If I:

  • open a PDF document in macOS Preview app,
  • hit commandF,
  • type a word to search in the popup dialog,
  • hit the return key,

…the first instance of the searched word will highlight in yellow.

How then, from the keyboard (rather than by mousing my pointer to the “Done” button), do I cancel this search and remove that highlight? The esc key only produces the error/failure sound.

  • Besides hitting the Escape key? Aug 18, 2021 at 2:16
  • Hitting the escape key only produces the funk sound.
    – 2540625
    Aug 18, 2021 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


I've found two ways. Both are kind of ugly...

...but first, it's important to note that there are two interface styles for the find action: what you are describing is a mode that is used when the window is rather narrow: a popup at the center of the window asking for the search string.

There's a different mode where the search input is in the toolbar. That mode is used whenever there is enough space in the toolbar.

So, that leads to the first method: make the window wide enough to accommodate the second mode. Because that makes ESC work as expected, and as implied by Marc's incredulous comment.

Here's a second way to do it, in case you are working on a 4:24 aspect ratio portrait mode display, or just feel that preview doesn't deserve those pixels: after entering the find mode, hit COMMAND+E. This will somehow change to the toolbar-style find mode, and you can hit ESC from there.

All tested on Monterey Beta.

  • 1
    I would add customizing the toolbar to remove unused items as a third solution (and the route I’m taking). It seems the command behavior depends more specifically on the size of the Find tool, which itself depends on the window width and the number of toolbar items. Thank you for elucidating this unintuitive interface.
    – 2540625
    Aug 18, 2021 at 16:47

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