Best Mac OS X Shortcuts

No matter what you’re doing, efficiency helps — and what better way to be more efficient than using keyboard shortcuts? MacOS has dozens of keyboard shortcuts that help you perform simple tasks with quick combinations of mouse clicks, rather than lengthy searches through menus to perform the same function.

But even expert users may not know everything. Here is a list of the best MacOS keyboard shortcuts to help improve your efficiency and reduce your work time.

I previously wrote a list of useful keyboard shortcuts for MacOS, but that was over 9 years ago. To my surprise, all the shortcuts in that article still work!

1. Focus (Command + Space)

Let’s face it: Spotlight is one of MacOS’s greatest features. The ability to search any file, any application, and even recommended websites makes it one of the most powerful tools available for Mac users. To open Spotlight, just press Request And after that Space bar.

If you find yourself using Spotlight to find out which folder is in a certain file, just highlight that file in Spotlight search and press Request + enter to open it in the directory containing it.

2. Cut, Copy, Paste (Command + X Command + C, Command + V)

Copy + paste is probably the most used function on the keyboard. Honestly: no one wants to type the same thing over and over again. If you’re editing a document, it’s important to move text from one section and place it in another.

Sure, you can use a mouse or trackpad to do that, but the easiest way is to select a line of text and press Request + X to cut, and then hit Request + DRAW paste. If you don’t want to delete the text but you still need to copy it, Request + OLD will just do the trick.

If you make a mistake during this process, quickly tap Request + Z will follow your most recent action.

If you need to select a large amount of text at once, Request + One is the “Select All” shortcut. And if you want to copy and paste text without losing its current style, press Request + Change + DRAW. This will paste the text into the new document with the same font, effect, and size.

3. Swap Between Applications (Command + Tab)

When you need to switch between tabs (for example, a word document and web browser for research), clicking becomes tedious. The easiest way is to hit Request + Navigation to switch between the two most recently used apps.

On the other hand, if you need to switch to an open but not recently used app, just press and hold Command and press Tab to move between all open apps. If you want to go back, press Request + Change + Navigation.

4. Take a screenshot (Command + Shift + 3)

Windows users are familiar with the Print Screen function, but taking screenshots on Mac is not so simple. To take a picture of your entire screen, tap Request + Change + 3.

If you just want to take a screenshot of a specific part of the screen, press Request + Change + 4. This causes the cursor to change to a cell. Click and drag the box to enclose the area you want to take a screenshot of. When you release the click, it takes a picture and sends it (by default) to your desktop.

5. Close Windows (Command + Q)

When you want to close the window without navigating the mouse to the red “X” at the top left of the screen, just touch Request + Q. This is especially useful at the end of a long day at work when you want to close multiple apps quickly.

Otherwise, if the app is stuck or unresponsive, tap Request + Right to buy + Escape will display the Force Quit menu, similar to the Task Manager in Windows.

6. Quick Save (Command + S)

There’s no worse feeling than losing a lot of progress on an essay or assignment because you haven’t saved it in a while. The key to avoiding that is to get into the habit of saving quickly. Just press Request + S to save the file you are currently working on. If you haven’t assigned a filename to it, you’ll be given the option to do so as soon as you enter the command.

If you specified a filename but need to assign a new name to it, the “Save As” shortcut would be Request + Change + S.

7. Find (Command + F)

When reading through large amounts of text, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need. If you know a specific keyword or phrase that will narrow it down, just press Request + F and enter text. The screen will automatically jump to the first instance of the entered phrase and highlight it for easy location.

Custom keyboard shortcuts

Mac OS has tons of built-in keyboard shortcuts, but if you find it lacks what you need, never fear. There are many ways to create custom keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how to do it.

1. First, click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen.

2. Select System Preferences.

3. Open Keyboard.

4. Navigate to Shortcuts navigation.

5. Select App Shortcuts at the bottom.

Application Shortcuts window in Keyboard Settings

6. Click the button “+“Sign right under the box.

Menu Title field in the New Application Shortcut window

7. Select the application you want to apply the shortcut to. (All apps are an option.)

8. Enter the Menu item it will create a shortcut for.

9. Select the shortcut box and enter the key combination.

10. Congratulations! You now have a custom keyboard shortcut.

Some things to keep in mind: You must be correct in syntax and spelling when specifying menu items to change. Otherwise the shortcut will not work. In the menu of the specified application, you will see your new custom shortcut displayed next to the action for easy reference.

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