Do more while doing less with the best Mac keyboard shortcuts

mac keyboard shortcuts

Mac keyboard shortcuts are a quick and efficient way to execute various commands without ever needing to leave the keyboard to fiddle with a mouse or touchpad. If you master them, they’re one of the few things that can make using your Mac even easier than it already is. The only problem is there are hundreds of different key combinations, and few of us have the mental capacity to remember them all. The good news is that memorizing every single one is neither necessary nor practical.

So rather than just listing all the Mac keyboard shortcuts for you, we’ve taken the time to pick out the keyboard shortcuts that are most likely to be useful to you on a regular basis – and a few that are just plain cool.  We’re guessing you’re already familiar with the standard stuff (command+C, command+V, command+S, etc.), so to kick things off, we’ll start with a list of ten awesome ones you may not know about.

command+space

Open Spotlight

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command+shift+4

Capture custom screenshot

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command+control+D

Define highlighted word

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command+control+power 

Restart (opens confirmation dialog)

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command+shift+delete

Empty trash (opens confirmation dialog)

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command+comma

Open Preferences for the current app

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option+shift+F11/F12

Change volume in smaller increments

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option+shift+F1/F2

Change brightness in smaller increments

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shift+F3 OR shift+F4

Slow down MacOS’ snappy animation

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command+shift+8

Solves a highlighted math problem (eg: 3.14*1.618)

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Pretty awesome, right? Well guess what – that’s is only the tip of the iceberg. MacOS has a boatload of other keyboard shortcuts that you can use to speed up your workflow.

Before we dive straight into the big list, we thought it’d be nice to highlight some of the most useful shortcuts in a table of their own. Not only are these the most handy of the bunch, but they’re also the most simple to remember – many of the shortcuts use keys that correspond with the first letter of their function (command+q = quit, for example).

Command A Select all
Command C Copy
Command V Paste
Command X Cut
Command S Save
Command Q Quit
Command N New
Command Z Undo/Redo
Command M Minimize window
Command W Close window
Command P Print
Command F Find

In addition to the shortcuts listed above, you should also learn the standard commands for manipulating text. If you do a lot of word processing and writing on your Mac, memorizing these shortcuts will save you time by eliminating the need to take your hands off the keyboard.

Command B Bold
Command I Italicize
Command U Underline

And now, the big list:

Finder Shortcuts

Command-A Select all items in the front Finder window (or desktop if no window is open)
Command-Option-A Deselect all items
Command-Shift-A Open the Applications folder
Command-C Copy selected item/text to the Clipboard
Command-Shift-C Open the Computer window
Command-D Duplicate selected item
Command-Shift-D Open desktop folder
Command-E Eject
Command-F Find any matching Spotlight attribute
Command-Shift-F Find Spotlight file name matches
Command-Option-F Navigate to the search field in an already-open Spotlight window
Command-Shift-G Go to Folder
Command-Shift-H Open the Home folder of the currently logged-in user account
Command-I Get Info
Command-Option-I Show Inspector
Command-Control-I Get Summary Info
Command-Shift-I Open iCloud Drive
Command-J Show View Options
Command-K Connect to Server
Command-Shift-K Open Network window
Command-L Make alias of the selected item
Command-M Minimize window
Command-Option-M Minimize all windows
Command-N New Finder window
Command-Shift-N New folder
Command-Option-N New Smart Folder
Command-O Open selected item
Command-Shift-Q Log out
Command-Shift-Option-Q Log out immediately
Command-R Show original (of alias)
Command-T Add to Sidebar
Command-Shift-T Add to Favorites
Command-Option-T Hide Toolbar / Show Toolbar in Finder windows
Command-Shift-U Open Utilities folder
Command-V Paste
Command-W Close window
Command-Option-W Close all windows
Command-X Cut
Command-Option-Y Slideshow (Mac OS X v10.5 or later)
Command-Z Undo / Redo
Command-1 View as Icon
Command-2 View as List
Command-3 View as Columns
Command-4 View as Cover Flow (Mac OS X v10.5 or later)
Command-Comma (,) Open Finder preferences
Command-Accent (`) (the Accent key above Tab key on a US English keyboard layout) Cycle through open Finder windows
Command-Shift-Question Mark (?) Open the Help menu
Command-Left Bracket ([) Go to the previous folder
Command-Right Bracket (]) Go to the next folder
Command-Up Arrow Open the folder that contains the current folder
Command-Control-Up Arrow Open the folder that contains the current folder in a new window
Command-Down Arrow Open highlighted item
Command-Shift-Up Arrow Make the desktop active
Right Arrow (in List view) Open the selected folder
Left Arrow (in List view) Close the selected folder
Option-click the disclosure triangle (in List view) Open all folders within the selected folder
Option–double-click Open a folder in a separate window, closing the current window
Command–double-click Open a folder in a separate window
Command-click the window title See the folders that contain the current window
Command-Tab Switch application – cycle forward
Command-Shift-Tab Switch application – cycle backward
Command-Delete Move to Trash
Command-Shift-Delete Empty Trash
Command-Shift-Option-Delete Empty Trash without confirmation dialog
Space bar (or Command-Y) Quick Look (Mac OS X v10.5 or later)
Command key while dragging Move dragged item to other volume/location (pointer icon changes while key is held – see this article)
Option key while dragging Copy dragged item (pointer icon changes while key is held – see this article)
Command-Option key combination while dragging Make alias of dragged item (pointer icon changes while key is held – see this article)

 Startup Shortcuts

Option Display all bootable volumes (Startup Manager)
Shift Perform a Safe Boot (start up in Safe Mode)
Left Shift Prevent automatic login
C Start from bootable media (DVD, CD, USB thumb drive, and so forth)
T Start in FireWire target disk mode
N Start from NetBoot server
X Force MacOS startup (if non-MacOS startup volumes are present)
D Use Apple Hardware Test
Command-R Use Recovery (OS X Lion or later)
Command-V Start in Verbose Mode
Command-S Start in Single User Mode
Command-Option-P-R Reset NVRAM / parameter RAM
Hold down the Media Eject (⏏) key or F12 key, or mouse or trackpad button Eject removable discs

Other Application Shortcuts

Note: Some applications may not support all of the following application key combinations.

Command-Space bar Show or hide the Spotlight search field (if multiple languages are installed, may rotate through enabled script systems)
Control-A Move to beginning of line/paragraph
Control-B Move one character backward
Control-D Delete the character in front of the cursor
Control-E Move to end of line/paragraph
Control-F Move one character forward
Control-H Delete the character behind the cursor
Control-K Delete from the character in front of the cursor to the end of the line/paragraph
Control-L Center the cursor/selection in the visible area
Control-N Move down one line
Control-O Insert a new line after the cursor
Control-P Move up one line
Control-T Transpose the character behind the cursor and the character in front of the cursor
Control-V Move down one page
Option-Delete Delete the word that is left of the cursor, as well as any spaces or punctuation after the word
Command-Option-Space bar Show the Spotlight search results window (if multiple languages are installed, may rotate through keyboard layouts and input methods within a script)
Command-Tab Move forward to the next most recently-used application in a list of open applications
Command-Shift-Tab Move backward through a list of open applications (sorted by recent use)
Shift-Tab Navigate through controls in a reverse direction
Control-Tab Move focus to the next grouping of controls in a dialog or the next table (when Tab moves to the next cell)
Shift-Control-Tab Move focus to the previous grouping of controls
Command-esc Open Front Row (if installed)
Option-Media Eject (⏏) Eject from secondary optical media drive (if one is installed)
Fn-Delete Forward Delete (on a portable Mac’s built-in keyboard)
Control-F3 Move focus to the active (or next) window
F3 Tile or untile all open windows
Command-F3 Hide or show all open windows
F4 Hide or display Dashboard
Command-Accent (`) Activate the next open window in the frontmost application
Command-Shift-Accent (`) Activate the previous open window in the frontmost application
Command-Option-Accent (`) Move focus to the window drawer
Command-Minus (–) Decrease the size of the selected item
Command-{ Left-align a selection
Command-} Right-align a selection
Command-| Center-align a selection
Shift-Command-Colon (:) Display the Spelling window
Command-Semicolon (;) Find misspelled words in the document
Command-Option-Control-Comma (,) Decrease screen contrast
Command-Option-Control-Period (.) Increase screen contrast
Command-Option-/ Turn font smoothing on or off
Command-Shift-= Increase the size of the selected item
Command-Shift-3 Capture the screen to a file
Command-Shift-Control-3 Capture the screen to the Clipboard
Command-Shift-4 Capture a selection to a file
Command-Shift-Control-4 Capture a selection to the Clipboard
Command-A Highlight every item in a document or window, or all characters in a text field
Command-B Boldface the selected text or toggle boldfaced text on and off
Command-C Copy the selected data to the Clipboard
Command-Shift-C Display the Colors window
Command-Option-C Copy the style of the selected text
Command-Control-C Copy the formatting settings of the selected item and store on the Clipboard
Command-Option-D Show or hide the Dock
Command-Control-D Display the definition of the selected word in the Dictionary application
Command-D Selects the Desktop folder in Open and Save dialogs
or
Selects “Don’t Save” in dialogs that contain a Don’t Save button, in Mac OS X v10.6.8 and earlier
Command-Delete Selects “Don’t Save” in dialogs that contain a Don’t Save button
Command-E Use the selection for a find
Command-F Open a Find window
Command-Option-F Move to the search field control
Command-G Find the next occurrence of the selection
Command-Shift-G Find the previous occurrence of the selection
Command-H Hide the windows of the currently running application
Command-Option-H Hide the windows of all other running applications
Command-I Italicize the selected text or toggle italic text on or off
Command-Option-I Display an inspector window
Command-J Scroll to a selection
Command-M Minimize the active window to the Dock
Command-Option-M Minimize all windows of the active application to the Dock
Command-N Create a new document in the frontmost application
Command-O Display a dialog for choosing a document to open in the frontmost application
Command-P Display the Print dialog
Command-Shift-P Display a dialog for specifying printing parameters (Page Setup)
Command-Q Quit the frontmost application
Command-S Save the active document
Command-Shift-S Display the Save As dialog
Command-T Display the Fonts window
Command-Option-T Show or hide a toolbar
Command-U Underline the selected text or turn underlining on or off
Command-V Paste the Clipboard contents at the insertion point
Command-Option-V Apply the style of one object to the selected object (Paste Style)
Command-Shift-Option-V Apply the style of the surrounding text to the inserted object (Paste and Match Style)
Command-Control-V Apply formatting settings to the selected object (Paste Ruler Command)
Command-W Close the frontmost window
Command-Shift-W Close a file and its associated windows
Command-Option-W Close all windows in the application without quitting it
Command-X Remove the selection and store in the Clipboard
Command-Z Undo previous command (some applications allow for multiple Undos)
Command-Shift-Z Redo previous command (some applications allow for multiple Redos)
Control-Right Arrow Move focus to another value or cell within a view, such as a table
Control-Left Arrow Move focus to another value or cell within a view, such as a table
Control-Down Arrow Move focus to another value or cell within a view, such as a table
Control-Up Arrow Move focus to another value or cell within a view, such as a table
Command-Right Arrow Move the text insertion point to the end of the current line
Command-Left Arrow Move the text insertion point to the beginning of the current line
Command-Down Arrow Move the text insertion point to the end of the document
Command-Up Arrow Move the text insertion point to the beginning of the document
Option-Right Arrow Move the text insertion point to the end of the next word
Option-Left Arrow Move the text insertion point to the beginning of the previous word
Command-Shift-Right Arrow Select text between the insertion point and the end of the current line (*)
Command-Shift-Left Arrow Select text between the insertion point and the beginning of the current line (*)
Shift-Right Arrow Extend text selection one character to the right (*)
Shift-Left Arrow Extend text selection one character to the left (*)
Command-Shift-Up Arrow Select text between the insertion point and the beginning of the document (*)
Command-Shift-Down Arrow Select text between the insertion point and the end of the document (*)
Shift-Up Arrow Extend text selection to the line above, to the nearest character boundary at the same horizontal location (*)
Shift-Down Arrow Extend text selection to the line below, to the nearest character boundary at the same horizontal location (*)
Shift-Option-Right Arrow Extend text selection to the end of the current word, then to the end of the following word if pressed again (*)
Shift-Option-Left Arrow Extend text selection to the beginning of the current word, then to the beginning of the following word if pressed again (*)
Shift-Option-Down Arrow Extend text selection to the end of the current paragraph, then to the end of the following paragraph if pressed again (*)
Shift-Option-Up Arrow Extend text selection to the beginning of the current paragraph, then to the beginning of the following paragraph if pressed again (*)
Control-Space bar Toggle between the current and previous input sources
Option-Control-Space bar Toggle through all enabled input sources
Command-Option-Esc Force Quit
Command-Shift-Option-Esc (hold for three seconds) Force Quit the front-most application (Mac OS X v10.5 or later)
Command-Left Bracket ([) Go backward in browser history
Command-Right Bracket (]) Go forward in browser history

If you’re a Windows user, be sure to check out our Windows 10 keyboard shortcut guide for a quick set of tips and tricks to get you up to speed in no time.

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