Tab key is funny in Screen Sharing

Since my last post, I’ve been playing more with Leopard’s new Screen Sharing application, and I’ve found a idiosyncrasy (i.e., bug) when using it. If you press the Tab key on your keyboard, the application switcher appears on the remote screen. Not Command-Tab, just Tab. Command-Tab brings up the application switcher on you local computer, which I guess is a good thing, but commandeering the Tab key on the remote computer is a problem if you’re working in a word processor or text editor and really need to enter a tab.

But it’s even weirder than that. Say you hit the Tab key while working in Screen Sharing and you inadvertently bring up the remote application switcher. You can arrow back to the application you were in and hit the Return key to dismiss the application switcher. But now the remote computer acts as if you have the Command key down for every subsequent action. If you’re in a text editor and type an “n,” you’ll open a new document instead of inserting an “n” at the cursor. If you type a “w,” you’ll close the current document. And so on. Clicking on an icon in the dock doesn’t launch an application, it reveals that application in a new Finder window. (Which really freaked me out. I’ve been using OS X for over three years and had no idea that a Command-click in the Dock did a Finder reveal. Live and learn.)

At this point you may think you’re really screwed. It’s impossible to work when every keystroke and mouse click is interpreted as if the Command key is being pressed. Fortunately, there’s a cure. Press any modifier key--Command, Option, Control, Shift, or Caps Lock--and the remote computer stops thinking you have the Command key pressed. I learned this initially by accident (Why did it start acting normal again?) and then through trial and error (Let’s see if the Option key works, too. Yes!).

I suppose I should file a bug report. This behavior can’t be what Apple wants.