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icon <1K Forward Delete 1.1.4

Last updated: March 3, 2001

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4 mice MacUser's rating: four out of five mice.
Mentioned in TidBITS #168.
A Fabulous Freeware on MacTimes: "I try to slip this one on every machine I work on at school."

Forward Delete is a small extension enabling that mysterious key called forward delete, present on all Extended Keyboards. When Forward Delete is installed, press this key to delete the character at the right of the insertion point.

You can obtain the same effect by pressing shift-delete (this is useful on any keyboard).

Moreover, you can delete whole words with the Apple-approved combinations option-delete and option-fwd del.

It works with applications using TextEdit (if you do not know what TextEdit is, do not worry: it is simply that part of the Mac Operating System which manages basic text editing). Try it out with SimpleText or in dialog boxes.

It does not work, and it is not supposed to work, with applications that implement their own text editing, such as word processors. These applications have to follow the guidelines and handle the forward delete key properly.

If you install this utility, you will find yourself using the forward delete key more frequently, even in applications which have always supported it! Call it consistency across applications...

Forward Delete should work on any Mac under any System.

Update: Dale Gillard noticed that the Mac OS 9.1 shortcut key for emptying the trash (Shift + Command + delete) does not work when Forward Delete is installed. Rather, the trash can is simply highlighted whenever he presses this new keyboard command.

Jack Jackson described in http://www.macintouch.com/m91_readerreports4.html, on February 28, how one can inadvertently delete files under Mac OS 9.1. Forward Delete might prevent that, as it reportedly disables the new keyboard command.

Looking for Forward Delete alternatives? Check out
Amazingly, lots of Mac users still use and remember about my Forward Delete extension. I started receiving questions from Mac websites and people in general who have "sighted" ForwardDelete by Peter Hoerster which is a remarkably similar program, but implemented differently.

David Kettlewell of The New Renaissance - Sweden & Estonia explains how Peter Hoerster developed ForwardDelete:

After I'd worked with Peter Hoerster on the English text of the CopyPaste manual, he said he'd do a bit of programming for me if I needed something. What I needed was a forward-delete function for the iMac keyboard, and he did one for me, just like that.

It was I who reacted to letters in the Mac press from people lamenting the lack in the new keyboards, and suggesting various odd and clumsy solutions, and it seemed silly not to let people know that this simple solution was there; Peter said "If you want to put it on your server as a freeware, go ahead", so I did.

Since then I discovered that Fabrizio had written a similar-sounding thing, but I notice that his version doesn't work with word processors: I don't know the technical details, but Peter's works with the 16 programs I've tried it on... Fabrizio says this shows that he implemented it differently.

Some people have been surprised that even the icon looks the same: I have to take responsibility for not checking out all existing program icons, but it simply never occurred to me... Since it wasn't made for publication, Peter didn't give his extension an icon, and I thought it would be fun to try out my Photoshop skills. And to be honest, if you're making an icon for an extension which emulates the function of the forward-delete key, what would anyone do but stick the forward-delete key-cap onto the standard extension icon...?

And now Cletus of ResExcellence writes

Apparently there are now three of the forward delete type extensions... There is one for USB now: ShadowKeys
- and guess what its icon looks like... ?

About Peter's ForwardDelete, here is the (translated) article that Applicando published on its website. (Thanks for the pointer, Peppino!) Unfortunately, their website forbids access to that page right now, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Galileo, Newton, Einstein and... Peter Hoerster!
A 10K extension that brings the "del" key back to life.

Sometimes geniuses crop up and Peter Hoerster is one of them. Tomorrow we shall send a letter to Apple because we think he should be immediately hired and put in charge of some strategic division. How many, using the new Apple keyboards, have been surprised by the disappearance of the "del" key (meaning the forward delete key)? It's really a pain to have to reach for the mouse to perform such a simple task. Thank goodness in the developer community there's somebody who cares about the needs of typists. Peter Hoerster created an extension (freeware!) that, when installed, creates a new keyboard shortcut that simulates the missing key: press shift-delete to magically see the characters disappearing from the right side of the cursor. Don't miss it.

Well, I did send my resume to Apple a few years back, but the presence of Forward Delete didn't help. I wish Peter the best though. However, since the old days Apple has quite changed. As Bruce Tognazzini puts it in Apple Squandering the Advantage,

Lots has happened to input devices, but you wouldn't know it looking at a Macintosh. The only changes to input technology that have taken place recently around Apple are the crippling of the keyboard and the farcical round mouse that has made Apple the laughingstock of the industry.
Update: At long last, Apple released a new keyboard and a new mouse.

This page was last built with Frontier on a Macintosh on Mon, Apr 22, 2002 at 9:44:27 PM by
Fabrizio Oddone, fab@kagi.com