I am trying to keep my fingers on the keyboard as much as possible and would like to be completely mouse-free in some applications, such as Sublime Text. E.g., I can initiate a file opening or closing using just the keyboard but I do not know how to navigate close or open file dialogs using the keyboard alone. More specifically, how do I switch between selected buttons? E.g. tabbing works in other OSs I am familiar with (e.g. Windows and Linux KDE) but here I cannot tab between Save and Cancel buttons when I want to close a file.

3 Answers 3


Using the tab key between save and cancel buttons works for OS X too. You only have to enable it:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Go To Keyboard
  3. Go to the tab Keyboard Short
  4. On the bottom of the window, set the radio button to "All controls":

Full Keyboard Access

From now on, when you see a OK/Cancel window the OK button is blue and can be pressed using the return key, and the cancel button has a outline which can be pressed using the space bar:


But the real trick is: You are now able to press the tab key to move the outline to another button and hit the space bar to press the highlighted button.

  • I did that I am able to shift selection but when I am on the "Do Not Save' button (i.e. when the button has a highlighted outline like your 'Annuleer'), the fully outlined button is still 'Save' so if I hit <kbd>Return</kbd> it still goes to Save
    – amphibient
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 18:20
  • 1
    Yes, the button pressed using the return key will always be the Save button in your case; you can't change which button is pressed using the return key. But you can press other buttons using tab and the space bar.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 18:23
  • that is kindof awkward but it worked
    – amphibient
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 18:43
  • 1
    You can often, but not always, use Cmd+[initial] to hit buttons. For example, if you close an unsaved file and are offered "Save" and "Don't Save," you can hit Cmd+S to save and Cmd+D for don't save. Works in most cases, AFAIK.
    – iynque
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 3:40
  • Alternatively, if you prefer to keep you Tab behave normally and would like it to select All Controls, then you can just press Alt+Tab. Most of times you don’t want Tab navigate through all the button on screen.
    – sayzlim
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 7:50

A common shortcut for a Cancel button is Cmd.. (i.e. Command and period a.k.a. full stop).

  • The command I see here is not Apple Period as intended, but Apple Hyphen. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 13:36
  • 1
    More commonly : Esc. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 13:36

Sublime Text 3 (OSX 10.10.5)

Enter = select highlighted option (e.g. "Open", "Save"...)

Esc = cancel dialog

Cmd+D = select alternate (outlined) option (e.g. "Don't Save"...)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .