The function keys are rarely used by most programs on the Mac. So Apple added special commands for those keys instead. Users can control iTunes, display brightness, and launch Mission Control or LaunchPad. This has made those function keys much more useful.
For applications that use those function keys, there are several ways to get around these special functions. The Fn key can be used to switch between normal function keys and Apple’s function keys. With applications like Photoshop, using the fn key for function keys can create some weird shortcuts. How the fn is used can be controlled with the preference in the Keyboard System Preference panel. Yet, it would be nice to change the function key mode on they fly or be dependent on the current application. Now you can.
Palua is an application in the Mac App Store that allows users to change function key mode. The mode can be changed with a global keyboard shortcut. Palua also has a smart mode which switches the mode based on the application. With the smart mode, the users can use Apple’s function keys for the Finder and use the normal Function keys for applications that use them, like Photoshop. All the user has to do is select the application and decide which mode they want to the given application in the preferences.
Apple’s function key commands work best for applications that don’t use them. Normal function keys are still needed for applications that use them. Palua saves time by allowing the user to select which mode they want the function keys to use based on either a global shortcut or automatically based on the selected application. Palua is almost free at $.99 and only takes up a tiny 5 MB of system memory.