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TS2546: Enter vs. Return on keyboards with one key

Hardware Issue

The Problem

On Mac keyboards that do not have a numeric keypad (MacBooks, some wireless keyboards) there is no Enter key, only a Return key with Enter written in smaller letters toward the top. Pressing that key inserts a Carriage Return. How do I ‘Enter’ a record from the keyboard?

Resolved in Helix 7

This issue is resolved in Helix 7, by merging the function of the Return and Enter keys. See Return Key Processing in Helix 7.0 for important details on this change.


For users of Helix 6.2.4 and earlier, there are four solutions: (Click thumbnail images for a larger image, press left/right arrows to advance.)

  1. Press fn-Return: In the lower left corner of keyboards without a distinct Enter key is the function (abbreviated: fn) key. Holding the fn key down while pressing the return key triggers the Enter function. Likewise, the fn key modifies the behavior of the F-keys at the top of the keyboard, and changes the delete key into a forward-delete key. (It also enables a section of the main keyboard to act as a numeric keypad.)
  2. Enter via Menu Command: Unless it has been specifically moved (or removed), the Enter command is found in the View menu. Select it to enter the record. (This menu item changes to read Replace when editing an existing record.)
  3. Enter as Sequence on Menu: Create a sequence containing just the Enter command, add that to one of the user’s menus, and assign a command key to it. (You can’t modify the command key for the Enter command, but you can add a command key to a sequence containing the Enter command.)
  4. Enter as Sequence via Button on View: The sequence (above) can also be placed in a command rectangle on templates used for entry views. The user can click the button to enter the record. (If you also set its attribute to ‘Default Button’ keyboards that do have an Enter key will trigger the sequence when the key is pressed.)

In 2008, Apple began introducing keyboards without a distinct Enter key. This first appeared on MacBooks; then on the wireless keyboard designed for use with desktop computers.

In addition, many computer environments (particuarly on Windows computers) currently treat the Enter and Return keys as identical in function. This may explain in part why Apple is merging the two functions into a single key.

We saw the potential problems this could cause back in 2007, and asked Helix users for feedback on what to do. The discussion, along with the results of that survey, are found here.


This issue affects all Helix applications running on computers with ‘Enter-less’ keyboards attached.