Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It's always been possible to remove focus from all selected files in Finder by pressing the ⎋ Escape key. It would appear that this is no longer possible in OS X Mavericks. I navigate the Finder entirely via keyboard and using ⎋ Escape is something I do quite frequently.

I've looked at nearly every preference pane I could think of as well as the contents of com.apple.finder.plist, com.apple.systempreferences.plist, and com.apple.universalaccess.plist, but no luck so far (or I'm just not seeing it).

Any ideas?

share|improve this question
I think this got replaced by the menu item Edit > Select All. That doesn’t seem to like being set to Esc in System Preferences, but perhaps that’s something to dig into? –  alexwlchan Nov 10 '13 at 0:21
@alexwlchan I don't quite follow. I'm trying to select zero files, not all files. –  Jerome Dahdah Nov 10 '13 at 1:34
No kidding! Sounds nice, but I've never, in many years, seen or heard of this … in Finder. In some apps, yes, but ... –  Zo219 Nov 10 '13 at 5:33
@JeromeDahdah: I fail at typing. If you hold down the Opt key, then Select All becomes Deselect All. I assume that’s what you’re looking for, but I can't find an easy way to bind that to Esc. –  alexwlchan Nov 10 '13 at 9:06
Alright, my progress so far. As @alexwlchan mentions, it's impossible to bind esc in System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts. I've added cmd+esc as a shortcut for Deselect All, but that's far from ideal. I've now figured out that it is possible to remove cmd from the shortcut by editing com.apple.finder.plist. This can be done either by using the XCode plist editor or by using defaults write com.apple.finder.plist NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Deselect all" -string "\\U238b" in Terminal.app. –  Jerome Dahdah Nov 11 '13 at 22:20

4 Answers 4

Right shortcut is: CmdOpt-A

In System Preferences > Keyboard > App Shortcut you can create your custom shortcut, only for Finder if you want (You must use at least combination of cmd or option or maiusc + another key).

share|improve this answer
Why was this downvoted? It is the correct answer. + + A = Deselect All in Finder. –  Mathias Bynens Nov 14 '13 at 18:53
@MathiasBynens The question is how to restore that functionality to the Esc key, which is not possible with this answer. Please see also my further comments below my original question. –  Jerome Dahdah Nov 15 '13 at 1:34
Instead of the Esc key you can use F19 on a wide apple keyboard, it's located like the Esc key, just on the other side, it's almost as comfortable. –  biziclop Jan 16 '14 at 14:21

Download and install the free & excellent KeyRemap4MacBook software: https://pqrs.org/macosx/keyremap4macbook/

Open its main preference window then choose the Misc & Uninstall tab

Follow the steps described at


using this snippet as the content for private.xml:

<?xml version="1.0"?>

    <name>Finder: Escape to Deselect All (Cmd-Opt-D)</name>
      KeyCode::ESCAPE, ModifierFlag::NONE,
      KeyCode::A, ModifierFlag::COMMAND_L | ModifierFlag::OPTION_L


After pressing the ReloadXML find the new mapping and turn it on, and enjoy.

PS. Don't forget to remove any custom keyboard shortcut from Finder's Deselect All… from System Preferences/Keyboard/Shortcuts/App Shortcuts/Finder/Deselect All… if you tried solving this problem this way.

share|improve this answer
This works like a charm. Thank you! –  Jerome Dahdah Jan 10 '14 at 23:55
Now Escape key can't escape from file renaming :/ Isn't it great to have a computer which talks to you (but otherwise it's becoming crappier and crappier with every update)? –  biziclop Jan 11 '14 at 12:10
Hm, you're right, I hadn't encountered that one yet. I'll leave this marked as accepted for now, as it's currently the closest to a full solution. And yeah, it sucks, but I figure they did this so that it doesn't conflict with exiting Finder's fullscreen mode. It makes sense, but it sucks. –  Jerome Dahdah Jan 12 '14 at 1:16
Also, you can't escape from Finder's (normal+contextual) menus with plain Escape, but Command-Escape seems to work. –  biziclop Jan 12 '14 at 9:02
No worries, I also don't really like my own "solution". I tried to create a shortcut in BetterTouchTool with two actions (first triggering Esc to leave menu/renaming/whatever, then triggering deselecting), but it didn't accept the Esc key as a shortcut (just like in system preferences). Maybe redefining F19 as Esc, and Esc as Deselect? ... I hate when Apple fixes working things. FTFF!!!! :) –  biziclop Jan 16 '14 at 22:31

Please check Keyboard Maestro… :)

Escaping Finder selection with Keyboard Maestro

share|improve this answer
Royaljerry, please could you expand your answer to explain the contents of the screen shots. This would help others find your answer and help those who have difficulty understanding the embedded images. –  Graham Miln Apr 17 '14 at 9:37

This is a great utility for mapping new shortcuts… http://www.keyboardmaestro.com

PS thanks for the + + A

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.