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What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts on Mac OS X?

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36 Answers 36

⌘+z [undo] is my favorite & the one I tell the people I support to remember if they only learn one shortcut. In Finder it undoes the last operation you just performed from inadvertently beginning to rename a file or folder; or undoing an unintentional drag and drop of a file or folder into the wrong folder or undoing a move to trash operation. In applications many have multiple levels of undo which lets you step backward undoing previous edits or draws. Extremely useful in extricating yourself from sticky situations or just after having made a simple mistake.

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Not wholly keyboard shortcut, but holding down the Option key () and bringing up a system menu often provides extensive information. For instance if you are connected to wifi, hold down and clicking on the network menu will bring up a lot of information (MAC address, IP address, signal strength, et c.) about the current network connection.

Holding and clicking on the notification icon also sets your notification status to "Do not disturb"---rather useful when discussing something on your screen with colleagues and you don't want to see Messages popping up.

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In Finder, ++P brings up the full path. If you then hit +C in Finder, you can paste the full path of a file or folder into your Terminal or elsewhere by +V.

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+alt+shift+V pastes plain text, SUPER useful for copying from web pages or MS Word into email, and leaving the weird formatting behind.

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

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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

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All of the shortcuts are my favorite!

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

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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 AWESOME. And SO MUCH better than Ctrl+Shift+G or whatever it is... (hence why it's so much better). I wish I could up-vote you 230986 times! – Jason Salaz Feb 1 '11 at 17:53
This is also works with "~" – Sridhar Ratnakumar Apr 5 '11 at 4:00
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

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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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

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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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
PS: There's a list of all Mac OS Keyboard Shortcuts available at – intlect Aug 18 '10 at 13:41
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
Depending on you keyboard and key bindings, you might need to press Ctrl + function (fn) + F2 – zevlag Feb 7 '11 at 16:56
Ctrl-f3 gives you access to the dock – Samantha Catania Sep 3 '11 at 9:16

++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
Changing the 4 to a 3 makes an image of the whole screen immediately (no mouse selection) if you're into that kinda thing. – drfrogsplat Oct 23 '12 at 4:38

++.: 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

+space: activate spotlight.

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

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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

++N: Create a new folder in Finder

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++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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  • 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

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

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+C: Copy selection

+V: Paste selection

+X: Cut selection

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

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