What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts on Mac OS X?

  • Putting only one shortcut (or a couple of related ones) in each answer will make the poll more useful.
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 11:14
  • Noting, of course, that all of these are fully customizable.
    – msanford
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 14:58

36 Answers 36


ctrl+F2: Access the menu via the keyboard (Windows alt+space equivalent).

  • 1
    +1 - This tip alone has just totally justified getting involved in the beta. I don't know how I haven't found this previously, but I have often wanted to access the menu without a mouse.
    – robsoft
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 8:20
  • 8
    PS: There's a list of all Mac OS Keyboard Shortcuts available at support.apple.com/kb/ht1343
    – intlect
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 13:41
  • 2
    And then you can move around the menus with the arrow keys, press Enter to expand a menu, and again Enter to run a command.
    – intlect
    Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 5:57
  • 5
    Depending on you keyboard and key bindings, you might need to press Ctrl + function (fn) + F2
    – zevlag
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 16:56
  • 1
    Ctrl-f3 gives you access to the dock Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 9:16

Typing / on any file dialog will give you a "go to folder" dialog, which autocompletes with tab (you have to wait a second for it to work). This lets you type in the full path, from the root / folder.

Extra handy if you want to open from / save to hidden locations or already have the command line path you want to save something in.

This can be also accessed via ~ (i.e. the tilde key, to start from your home directory, e.g. ~/Documents) or using cmd+shift+G (which starts with the most recently entered directory).

  • 1
    THIS IS AWESOME. And SO MUCH better than Ctrl+Shift+G or whatever it is... (hence why it's so much better). I wish I could up-vote you 230986 times! Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 17:53
  • 2
    This is also works with "~" Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 4:00
  • 1
    I've never been more excited about a forward slash. I'll try and fail to express my excitement about this shortcut to my wife when I get home.
    – OrangeBox
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 3:45

+space: activate spotlight.

Then you can launch any application, open most files, do quick calculations, etc.


++4: selective screenshot saved on desktop

++ctrl+4: selective screenshot saved in clipboard

  • 12
    As an add on: Cmd+Shift+4 and then a space converts the mouse pointer into a "Camera". Clicking on a window with this "Camera" pointer creates a screenshot of only that window.
    – Nivas
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 10:54
  • 1
    Changing the 4 to a 3 makes an image of the whole screen immediately (no mouse selection) if you're into that kinda thing. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 4:38

++.: show/hide hidden files on any file dialog

  • 3
    Good one! I wish this shortcut also worked in finder windows.
    – Senseful
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 21:09
  • @Senseful You can set the AppleShowAllFiles key in com.apple.Finder to true to enable this in the finder. Then restart the finder.
    – tbodt
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 23:19
  • I couldnt get it to work, am I doing something wrong? I go to the relevant finder window and hit this shortcut
    – Esqarrouth
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 20:11

+: Cycle through running apps

+`: Cycle through windows for current app

+W: Close current window

+Q: Quit current app

+,: Preferences dialog for current app

+H: Hide current app (as long as it's not Photoshop)

ctrl++: Sleep all displays

  • 1
    I guess there isn't an alternative for the Sleep all displays for the new MBA's which don't have an eject button anymore? I've setup a Hot Corner which does this, but would prefer a keyboard shortcut.
    – DonnaLea
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 5:33
  • 1
    @DonnaLea, there is alternative. Press power button instead of eject. So it's Ctrl+Shift+Power. Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 3:37

Power keys:

Ctrl+: "Are you sure you want to shut down your computer" dialog message appears:

power dialog

Ctrl++: restart the computer

Ctrl++-: shut down the computer

++: puts the computer in sleep mode

+Ctrl+: puts the monitor in sleep mode

  • 1
    Thanks for Shift-Ctrl-Eject, I was looking for something like that. Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 11:30
  • Ahhh, thanks. I've been looking for ways to quickly turn off my computer.
    – Dante
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 18:04

Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Esc ⎋ brings up the force quit dialog, which is handy for killing unresponsive applications. Force quit applications

Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Shift ⇧ + Esc ⎋ held down for 5 seconds kills the foremost application.

  • I use it all the time!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 16:14
  • Awesome! How can I have not known about this my whole life? Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 3:42

++H: hide all inactive application windows

This is great for focusing on a single task or works well as a kind of show desktop if you switch to Finder first (providing you have few or no windows open)


++N: Create a new folder in Finder


ctrl+++8: High contrast theme.

+` (backtick): Cycle through app's windows.

  • I love ctrl-alt-cmd-8; we used to do that at all the computers to joke people, but if you're working at night it works well too.
    – Tom H
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 12:09
  • The kids in our school call it the x-ray mode.
    – ubiyubix
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 21:48
  • 3
    +1 for the cmd+backtick shortcut, I've wondered about such a command for a long time! Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 8:13
  • Cmd + shift + ´ on swedish layout
    – Zolomon
    Commented Jan 1, 2011 at 20:32

For me the life saving shortcut is the quarter increment/decrement of light/sound:

+ and the increment/decrement light or sound button.

It is extremely useful with LED Cinema Display monitors.

  • 2
    This doesn't seem to work (anymore?) on my late 2011 MacBook Air running 10.7.1. Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 4:19
  • I have not tried in 10.7 yet, but I would be surprised if it is not working. Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 7:31
  • Not working here on OS X Lion either.
    – bouke
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 13:30
  • 1
    It's working again in 10.7.4. Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:23
  • 1
    @IainDawson: It came back before, 10.7 is Lion and it's back since version 10.7.4. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 13:36

Here's a great one (for switchers) I got from the TextMate blog;

Create the folder ~/Library/KeyBindings (if it doesn't already exist) In there, create a key-binding file DefaultKeyBinding.dict In that file, put this text (including all braces & punctuation);

    /* home */
    "\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";
    "$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:";

    /* end */
    "\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfLine:";
    "$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";

    /* page up/down */
    "\UF72C"  = "pageUp:";
    "\UF72D"  = "pageDown:";

Save the file, and when you next start a Cocoa app (eg Mail, TextEdit etc) you will find that Home, End, Pg Up and Pg Down now work as they do on Windows.

It's well worth having a look at the whole of that article - he explains exactly how to make this file and how the bindings work, with information about the other keycodes etc.

  • 4
    I tried approaches like this for a while, but then got annoyed by the apps that didn't use the keybindings. It's probably better to get used to it. (You won't have it remapped on a school's, library's, or friend's Mac for example.) I switch between OS X, Windows, and Linux all the time and while it took a little getting used to each of them, spending the time has been worth it. Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 21:30
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    @Benjamin: I disagree. I've been using a Mac for 3+ years now and still haven't adjusted. I agree with the concept of adjusting (for instance, Cmd+c instead of Ctrl+c), but I think the home and end thing is just too much for me for whatever reason. Also, I'm not too concerned with how I will work on friend's or library's computers, since I spend >99% of my time on my own computer. +1 for an answer that changed the way I use my Mac! Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 14:57
  • 2
    @Benjamin: I also disagree. Having used Mac for 7+ years, I still prefer the Windows way for doing pageup/down and moving to end of line. Maybe because I use a "Win" keyboard (Razer BlackWidow) or maybe because I learned to use computer with DOS and later Windows 3.11. But in any case, my hands are used to the WinWay. :) Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 12:11
  • Cmd+Left = Home and Cmd+Right = End. Cmd+Up and Cmd+Down go to the top and bottom of the page, so not a replacement of page up and page down.
    – DonnaLea
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 5:41
  • I've found that Ctrl+A and Ctrl+E are generally a lot nicer to use than Cmd+Left and Cmd+Right, especially if you change your CapsLock key to Ctrl, and they work in Terminal too. Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 0:32

+E: Put selected text into search clipboard.

Then + G to find next. In combination with regular copy-paste you can do selective search and replace very quickly and conveniently.


++?: Help->Search, then type any menu item text, can be just a prefix

+E: put selected text in search dialog

+G and ++G: find next/previous

+++4: Take a screenshot, press space for whole window screenshot

ctrl + mouse scroller: zoom screen

++: sleep

  • You can use <kbd> to format keys. I've also added some HTML comments, because there's an unknown character in the last three (at least under Win7).
    – user3227
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 15:56
  • Thanks for the <kbd> tip :) I removed html comments, while it looks fine on my mac.
    – piobyz
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 16:06
  • you should separate the separate keys into different keys :P
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 1:12
  • ctrl+A: Go to the beginning of the line (works in every Cocoa textfield)

  • ctrl+E: Go to the end of the line (works in every Cocoa textfield)

  • ++H : Pop up the Home folder

  • ++D : Pop up the Desktop folder

  • 5
    The first two are the standard emacs keybindings, and you can use many of the standard emacs keybindings on (all?) Cocoa applications. ctrl+t is a favourite one: for transposing two characters. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 11:58
  • True. Nice one for ctrl-t !
    – Studer
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 12:24

Holding down the while booting to select the startup volume. Holding down C while booting to boot from a CD/DVD in the drive.

  • for anyone confused by this, 'startup volume' refers to the disk/partition to boot the OS from, not the sound level of the startup 'chime'! Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 4:43

While being in the application switcher (using +) cycle to an application by pressing or +; then - while still holding down - press the down arrow to see an expose view of the selected app´s windows, including minimized windows. Using the arrow keys navigate to a window you want to bring to the foreground and hit to select it.


In a text area:
Command ⌘ + the end of the line (like End)
Command ⌘ + the beginning of the line (like Home)
Option ⌥ + jump forward one word
Option ⌥ + jump back one word


+W: Close window (or tab).
++W: Close all windows.


++4+space+click on a window copies the current window to the desktop.

This is very useful while taking screenshots without the need to crop. The rounded edges stay rounded. Use this with ctrl to copy the image to the clipboard.


+: Cycle through applications.

+`: Cycle through the current application's windows.

: Auto fill commands and file/directory names in Terminal.

++4: Take a screenshot of a selected area.

++3: Take a screenshot of the whole screen.


+C: Copy selection

+V: Paste selection

+X: Cut selection


All of the shortcuts are my favorite!

Specifically (based on frequency of use) +H: Hide application


fn+F3: show all windows (in the current Space)

fn++F3: show the desktop

fn+ctrl+F3: show the "current application" windows

fn++F3: show the Exposé preference pane


shift+F12 or F11 - change sound volume without 'bip' sound


+alt+shift+V pastes plain text, SUPER useful for copying from web pages or MS Word into email, and leaving the weird formatting behind.


Not wholly keyboard shortcut, but holding down the Option key () and bringing up a system menu often provides extensive information. For instance if you are connected to wifi, hold down and clicking on the network menu will bring up a lot of information (MAC address, IP address, signal strength, et c.) about the current network connection.

Holding and clicking on the notification icon also sets your notification status to "Do not disturb"---rather useful when discussing something on your screen with colleagues and you don't want to see Messages popping up.


Zoom shortcuts, very good for presentations:

fn+++8: turn on/off zoom

fn+++=: zoom in

fn+++-: zoom out


ctrl+ or ctrl+ to move between Mission Control spaces (in Lion).

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