I have always used the help menu (command ⌘+shift ⇧+? /) to search the application menus for something that I don’t have a keyboard shortcut for (or don’t remember it).

A screenshot of a menu search using the Help menu

It’s an awesome feature, but it is annoying that it

  1. searches for other things too (help obviously).
  2. requires you to press the down arrow to select the first option.
  3. always shows up with the giant pointer thing pointing to the menu item.
  4. is sometimes slow as it looks for (online) help topics.

Is there an app that can do this better, or a defaults write to make the Help menu work the way I want it to?

Sidenote—it would be nice if I could exclude certain things like Safari history.

3 Answers 3


You can do this with Alfred Powerpack and Key Clue workflow. This way you can search the command in the Spotlight like behavior (while providing you with all the visible shortcuts). In fact, you can use Command+<Number Key> to quickly choose the command from search result.

Alfred Key Clue

I’ve actually written the similar post before, but using another workflow called Menu Bar Search, these days I use Key Clue as my primary workflow to search menu bar items.

P.S. Alfred has a built-in feature to search Safari bookmarks, but you can also develop the Key Clue workflow further to include Safari browsing history/bookmarks.

  • I'm probably switching to Alfred (quicksilver is becoming slow) and buying the Powerpack soon but I was wondering if you could assign a hotkey to launch the workflow, like Option-Space as I have for the QS plugin, instead of a keyword to type in after ⌘+Space.
    – 0942v8653
    Apr 24, 2014 at 12:34
  • Yes, you can do it with Key Clue.
    – sayzlim
    Apr 24, 2014 at 14:27

For Quicksilver users—exactly what I was looking for.

Here is an (old) Gigaom post about it.

It can be activated with a trigger key (mine is Option-Space) and then you can just type the menu item’s name in.

Screenshot of plugin

You can install the plugin in Quicksilver’s plugins pane.

Thanks to sayzlim, I found it through an Alfred Forums link in his blog post.

* Quicksilver is a search application much like Alfred but FOSS. I use it only because half the features in Alfred have to be bought.


The app I prefer for getting a quick list of keyboard shortcuts is CheatSheet - free, quick and reliable:

enter image description here

It only shows you menu items that have key shortcuts, but is a one stop - install and go type of tool that you don't need to learn how to use.

  • I considered getting CheatSheet, but what I really need is a search feature. Looking at a list of shortcuts is going to slow me down much more than pressing the Help menu would compared to what I want. It sort of defeats the purpose if I have to assign a keyboard shortcut for each little “Educate Quotes” option that I almost never use. I just want to eliminate mousing through the menus.
    – 0942v8653
    Apr 18, 2014 at 15:07
  • Aah - I haven't found an app to do that since most SSD based macs are quite snappy with the built in help. Let's see what others can suggest.
    – bmike
    Apr 18, 2014 at 15:39

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