I just installed a menubar application and would like to assign a global keyboard shortcut to one of its operations. Is there any easy way to determine if the key combination I want to use conflicts with an existing one? Do I need to look at each category in the Keyboard Preference pane?

I am running OS X 10.6.7.

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    Did you even manage to assign such a shortcut that works? I've just tried it, but I do not see an option for a global shortcut. I seems like you can only create Application Shortcuts that will work when currently working within that application. – gentmatt Dec 31 '11 at 8:50
  • What's the menu bar app? – Graham Perrin Nov 8 '13 at 8:05

You can check on the Keyboard shortcuts Preferences panes if the shortcut is alreaady attributed.

If it is, there will be a yellow sign with an exclamation mark to notify you that it's taken.

It might not take in consideration global shortcuts from other apps. But at least, you'll have native ones.

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  • are these really global shortcuts? they seem to work if the application is already selected (on top): a global shortcut is supposed to work even if that app is running in background – user61618 Mar 19 '14 at 10:39

Integral to the operating system

In Mountain Lion, the Keyboard pane of System Preferences is not well suited to viewing all keyboard shortcuts. You can view a few at a time, but critically:

  • there's no overview.

Side note: there should be feedback to Apple.

Third party apps

The accepted answer to View All Assigned Keyboard Shortcuts draws attention to KeyCue.


Whilst KeyCue does not show all keyboard shortcuts, it can present a reasonably good overview of system (and some other) shortcuts alongside application shortcuts.

With Safari 6.1 on my Mac, for example:

Whether KeyCue can be as effective with apps that use X11 (Inkscape, for example), and with your menu bar app: I don't know.

Planning to avoid conflicts

With a good enough overview, you can plan properly – for not just one new shortcut, but for a range of shortcuts in the months and years ahead. Avoid conflicts before they occur.

Observing conflicts

If a conflict does occur: Loïc Wolff's answer should be good for some but not all types.

(A shortcut set in your unnamed menu bar app might be in conflict with something, but not appear as a conflict in System Preferences … and so on.)

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  • + 1 for the side note: Side note: there should be feedback to Apple. Coming from Windows I found that MacOS/Unix is heavy on keyboard shortcuts, so it is a shame to not have a OS level, decent shortcut keys management scheme. – dnang Nov 18 '17 at 4:46

While there are various sites including Apple that list the default combinations, I'm not sure of any way of listing your own (including any changes you might have made). I'd say the handiest way is to try the combination you want and see if it does anything. If not, you should be good to go. If it does something, you'll need to change one or the other.

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