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What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts on Mac OS X?

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33 Answers 33

ctrl+F2: Access the menu via the keyboard (Windows alt+space equivalent).

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+1 - This tip alone has just totally justified getting involved in the beta. I don't know how I haven't found this previously, but I have often wanted to access the menu without a mouse. –  robsoft Aug 18 '10 at 8:20
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PS: There's a list of all Mac OS Keyboard Shortcuts available at support.apple.com/kb/ht1343 –  intlect Aug 18 '10 at 13:41
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And then you can move around the menus with the arrow keys, press Enter to expand a menu, and again Enter to run a command. –  intlect Sep 3 '10 at 5:57
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Depending on you keyboard and key bindings, you might need to press Ctrl + function (fn) + F2 –  zevlag Feb 7 '11 at 16:56
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Ctrl-f3 gives you access to the dock –  Samantha Catania Sep 3 '11 at 9:16

Typing / on any file dialog will give you a "go to folder" dialog, which autocompletes with tab (you have to wait a second for it to work). This lets you type in the full path, from the root / folder.

Extra handy if you want to open from / save to hidden locations or already have the command line path you want to save something in.

This can be also accessed via ~ (i.e. the tilde key, to start from your home directory, e.g. ~/Documents) or using cmd+shift+G (which starts with the most recently entered directory).

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This is also works with "~" –  Sridhar Ratnakumar Apr 5 '11 at 4:00
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I've never been more excited about a forward slash. I'll try and fail to express my excitement about this shortcut to my wife when I get home. –  OrangeBox May 3 '12 at 3:45

+space: activate spotlight.

Then you can launch any application, open most files, do quick calculations, etc.

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++.: show/hide hidden files on any file dialog

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Good one! I wish this shortcut also worked in finder windows. –  Senseful Feb 7 '11 at 21:09

++4: selective screenshot saved on desktop

++ctrl+4: selective screenshot saved in clipboard

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As an add on: Cmd+Shift+4 and then a space converts the mouse pointer into a "Camera". Clicking on a window with this "Camera" pointer creates a screenshot of only that window. –  Nivas Feb 18 '11 at 10:54

+: Cycle through running apps

+`: Cycle through windows for current app

+W: Close current window

+Q: Quit current app

+,: Preferences dialog for current app

+H: Hide current app (as long as it's not Photoshop)

ctrl++: Sleep all displays

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+1 for the photoshop comment :) –  KARASZI István Mar 30 '11 at 21:37
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+1 Love the sleep all displays!!!!!! –  daviesgeek Jan 12 '12 at 22:52
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I guess there isn't an alternative for the Sleep all displays for the new MBA's which don't have an eject button anymore? I've setup a Hot Corner which does this, but would prefer a keyboard shortcut. –  DonnaLea May 3 '12 at 5:33
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@DonnaLea, there is alternative. Press power button instead of eject. So it's Ctrl+Shift+Power. –  Denis Bazhenov Jun 17 '13 at 3:37

Power keys:

Ctrl+: "Are you sure you want to shut down your computer" dialog message appears:

power dialog

Ctrl++: restart the computer

Ctrl++-: shut down the computer

++: puts the computer in sleep mode

+Ctrl+: puts the monitor in sleep mode

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Thanks for Shift-Ctrl-Eject, I was looking for something like that. –  Peter Štibraný Sep 20 '10 at 11:30

++N: Create a new folder in Finder

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ctrl+++8: High contrast theme.

+` (backtick): Cycle through app's windows.

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+1 for the cmd+backtick shortcut, I've wondered about such a command for a long time! –  Peter Kruithof Aug 26 '10 at 8:13

Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Esc ⎋ brings up the force quit dialog, which is handy for killing unresponsive applications. Force quit applications

Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Shift ⇧ + Esc ⎋ held down for 5 seconds kills the foremost application.

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For me the life saving shortcut is the quarter increment/decrement of light/sound:

+ and the increment/decrement light or sound button.

It is extremely useful with LED Cinema Display monitors.

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This doesn't seem to work (anymore?) on my late 2011 MacBook Air running 10.7.1. –  Samuel Mikel Bowles Sep 18 '11 at 4:19
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It's working again in 10.7.4. –  KARASZI István May 15 '12 at 14:23
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@IainDawson: It came back before, 10.7 is Lion and it's back since version 10.7.4. –  KARASZI István Oct 23 '12 at 13:36

++H: hide all inactive application windows

This is great for focusing on a single task or works well as a kind of show desktop if you switch to Finder first (providing you have few or no windows open)

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Here's a great one (for switchers) I got from the TextMate blog;

Create the folder ~/Library/KeyBindings (if it doesn't already exist) In there, create a key-binding file DefaultKeyBinding.dict In that file, put this text (including all braces & punctuation);

{
    /* home */
    "\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";
    "$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:";

    /* end */
    "\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfLine:";
    "$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";

    /* page up/down */
    "\UF72C"  = "pageUp:";
    "\UF72D"  = "pageDown:";
}

Save the file, and when you next start a Cocoa app (eg Mail, TextEdit etc) you will find that Home, End, Pg Up and Pg Down now work as they do on Windows.

It's well worth having a look at the whole of that article - he explains exactly how to make this file and how the bindings work, with information about the other keycodes etc.

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I tried approaches like this for a while, but then got annoyed by the apps that didn't use the keybindings. It's probably better to get used to it. (You won't have it remapped on a school's, library's, or friend's Mac for example.) I switch between OS X, Windows, and Linux all the time and while it took a little getting used to each of them, spending the time has been worth it. –  Benjamin Oakes Aug 25 '10 at 21:30
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@Benjamin: I disagree. I've been using a Mac for 3+ years now and still haven't adjusted. I agree with the concept of adjusting (for instance, Cmd+c instead of Ctrl+c), but I think the home and end thing is just too much for me for whatever reason. Also, I'm not too concerned with how I will work on friend's or library's computers, since I spend >99% of my time on my own computer. +1 for an answer that changed the way I use my Mac! –  David Hollman Nov 17 '10 at 14:57
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@Benjamin: I also disagree. Having used Mac for 7+ years, I still prefer the Windows way for doing pageup/down and moving to end of line. Maybe because I use a "Win" keyboard (Razer BlackWidow) or maybe because I learned to use computer with DOS and later Windows 3.11. But in any case, my hands are used to the WinWay. :) –  Martín Marconcini Feb 1 '11 at 12:11

++?: Help->Search, then type any menu item text, can be just a prefix

+E: put selected text in search dialog

+G and ++G: find next/previous

+++4: Take a screenshot, press space for whole window screenshot

ctrl + mouse scroller: zoom screen

++: sleep

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+E: Put selected text into search clipboard.

Then + G to find next. In combination with regular copy-paste you can do selective search and replace very quickly and conveniently.

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  • ctrl+A: Go to the beginning of the line (works in every Cocoa textfield)

  • ctrl+E: Go to the end of the line (works in every Cocoa textfield)

  • ++H : Pop up the Home folder

  • ++D : Pop up the Desktop folder

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The first two are the standard emacs keybindings, and you can use many of the standard emacs keybindings on (all?) Cocoa applications. ctrl+t is a favourite one: for transposing two characters. –  José Figueroa-O'Farrill Aug 18 '10 at 11:58

Holding down the while booting to select the startup volume. Holding down C while booting to boot from a CD/DVD in the drive.

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While being in the application switcher (using +) cycle to an application by pressing or +; then - while still holding down - press the down arrow to see an expose view of the selected app´s windows, including minimized windows. Using the arrow keys navigate to a window you want to bring to the foreground and hit to select it.

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++4+space+click on a window copies the current window to the desktop.

This is very useful while taking screenshots without the need to crop. The rounded edges stay rounded. Use this with ctrl to copy the image to the clipboard.

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+C: Copy selection

+V: Paste selection

+X: Cut selection

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+W: Close window (or tab).
++W: Close all windows.

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In a text area:
Command ⌘ + the end of the line (like End)
Command ⌘ + the beginning of the line (like Home)
Option ⌥ + jump forward one word
Option ⌥ + jump back one word

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shift+F12 or F11 - change sound volume without 'bip' sound

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Zoom shortcuts, very good for presentations:

fn+++8: turn on/off zoom

fn+++=: zoom in

fn+++-: zoom out

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ctrl+ or ctrl+ to move between Mission Control spaces (in Lion).

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ctrl++1 to order files by name (icon view)

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On newer keyboards, invoke Exposé to

  • fn+F3: show all windows (in the current Space)
  • fn++F3: show the desktop
  • fn+ctrl+F3: show the "current application" windows
  • fn++F3: show the Exposé preference pane

While being in Exposé,

  • cycle through windows with the arrow keys, using return to bring them into focus.
  • use and + to cycle through windows by applications (as highlighted in the Dock)
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+: Cycle through applications.

+`: Cycle through the current application's windows.

: Auto fill commands and file/directory names in Terminal.

++4: Take a screenshot of a selected area.

++3: Take a screenshot of the whole screen.

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ctrl+ Cycles through tabs in a web browser going to the right.

ctrl++ Cycles through tabs in a web browser going to the left.

+ Goes to the very bottom of a web page or textarea.

+ Goes to the very top of a web page or textarea.

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All of the shortcuts are my favorite!

Specifically (based on frequency of use) +H: Hide application

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