A few releases of macOS (Mac OS X) ago, many native apps (such as Preview, TextEdit, etc) changed their closing dialog options from "Don't Save", "Cancel", and Save"…

"Don't Save" dialog

…to "Revert Changes", "Cancel", and "Save".

"Revert Changes" dialog

The former set of options is still available in most third-party apps, as shown in the first screenshot above.

"Don't Save" and "Revert Changes" do the same thing, but the former set of options can be activated from the keyboard via commandd, esc, and return, whereas the latter has no shortcut for "Revert Changes" (as far as I can tell).

Call me picky, but this renders the native apps nearly worthless.

Has anyone yet found a way to activate "Revert Changes" from the keyboard, rather than having to use the trackpad to click the button?

I've tried mashing various key-combinations into the keyboard. I've tried tabbing and option-tabbing. I've tried creating a keyboard shortcut for all apps in Syst Prefs. I wonder if there's something to enter into Terminal? And I'm not interested in changing the tab key to focus on all interactive elements. Thank you.

2 Answers 2


Your screenshot doesn't seem to show it, but for me [Revert Changes] has a blue outline...

enter image description here

...which means it can be activated with the Space Bar.

I literally just figured this out (even relative experts can learn something new every day!), but apparently it's been a feature of macOS for quite some time.

(BTW, to change which button is outlined (and therefore which button is activated by the Space Bar), use the Tab key.

  • I've just checked again (now on High Sierra), and I don't have a blue focus outline in this dialog, even after hitting tab, shift-tab, or option-tab.
    – 2540625
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 19:57
  • 2
    What's your setting under Syst Prefs / Keyboard / Shortcuts / Keyboard / Full Access? Text boxes & lists only, or All controls? Mine is the former.
    – 2540625
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 19:59
  • 1
    My El Capitan System Prefs don't have quite the path you describe, but here's what I have: (oops looks like comments can't have images. Imgur to the rescue) imgur.com/a/KM0gg Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 20:04
  • 2
    I think in the screenshot I included above the key is that at the bottom of the window I have "Full Keyboard Access" set to "All Controls" — which is what I realize you were saying a few posts up, it was just in a different place. So yep, "All Controls" may get you to the same "button outliner" I'm seeing. Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 20:10
  • 2
    Well, that settles that. :) I understand your preference. Wish I had another solution. Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 20:11

As of macOS 14 Sonoma at least, the former shortcut Cmd+D seems to work again: it triggers Revert Changes.

  • Not so for me, running 14.2 “Sonoma”.
    – 2540625
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 15:19

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