I use the cmdbackspace shortcut but in some applications fnbackspace seems to work as well. So which one it the delete hotkey in OS X El Capitan?

  • You need to clarify where in El Capitan, fn/backspace & cmd/backspace perform totally different functions.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:35
  • Do you want to know the key combo for file deletion or the "forward delete key" on the keyboard?
    – bot47
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


In a text editor…

Fn Backspace ← is the equivalent of Delete ⌦ for short keyboards without that key

  • Backspace ← deletes the character before the cursor.
  • Delete ⌦ deletes the character after the cursor.

  • Cmd ⌘ Backspace ← deletes the entire line before the cursor.

  • Opt ⌥ Backspace ← deletes the word before the cursor.
  • Opt ⌥ Delete ⌦ deletes the word after the cursor.

In the Finder…

  • Cmd ⌘ Backspace ← deletes the selected file(s).
  • Cmd ⌘ Delete ⌦ has no function.

A detailed description on this is available on this post https://superuser.com/questions/482771/difference-between-cmdbackspace-and-fnbackspace-keyboard-shortcuts-in-osx

To summarize:

  • The most commonly used key for deleting elements that can be selected in the user interface is Backward Delete since it's available without a modifier on all Apple keyboards. This applies to songs on a playlist, graphics in an image editor, deleting text boxes in Pages, etc.

  • The Forward Delete fn is mostly used for the same actions, so you can actually use both in an interchangable way for most applications, be it Numbers, Excel, iTunes, Photoshop, etc.

  • The combination is intended for actions that might have an immediate (unwanted) effect. One could indeed map trashing files and folders to a simple , but this could lead to accidental deletions. Finder uses the modifier as a safeguard. This also explains why iTunes will only delete a song without confirmation if you press the modifier.

  • This answer is as confused as the question.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:50
  • Much better - removed downvote :)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 11:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .