I can't seem to find a shortcut for launching the activity monitor. Does it have one?


9 Answers 9


Save in AppleScript Editor and assign a shortcut in FastScripts or some other way:

tell app "Activity Monitor"
    reopen -- makes a new window if there are no existing windows
    activate -- brings the app to front
end tell
  • 1
    Is there a way to change this script so that the Activity Monitor window opens up in a normal size (i.e. not maximized).
    – Berk U.
    May 12, 2014 at 15:03

Not by default, but you can create one in System Preferences --> Keyboard --> Keyboard Shortcuts. Or you can use spotlight:

  • type + space

  • start typing "activity monitor"

  • as soon as activity monitor is highlighted in the spotlight list, hit return

  • 3
    Sadly, I don't believe System Prefs can set keyboard shortcuts to launch apps.
    – Dori
    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:43
  • @Dori: wow, you're right. That's what I get for assuming... I've seen the application shortcuts section in keyboard shortcuts and assumed it would allow me to create one for launching an application. I just never tried it since I always use spotlight. I struck through that text in my answer since it's incorrect. Good catch. Sep 14, 2010 at 2:27
  • The (global) AppleScript menu used to let you launch Apps via keyboard shortcut, but Apple took that capability out years ago. Mar 3, 2016 at 18:13

Create in Automator an Action to launch Activity Monitor:

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Then in System Preferences -> Shortcuts Tab -> Services set a keyboard shortcut for the created service:

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  • Unfortunately, Activity Monitor is grayed out when trying to select it in Automator's Launch Application. Is there something I missed from the 1st screenshot? This is on Monterey (12.6) on an M1 MBA.
    – ikjadoon
    Oct 5, 2022 at 13:29

Otherwise of Spotloight that @Calavera suggest you can use 3rd-party software such as:

  1. QuickSilver
  2. Namely
  3. TigerLaunch
  4. HimmelBar
  5. LaunchBar

I myself use QuickSilver and set shortcut +space to run it and type some part of "Activity Monitor" and press so Activity Monitor will run.

alt text

  • 1
    Add to that list LaunchBar, personally I prefer typing just ac to launch the Activity Monitor.
    – ase
    Sep 14, 2010 at 21:34
  • Tho' I prefer LaunchBar over QuickSilver, both can launch Activity Monitor by simply typing ‘ac’, it’s a matter of training. :) Nov 5, 2010 at 1:54
  • 1
    I think Alfred is the best.
    – JFW
    Sep 28, 2011 at 11:12
  • You may want to add Spark.
    – daviesgeek
    Sep 30, 2011 at 0:36

For starting apps, scripts, etc. with a single shortcut, there exist some specific tools.

  1. NuKit - free trial, download from MacUpdate or their site.
  2. Apptivate - 2.0 is no longer free and as of now, it's unfortunately traded usability for eye candy.

Apptivate offers to switch away from apps with the same shortcut. The NuKit team promised to add it soon.


You can use System keyboard shortcuts, Services and Automator to do this. See my answer to a similar question here


A simpler way is using aliases. Most pro users use them pretty frequently and I have one for launching Activity Monitor as well.

Even on macOS Big Sur my default shell is bash and not zsh. Put the following line in ~/.bash_profile file: (I switched to zsh finally. All of my bash aliases worked fine except for the ones containing special characters. I just added a \ in front of the special characters to escape them and then it all worked as expected.)

Put the following line in ~/.zshrc:

alias am="open -a activity\ monitor"

Now, all you have to do is type am in Terminal, press enter, and it opens Activity Monitor.

FWIW, here's other aliases too that I have in my ~/.zshrc that have incredibly improved my ability to use macOS:

#####  ----------  File Access Commands....  ----------

alias ll="ls -lahG"
alias co="curl -O"
alias editsh="nano ~/.zshrc;source ~/.zshrc"
alias mv="mv -iv"
alias cp="cp -iv"
alias cll="clear;ll"
alias ..='cd ..'
alias ...='cd ..\..'

#####  ---------  Git Commands  --------
alias gtalias="alias | grep \"^alias gt\""
alias gts="git status"
alias gtd="git diff"
alias gtpull="git pull"
alias gtlog="git log"
alias gtc="git checkout"
alias gtcmas="gtc master"
alias gtb="git branch"
alias gtpush="git push"
alias gtst="git stash"
alias gtstpop="gtst pop"
alias gtstapply="gtst apply"
alias gtstsv="gtst save"
alias gtstli="gtst list"
alias gtctall="git commit -a"
alias gtmm="git merge origin/master"
alias gtsu="git submodule update"
#### Application & Web Access Commands - 1

alias int="open -a IntelliJ\ IDEA\ CE"
alias slk="open -a slack"
alias am="open -a activity\ monitor"
alias rdc="open -na Microsoft\ Remote\ Desktop"
alias smc="open -a Cisco\ AnyConnect\ Secure\ Mobility\ Client"
alias rdt="s https://www.reddit.com/"
alias frdt="ff https://www.reddit.com/"
alias mu="osascript -e \"set volume output volume 0\""
alias fv="osascript -e \"set volume output volume 100\""

alias tv="open -a tv"
alias cln="open -a clion"
alias mail="open -a mail"
alias keys="open -a KeyChain\ Access"
alias ss="open -a screen\ sharing"
alias dul="open -a disk\ utility"
alias maps="s https://maps.google.com"
alias map="open -a maps"

alias msg="open -a messages"
alias ft="open -a facetime"
alias pref="open -a System\ Preferences"
alias tpb="ffp https://thepiratebay.org/"
#### Application & Web Access Commands - 2
alias ntw="open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Network.prefPane/"
alias dsp="open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Displays.prefPane/"
alias pdf="open -a preview"
alias ppt="open -a Microsoft\ PowerPoint"
alias pages="open -a pages"
alias knote="open -a keynote"

alias news="open -a news"
alias P="open -a photos"

alias c="open -a google\ chrome"
alias cprv="c --args --incognito"
alias intn="open -na IntelliJ\ IDEA\ CE"
alias v="open -a vlc"
alias nv="open -na vlc"
alias s="open -a safari"
alias ns="open -na safari"
alias m="open -a music"

alias sto="s $stck"
alias csto="c $stck"
alias fsto="ff $stck"

alias yut="s https://www.youtube.com/feed/history"

alias dict="open -a dictionary"
alias wiki="s https://en.wikipedia.org"
##### Machine Admin Commands

alias apon="sudo networksetup -setairportpower en1 on"
alias apoff="sudo networksetup -setairportpower en1 off"
alias apc="apoff;apon"
alias apc-="apon;apoff"
alias rshut="sudo shutdown -r now"
alias hshut="pmset -g batt;sudo osascript -e \"set Volume 0\";brt 0.01;sudo shutdown -h now"
alias sshut="sudo shutdown -s now"

Side Note: To learn how to migrate your aliases from bash to zsh, see this.


You can you use BetterTouchTool to create keyboard shortcuts and even use the trackpad to create a gesture instead of keyboard shortcuts.

  • Also custom touch bar shortcuts as well. Jun 16, 2018 at 22:35

Hammerspoon is my favorite and is probably the most easiest to install and configure. Here is the init.lua code for launching the Activity Monitor.

hs.hotkey.bind({"cmd","shift"}, "Escape", function()
   hs.application.open("Activity Monitor")

PS: I mapped my command key to control. So by mapping the hotkey to "cmd+shift+escape", I get similar functionality that I get in Windows(for opening the task manager)

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