I want to set to open a folder in finder with Enter.

I know it's possible to open a folder with ⌘ Command + ↓ Down Arrow but I don't like it and I never use it because it's easier to use the trackpad, but enter would be the easiest way.

I tried to set it trough the keyboard shortcuts but I can't do it.


7 Answers 7


Any person new to Apple and Mac would find lot of things un-intuitive or just forced on the user, w/o any options to change it. Or it might be that just many of us had their first experiences on Win/Linux systems.

But just found this plugin to finder XtraFinder which among lot of other options allows you to ENTER/RETURN to open a file.

Feeling a lot relieved now! Hope it helps.

enter image description here

  • 9
    XtraFinder is a great app, but it no longer works on El Capitan unless you disable System Integrity Protection. A solution that does work on El Capitan is Karabiner (formerly known as KeyRemap4MacBook). Simply install Karabiner and then scroll down in its settings window to For Applications / Enable at only Finder / Windows Explorer Navigation for Finder and turn on Use Return as Open. There are a few different options there to set another key to Rename. I like Use F2 to Rename to make Finder consistent with Windows Explorer. Dec 27, 2015 at 23:19
  • 3
    @MichaelGeary Why not make this an answer? Jun 13, 2016 at 5:12
  • I disabled SIP gladly and installed XtraFinder. Jun 26, 2017 at 23:23
  • Karabiner doesn't work on macOS Sierra 10.12.6
    – Brian
    Oct 14, 2017 at 1:51
  • 1
    @Rib47 Please post a separate answer for Karabiner if necessary. Comments will disappear sooner or later, and the answer here is recommending another tool
    – nohillside
    Sep 30, 2019 at 11:25

As I know you can not set it to enter in a normal way (but maybe exist some tricky way) but you can change open shortcut by going to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts tab from the left window choose Application Shortcuts and press + to add new shortcut then find Finder in Application and choose Open in Menu Title and press any desired shortcut in textbox.

alt text

  • 3
    this answer does not help because it does not allow entering just 'Return' key as shortcut Jan 25, 2021 at 9:15

PresButan (Mac OS X 10.4.x-10.7.x): An idiotically named solution to a spectacular UI oversight (rather apropos, eh?).
It also lets you use either the backspace or delete key to delete files.

I can confirm it works (just installed it). Apparently it leverages the accessibility system and uses a daemon to catch the return events.

If you are on 10.3-10.5, you also have the option of using ReturnOpen.

  • 2
    I'm pretty sure it's not a UI oversight as it was done deliberately.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 20, 2011 at 18:10
  • 6
    Ok, so it was deliberate. Then the inability to change the setting is a UI oversight. In either case, it's idiotic.
    – Fake Name
    Jun 21, 2011 at 10:35
  • 3
    I disagree. Not everyone expects or wants enter to open folders in the finder. Renaming folders is convenient with enter; using command + arrows for navigation makes sense and is easy. In list view, what's the "opposite" of enter? How do I get out of the folder? With command-up: open parent, command-down: open folder, it makes sense and is symmetrical. People who insist that it is "wrong" or "idiotic" are simply used to another OS.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 21, 2011 at 14:04
  • 4
    @ghoppe - Christ, did you read my comment? I additionally specified that the inability to change the setting is the really stupid thing. Also, the inverse of enter is backspace, as it has been since long ago. Apple is the one who decided we needed two delete keys, which still doesn't make much sense to me.
    – Fake Name
    Jun 22, 2011 at 0:12
  • @Fake Name Sorry, I guess you have a non-standard usage of the phrase in either case which I am unfamiliar with. Mac conventions (in the Finder) are that command shortcuts use the command key. This is in my view a good thing, it allows you to edit names without modal worries. Not allowing non-command key shortcuts seems to me to be a pretty minor shortcoming. Having multiple options to use other OS conventions is a big can of worms to open. I'm fine with third-party utilities for this.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 22, 2011 at 19:02

You could also use KeyRemap4MacBook, but it would make pressing return open items even in rename mode. And there are a lot of other places besides Finder where return renames items and other key combinations open them.

If you don't use a QWERTY keyboard layout, change KeyCode::O to KeyCode::CURSOR_DOWN:

  <name>Use Return as Open</name>
  <autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::RETURN, ModifierFlag::FN, KeyCode::RETURN</autogen>
  <autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::RETURN, KeyCode::CURSOR_DOWN, ModifierFlag::COMMAND_L</autogen>
  • To finish renaming a file without opening it, you can change your habit to press tab instead.
    – user163629
    Oct 10, 2020 at 9:01

Edit: Well crud, got halfway through typing this up and then found that Karabiner doesn't work on Mac OS 10.12+. They are working on Karabiner-Elements but it's still pre-alpha.

These instructions still work for 10.11 and lower though:

Karabiner was easier than the top answer here because you don't have to make a System Integrity Protection exception (El Cap).

  1. Install app from here: https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/

  2. Open Karabiner with Spotlight Search (Cmd+Space)

  3. In Karabiner search menu (upper left): "use return as open"

  4. Check the box

  5. Option-click on Finder in taskbar, Relaunch it.


For anybody looking for this in 2018: use BetterTouchTool to make the Enter key simulate ⌘ Command + ↓ Down Arrow key press.

  • The upvote was not for the tool, but for the hint how you actually enter a folder using key presses :D
    – Hannes
    Nov 11, 2020 at 8:35

ControlOptionSpace serves as an Enter key

Also enabling voice over for when you need to navigate, helps a lot too

  • 2
    ctrl+alt+space serves as an Enter button except that it doesn't (at least not on my Mac). Also, the OP explicitly asks for enabling the Enter button.
    – Glorfindel
    Nov 6, 2017 at 8:11

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