I'm using OS X 10.11, How can I navigate through items on menu bar using keyboard, like press Alt + letter with underscored in Windows?

2 Answers 2


The Alt + Letter is a Windows things doesn't appear in OS X. There are two native options to navigate the menu bar. First, very quick, and intuitive, is a Mac universal shortcut Command()+? (which is: +Shift+/) which will take you to the Help menu. From there you can search whatever menu bar item you wish, and get the shortcut if one exists; just start typing. Help Menu

Second if you manually want to navigate the menu bar then, open System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Keyboard > Check and Set shortcut for Move focus to the menu bar. This way you can move focus and navigate using arrow keys. Move Focus

If you go to the App Shortcuts category in the same pane, you can also change the Help Menu shortcut to your liking.

Tertiary option would be, investing in a third party application to help you find/remember shortcuts faster. Personally, would recommend KeyCue. There are several others, just search on Google or App Store.

  • 1
    It seems like on newer versions of macOS, you can use Move focus to the menu bar with +F2. Jun 27, 2022 at 20:09
  • @NickMcCurdy there is, but I've not been finding that easy to remember (and it gets worse with a keyboard where F might not be the pressed event (brightness, volume etc, often are on those keys)). The options to get at help from this answer are much better, easier to remember, IMO
    – Toni Leigh
    Oct 6, 2022 at 8:57

See the official Apple Documentation: Mac keyboard shortcuts for accessibility features

Another helpful trick:

Using your keyboard with dialogs won't work by default. Pressing Control+F7 toggles this option. The setting can also be found in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Full Keyboard Access.

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