I often find applications that use conflicting keyboard shortcuts and it is difficult and time-consuming to determine which shortcuts are conflicting. Are there any applications or commands that can show in a human readable format all active shortcuts?

EDIT 1: This is NOT a duplicate of this question.

The suggestions to use KarabinerEventViewer simply do not display the application/command called on a given key combination.

The exact combination that I cannot determine is CMD+OPTION+/.

EDIT 2: Why is CheatSheet not suitable?

It simply displays an overlay with the keybindings for the application in focus. It also doesn't help for applications without a window (background apps). This doesn't help my use case as the keybinding I am debugging doesn't launch an application window. Think about how Spotlight or Alfred renders a search component for a given key combination.

  • I still struggle with your distinction saying CheatSheet isn't the answer to the question of getting a list of "all active shortcuts" - that's exactly what CheatSheet does. I define active shortcut as one you can type at one specific instant in time. Cheat sheet does that no matter what app is front most and has keyboard focus. What you're asking is to reverse engineer the entire key press routine in the OS if I understand why you aren't agreeing with the duplicate and the answer we all are providing even after the good clarifying edit from 4 November.
    – bmike
    Nov 14, 2018 at 12:58
  • please read closely: "This doesn't help my use case as the keybinding I am debugging doesn't launch an application window. Think about how Spotlight or Alfred renders a search component for a given key combination."
    – Peter
    Nov 14, 2018 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


Try the utility CheatSheet.

It appears that after downloading the utility, press the Command key a little longer than usual and you are then presented with the currently active keyboard shortcuts. Check out the software below

Example of CheatSheet


  • I am familiar with the program you mentioned and it is not what I am looking for.
    – Peter
    Nov 4, 2018 at 1:01

You can’t practically. Each potential app can change keybindings on demand and based on time, content, whimsy. So what you ask is for every arbitrary app developer to all agree to pre-document what functions they will code to change at runtime and ship and then have that documentation centralized in a machine datbase at the OS level (or at least collectively).

The best you can do is hope they don’t change and start cataloging items for the apps you care about most. The current apps like CheatSheet (one of my all time favorite utilities) can read the front most application active keybindings, but that’s it.

Sorry to have a pretty hard - no, this isn’t easily done, but that’s how things are designed.

  • Thanks bmike, I had a feeling this was the reality. Do you have documentation or a technical reference that confirms this?
    – Peter
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:54
  • @Peter I don't think Apple documents the API they decline to write. Apple certainly doesn't document the undocumented API either, but the developer documentation has good links on how what I describe works. Since code level support is off topic here, you might want to ask what API document this on a different site that allows coding / API quetsions.
    – bmike
    Nov 14, 2018 at 12:48

I encountered a similar issue. Something unknown was system-wide taking over a keyboard shortcut that is common in browsers and Finder (SHIFT+COMMAND+N in this instance).

No other open applications showed that they were even taking over that shortcut or even using it knowingly. So it was tricky to figure out what app was taking over the shortcut. Using the shortcut itself would do nothing, no matter which app was active in the foreground.

The best and most effective way I found for determining which application is taking over a keyboard shortcut is an app called ShortcutDetective, available freely from IrradiatedLabs.

I found it crashes quite a often, but it perfectly solved the issue of needing to find out what unidentifiable app was globally taking over a specific keyboard shortcut.

Here you can see it in action: enter image description here

In my case I was able to discover that an application that doesn't even show it uses the shortcut was taking it over. Presumably because of a bug.

Tools like CheatSheet and Keycue were of no use in figuring this out, as even if I brought the problematic app to the forefront, neither of these tools would show that it was assigning anything to the shortcut I was having issues with.


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