole group of items it’d be ace if I could use the “home” and “end” keys to select to the end of the list (as on a PC).
I’m also looking forward to the day when people are using Macs enough that you don’t immediately get shot down for criticising the OS. Maybe one day there’ll be a Linux OS that’ll blow everything else out of the water…
John Bon 10 May 07
Home & End go, (usually), to the top & bottom of a web page on a PC as well, and I use them for that all the time. Also, don’t forget their neighbours “Page Up” and “Page Down.”
zon 10 May 07
not so sure about making them bigger, but certainly these are extremily useful underused keys.
btw, two-finger scroll doesnt get enough love either.
speaking of gripes, i don’t like that safari wont alt-left (=go back) if cursor’s focus is in a text field. very annoying…
Brianon 10 May 07
One of my biggest pet peeves on the mac was that the home and end keys were completely useless to me. After years of being on a PC I expected them to go to the beginning and end of the current line of text. Thanks to this article from macromates I re-binded the keys to suite my needs.
John S.on 10 May 07
Definitely agree with you but like others prefer the PC implementation. Ctrl-Home/Ctrl-End is the PC equivalent to Mac’s Home/End.
Ctrl-Left/Right and Ctrl-Backspace (try them in IE’s address bar) are probably in my top 10 most frequently used key combos. I’ve always loved using the keyboard over the mouse and knowing every possible Windows key combo. Then one day I accidentally discovered Ctrl-Backspace. I can’t imagine not using it now.
Mike McDermenton 10 May 07
I love home and end…I tend to use them to go across the page more than up and down though…and I put them right up there with CTRL-T for new tabs on firefox, and now CTRL+W to close them.
Noel Hurtleyon 10 May 07
My mother (out of all people) first showed me this trick. Saves a lot of scrolling.
Ericon 10 May 07
I find this idea of keys fascinating. I reccomend you watch a power excel user that has evolved past the mouse. I consider myself and a few co-workers to be like this and its quite amazing. Whenever we watch someone using the mouse with excel its as if we immediatley know their skill level! Its a flash judgement that takes place – but its fairly accurate. I would imagine that other programs are quite similar but it is truly amazing once you evolve beyond the mouse for functionality. I used to hear about people using the command prompt vs. a GUI and never believed it, but it is definitely true.
someoneon 10 May 07
This seems like a special case of a far more profound principle: any time you reach for the mouse in repetitive tasks, you’re being less efficient than you can be.
What would be nice is a system of Emacs/vim-like shortcuts which power users could use so they could browse all around pages without ever having to take their fingers off the home row.
MichaelMon 10 May 07
Why aren’t home and end more used? Because getting there is (more than) half the journey. After reading this post, I knew what I thought I’d leave as a comment, I could have hit End and just jumped to post it, but instead I scrolled to see what else people had said.
Tomekon 10 May 07
I really miss my old PC-laptop that had all those home-end-pgup-pgdown keys in a rightmost column of keys on its keyboard. @BJ Vicks, Thanks mate, didn’t know this shortcut, always used fn+cursor keys.
Alejandro Morenoon 10 May 07
AFAIK, Home/End go to the beginning/end of a line whenever the focus is on editable text, and to the top/bottom of a scrollable window when not editable.
In something like Word, the top/bottom functionality is mapped to Ctrl-Home/End.
And it is impressive how some people get by without ever using those two keys or any of Delete, Page Up, Page Down and Tab.
mattlon 10 May 07
C-a and C-e are what I’m still using.
Andrewon 10 May 07
Agree, these are keys I use a lot when browsing. I remember when it seemed as though every other web page had “Go to top of page” buttons all over it. I thought at the time that the “top of page” function should be in the browser, rather than cluttering up the page.
matthew knighton 10 May 07
strangely enough, i just blogged about a similar thing – i hate using the mouse as a general rule – my fingers are on the keyboard, so why should i have to move all the way over to the mouse? home and end keys i use all the time, and switching keyboards often slows me down a good percentage, as muscle memory plays a big part in how fast i can type. i’ve just switched to a mac, and finding out all of the keyboard shortcuts once more is like a whole new voyage of discovery!
Mark Beattieon 10 May 07
Yeah, probably because even Mac lovers like myself spent a decade or two using 101 key PC keyboards with page up and page down buttons.
On my MacBook pro keyboard the up/down arrows scroll the page, but when combined with the apple key they jump to the top/bottom of the page. Feels intuitive to me.
Daniel Øhrgaardon 10 May 07
Whether they’re called “Home” and “End” or “Top” and “Bottom” they always beg the question “of what?”
You use arrow-keys in combination with an active cursor, you use Escape and Enter/Return on the active dialog-box, “Page up”/”Page down” convey exactly what they’re meant to manipulate (the page) etc. etc.
But you’re average website has many interactive elements, plus the browser chrome, so it can be confusing finding out what Home and End does. The page in its entirety usually isn’t manipulated directly.
Anyway, that’s my two cents on the topic of why the keys aren’t used
Kennyon 10 May 07
C-a, C-e almost always work on windows/linux/mac apps consistently to be beginning and end of line.
Chris Lloydon 10 May 07
MacBook keyboards have shoved home and end as command modifyers on the arrow keys (which sorta makes sense, but I’d like a dedicated key).
Rather than “top” and “bottom” I’d prefer “start” and “end” because you can also use the buttons to move the caret to the “start” and “end” of the line. “Top” only induced horizontal motion.
(I like the new Basecamp changes, btw!)
Jameson 10 May 07
When I first started using Excel and Word seriously, I printed off the keyboard shortcuts and studk them around my desk. Any time I wanted to do anything new, I checked to see if there was a shortcut. Within a few weeks, I barely touched the mouse, and it was really surprising how much faster I could perform even the most simple of tasks.
And for those who find home and end send them to the beginning and end of a line, press ctrl with them and you’ll go to the beginning and end of a document.
Nathan Joneson 11 May 07
I like the idea of Top and Bottom keys… Then make the Home (or Start) and End keys on my Mac go to the start and end of the line.
Visually, they could be implemented like buttons on a CD player:
Right arrow: ->
End of line: ->|
Ellioton 11 May 07
To be honest, a bigger peeve is the inconsistency of the keys on the mac.
At least on Windows, you know where Home/End, Page Up/Down will do for you.
On my trusty MacBook I never know how each program will handle them differently. I recently played with an Eclipse install which on End, skipped to the end of the line, but on Home threw me back up to the top of the documents.
That, my friends, sucks.
random8ron 11 May 07
This is part o the reason macs are yummy.
Apple left and Apple right go to beg and end of line, option-leftand option-right go between words, apple-up and apple-bottom go to the top and bottom of the page, holding shift while doing any of these will select from the insertion point to the point of destination. Holding CONTROL and pressing up and down goes up and down by a screenful (lovely).
Pressing “up” or “down” by itself on a single line entry field goes to the beginning or end of the line.
Thus, if I have a url:
and I wanna get to http://www.blah.com/yeah
then I can select my address bar, press “down”, hold shift and option, press “left” (to select the word “blah”), type “yeah” and press enter to load the page. FAST! on a windows PC I just groan.
Knowing all this, one can navigate so much more easily than on a PC.
Sammyon 11 May 07
The one thing I absolutely hate about my home keyboard: the five-key cluster with Home, End, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down.
Why? Because it’s arranged in 3 rows, 2 columns (the Delete key is double-height). And because the End key is located above the Page Up key. That means that when touch typing, it is very easy to try to go up one page, and wind up completely at the bottom. Stupid.
Ryanon 11 May 07
As a programmer, I use home/end constantly to select/highlight lines of code. While I do use home/end to get to the top and bottom of pages, I think home/end is appropriately named. I can justify “home” being the top and “end” being the bottom, but I can’t justify “top” being the end, and “bottom” being the home (when dealing with individual lines, which is what I use a lot more frequent than top/bottom style).
They definitely could be bigger or moved to a new location, though. I’m always hitting “insert” instead of home, which is annoying.
It would be cool to use the arrows in some sort of convenient way to do those operations.
Ericon 11 May 07
“Home & End go, (usually), to the top & bottom of a web page on a PC as well, and I use them for that all the time.”
Except, of course, when site designers put absurd amounts of whitespace at the bottom, which requires you to page up one or twice after doing so. :P
Michael Chuion 11 May 07
Make it so I have a reason to want to go to the bottom of one and I’ll use End. I don’t have a reason to. Almost no webpage content is based on the bottom of the screen.
I use Home a bunch. I only use End outside of the browser. Unless I’m typing in a text-box, which hardly counts.
Balaji Raghavanon 11 May 07
I get brain damaged watching people using their keyboard, ineffectively. Surely Home/End makes sense in some application and the browsers can have it as Top/Bottom as suggested. But that means the browser should automagically be able to show what it wants to show.
Why the innovation in keyboard has stopped with 106 keys. I personally think it should be a large piece of pixelised touch screen. Think of the possibilities, applications create their own key boards, users customise them. Much easier for me to send an email to my mom if the keyboard can show letters from my native language Tamil. On a read only web-page, my keyboard only shows clever navigation and no text inputs.
Me suffering from RSI I need specific requirements too, some days I really prefer the arrow keys should be split into 2 sides. To make better use of the hands equally, I would just drag and drop it on the other end of the keyboard with my finger.
Is that too much to ask when people these days mostly use keyboard often than a pen?
Alexandraon 11 May 07
I always use “Home” and “End” (or ctrl+home or +end where appropriate). Useful in so many contexts. Most people tend to go about things the long way, anyhow.
For example: a lot of my coworkers, to do something in MS Office, always go to the menu bar, even though I know it’s also in the shortcut menu when you right-click. Not sure how I first discovered the right-click menu, but I’m surprised more people haven’t.
I think Home, End, and Page Down/Page Up, would probably be better grouped with the arrow keys, and have a separate grouping for Insert and Delete.
Tomon 11 May 07
In that example, it’d be cleaner/faster just to option-Delete and type your word.
Oh and is anyone else confused when they see the symbols for shift, control, and option all together when specifying a shortcut? I’ve come really close to taking a Sharpie to my powerbook to fix this problem of mine…
Alexanderon 11 May 07
That is what the berak / pause key is / was for. ;)
Dan Bolandon 11 May 07
I think they’re underused for two reasons: their names and their location. Personally, I think if everyone just got the hang of basic key commands (particularly Cmd-Tab), productivity would increase big time.
Meganon 11 May 07
I notice things like this happening all the time with software too (people not experimenting). People just do what they know and don’t experiment with other features.
I think when training staff, the trainers should be teaching people how to learn to use software rather than focussing on specific applications. There are so many people I’ve worked with who can’t learn to use a piece of software on their own, they have to have training. And if they don’t know how to do something they have to ask someone. Although, there are a lot of useful keyboard shortcuts that you’d never know about if someone didn’t tell you.
Adamon 11 May 07
I prefer the keys where they are – They are soul mates with the number pad when doing data entry.
RJon 11 May 07
This is by far the least insightful thing you’ve posted on this blog to date. I appreciate all of the great things you guys have to say about usability, but at times I feel you’re just posting to keep up the appearance of having something new to say, because if you didn’t we’d all lose interest and go away.
Vikeon 11 May 07
i use mice with two additional buttons on left side. i mapped these buttons as Home and End. I find it very useful.
Nathanielon 11 May 07
I love Home and End. I probably use them more than page up and page down.
RJon 11 May 07
What – I don’t think it’s a good comment, and all of a sudden I’m a troll? I mean, I wasn’t trying to say this site is all about boosting your egos over there, but giving me the dunce cap sure seems to imply it. I guess maybe THIS is trolling, but it wasn’t before. Come on.
jfnoon 11 May 07
I love home and end. Especially at the command line. They are not just too small, some portable keyboard makes them function combo (fn+pg_up, fn+pg_dn). And my new lenovo v100 is one of them :-(
RJon 11 May 07
I love home and end. They’re the best keys on the keyboard. They should be bigger.
dapeteon 11 May 07
Yea for Home and End! I use them so much that I map them to my mouse’s forward and back buttons. I use mouse gestures, so I don’t need buttons to go forward and back.
dusofton 11 May 07
And you even forget the thing with DELETE key. Lot of people forget to use it (or don’t know about it) and use “cursor right” and “backspace” to delete a character instead of one press of “delete”...
Nickon 12 May 07
One thing that also doesn’t get used enough is ALTing through words. ALT-Arrow gets you from one side of a typed word to another while ALT-Delete deletes the whole previous word you wrote.
It’s almost automatic for me when deleting bits of text to hold down ALT and just off whole words at a time. Also, I think this might be CTRL in Windows, but I don’t do much typing on my Windows box, unless repeatedly jamming W-S-A-D counts.
BTW – I love that RJ remembered to bring the drama llama, and that he was reverse-trolled for it.
Lidson 12 May 07
Yep I use home and end…but not enough…they’re always my 2nd thought…maybe they need to be in a bright colour!
steveon 12 May 07
strange. on a windows PC I just select my address bar, press end, hold shift but not also option, press ctrl+left (to select the word “blah”), type “yeah” and press enter to load the page.
ie. just as fast, except I only press shift+left, instead of shift+option+left.
still, if it helps reinforce your cute mac superiority complex, by all means carry on believing this is unpossible on a pc.
steveon 12 May 07
my bad. i press shift+ctrl+left, so no difference at all.
anyway. point remains:
Should be rephrased as “knowing all this on a Mac but not bothering to discover the exact equivalents on a PC, obviously one can navigate so much more easily”
Erikon 13 May 07
My favorite feature is the close proximity of Home and End to “Help” and “Insert” on my keyboard. Nothing makes me happier than having a new window open when I want to go home—except unintentionally enabling the ability to overwrite text.
@Andrew: CAPS LOCK IS USEFUL FOR TROLLS AND OTHER ANGRY FOLKS!
Tamlyn Rhodeson 14 May 07
Re the naming of home and end: In French there is no word for ‘home’ so the home key gets a diagonal arrow from bottom right to top left. End is just called ‘Fin’.
dnmon 14 May 07
“Should be rephrased as “knowing all this on a Mac but not bothering to discover the exact equivalents on a PC, obviously one can navigate so much more easily””
Nah pc doesn’t come close to keyboard navigation on a mac
ctrl + left/right – Next word/start or end of word/case change within word option + left/right – next word/start or end of word cmd + left/right – start/end of line
Windows only does next start of word or start/end of line, compared to those
tableton 14 May 07
If they put them on the mouse they would more useful. People dont like having to switch to the keyboard and back.
dnmon 15 May 07
You should have a hand on the keyboard at most times anyway.
Dan Hon 15 May 07
(I love those troll icons.) I’m of the school that thinks home/end should be left-most-char and right-most-char on the line. Page Up and Page Down do a fine job scrolling at the keyboard, and you can hold them down for a second to get to the bottom of a page. In BBEdit & TextWrangler, I’ve turned on the option to make Home/End do line positions instead of top/bottom of page and find it really handy in coding. It does train me in weird ways so that in other apps I wind up hitting home/end instead of cmd+left/right in text boxes.
dnmon 16 May 07
They are related to navigation They share the same formation as page up/down They are right next to page up/down
Why does that make any sense for them to move to the start/end of line?
Surely the only sensible behaviour is top/bottom of document
Just because Windows clearly chose the wrong behaviour and your used to it doesn’t make it right.
ciaraon 17 May 07
Hey, my very(!) old toshiba laptop has great page back and forward keys set in with the arrows – really handy. I also use my mouse scroll with SHIFT to go back and forward between pages and with CTRL to go increase/decrease text size. I guess you all know this anyway but just in case…
This discussion is closed.