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?

  • 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, 2013 at 0:21
  • 1
    @alexwlchan I don't quite follow. I'm trying to select zero files, not all files. Nov 10, 2013 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, 2013 at 5:33
  • 2
    @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, 2013 at 9:06
  • 2
    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. Nov 11, 2013 at 22:20

5 Answers 5


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).

  • Why was this downvoted? It is the correct answer. + + A = Deselect All in Finder. Nov 14, 2013 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. Nov 15, 2013 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, 2014 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.

  • 1
    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, 2014 at 12:10
  • 2
    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. Jan 12, 2014 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, 2014 at 9:02
  • 1
    Found a more critical issue: when dragging a file you can't escape if you change your mind. Basically you have to drop the file back into its source window or risk dropping it somewhere you don't want it to go. I think I'll have to deactivate the shortcut and revoke the 'accepted' status from this answer. Sorry about that. I appreciate your efforts. I wish Apple would just fix this. Jan 16, 2014 at 16:47
  • 2
    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, 2014 at 22:31

Please check Keyboard Maestro… :)

Escaping Finder selection with Keyboard Maestro

  • 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. Apr 17, 2014 at 9:37

As a solution to this Problem I use the following AppleScript:

tell application "Finder"
    if selection is [] then
        tell application "System Events" to key code 36 using control down
        set selection to []
    end if
end tell

The script implements the following logic:

  • If there is no file or folder selected in Finder then this script tries to escape from a possible rename operation if there is one (beeps if there is none).
  • If there are files or folders selected in Finder then this script deselects them.

I use FastScripts from Red Sweater Software to remap the escape key in Finder to this script. FastScripts installs a script menu in the menubar and is free for use with up to 10 scripts.

With both parts together the behaviour of the escape key is similar to the escape key behaviour in older macOS versions.


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

PS thanks for the + + A

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