When I quit an application (e.g., Excel) with Command-Q, a dialog box pops up, asking me to select between don't save, cancel and save. I can hit Enter to select save, or I can navigate the mouse to don't save, but how do I get that without the mouse?

On Linux and Windows I can use Tab to switch between the 3 buttons.

What do I do on Mac OS X?

Excel for Mac 2011 (14.3.8)

I tried:

  • Tab
  • shift-Tab
  • control-Tab
  • option-Tab

No go.

  • I suggest you update to latest version 14.4.5 and use the ctrl-tab that was not working in the v 14.3.8!
    – Ruskes
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:29

3 Answers 3


The standard shortcut for "Don't Save" in the dialog you mention is command ⌘+Delete. The old shortcut, command ⌘+D, can be restored by issuing the following command in Terminal:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSSavePanelStandardDesktopShortcutOnly -bool YES

and to revert back,

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSSavePanelStandardDesktopShortcutOnly -bool NO

In Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, command ⌘+D seems to work by default (but the standard shortcut does not).

Basically, try either command ⌘+Delete for Apple or standard applications, and command ⌘+D if that does not work.

  • old shortcut? Cmd/D has been standard for as long as I've known. I've never heard of Cmd/del for 'don't save'
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 16:33
  • @Tetsujin Apparently Apple made a change with the release of 10.7 (Lion) back in 2011: mattgemmell.com/save-sheet-shortcuts-in-lion
    – nobody
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:42
  • hmm... makes sense... guess I never noticed at the time & spent a couple of years clicking don't save instead [I must honestly have just slept through the entire period... my best excuse]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:45

It's not the default behavior for tab–I read because someone at Apple felt tabbing "wasn't magical enough"–but in the Keyboard preferences, click the Shortcuts tab. Then select All controls to make the Tab key behave the way you want. Or just press control+F7 to toggle this.

because apple hates disabled people

If you are at the following dialog, just hit d...no key-combo necessary. enter image description here

  • Very useful tip. Maybe I'll finally be able to tolerate my Mac
    – Mathieu J.
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 0:01

Since Lion, the standard key command for Don't Save is Cmd ⌘ Backspace ⌫
Prior to that it was Cmd ⌘ D which some apps still respond to.


Ctrl Tab will switch between the options, which can then be actioned by hitting Spacebar , only if you have All Controls set in System Prefs > Keyboard > Shortcuts

enter image description here enter image description here

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