In macOS, one can select text quickly and precisely using shortcuts.

Pressing SHIFT and the arrow keys will select one character at a time ( ) or one line (, ) at a time. And pressing ALT and SHIFT in combination with the arrow keys will let you select each word at a time ( ) or from the insertion point to the very beginning or end of a document (, ).

an animated screenshot showing a large text selection done with ALT and SHIFT and DOWN arrow

However, I am having a hard time making it work on a larger document:

an animated screenshot showing a TextEdit document where large text selection with SHIFT and ALT and DOWN arrow doesn't work

Why isn't the shortcut working in the second situation?

  • 1
    you put a lots of nice work to make your question :)
    – Ruskes
    Aug 1, 2017 at 19:53
  • 1
    this is not an answer to your problem, just sharing alternative method I use. With cursor in front of the word, I double click to select that word, or triple click to select the whole paragraph. To select more, I place the cursor at the beginning of a word, then HOLD shift key, and click at the end of the selection.
    – Ruskes
    Aug 1, 2017 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


⇧ shift ⌥ alt selects to the end of the paragraph. This works in your first example because the document contains a single paragraph.

The correct combination for selecting to the end of the document is either ⇧ shift ⌘ cmd or ⇧ shift end, depending on that particular application’s shortcut for scrolling to the end of the document.

Correspondingly, selecting to the beginning of the document is ⇧ shift ⌘ cmd or ⇧ shift ↖︎ home.

And finally selecting to the start of the line is ⇧ shift ⌘ cmd , and to the end of the line ⇧ shift ⌘ cmd . Using ⌥ alt instead of ⌘ cmd selects the previous/next word, respectively.


I found out what I was doing wrong.

While working on the first document, I wrongly assumed that the shortcut to jump to the end of a document was SHIFT + ALT + , because this shortcut selects the text till the end of the line, and the document was just one long line that wrapped.

But the actual shortcut to select till the end of the document and bypass linebreaks is SHIFT + CMD + - not ALT.

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