Say an application has a menu selection Export in the File menu. On mouse over, a sub-menu extends with the export options. Is there a way to make a keyboard shortcut for one of those nested selections?

I've already tried implementing the keyboard shortcut for Export, setting it to Command-E. However, this doesn't work, even though the Command symbol shows up next to Export.

Any help is appreciated

  • A similar question at Super User – Lri Jul 31 '12 at 5:08
  • This also helps you when you have a sub-menu item with the same name as a top-level menu item, or to disambiguate between menu items with the same name. I added a keyboard shortcut for iTunes to "Love" a track via ⌘⇧l, the menu item name Love was intermittently conflicting with something else, so defining it as Song->Love was necessary. – Jason Salaz Sep 12 '18 at 6:17

Since Mountain Lion you can assign keyboard shortcuts to nested menu items using the following format:


I found the answer in this post on the Apple Support Communities by the user macNtouch.

Please notice:

  • you have to insert the full path: partial paths will not work
  • you must not leave any space between the menu title and the arrow
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    Take note: you have to put in the full "path". Partial paths will not work! – o0'. Mar 13 '15 at 9:57

I realize this is an old thread but I was currently struggling with the same issue, in Filemaker Pro Advanced.

It turned out that if I put the shortcut in the "All Applications" section in System Preferences, instead of the Filemaker Pro Advanced section, it worked!!

This only applies to nested menu items. Non-nested works as they should (ie in the FM Pro Advanced section).

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MacNTouch's answer still works perfectly on High Sierra and Mojave. I wanted to set up a shortcut for printing checks in QuickBooks 2019 Mac, but just creating a keyboard shortcut for the submenu Checks… would place the shortcut on File Import Checks…

Using the whole path, File->Print Forms->Checks… now puts my ^P on the correct Checks… submenu. You must use the whole path and the arrows must be a hyphen and greater than, all with no spaces.

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If you want to assign a shortcut to the submenu you can just use the name of the submenu as it appears. So if I wanted to assign a shortcut to the default encoding in Safari, using "Default" is enough.

If however you want to assign a shortcut to a submenu that occurs multiple times, such as "My Folder" you can use: >Move To>Notes, in Lion at least. This no longer works in Lion.

You could also try to assign a shortcut using apple script like this:

tell app "System Events" to tell process "Terminal"
click menu bar 1's menu "Shell"'s menu item 1's menu "New Window"'s menu item "Pro" end tell

and then use these steps to generate an automator action:

  1. Open Automator and choose the Service template
  2. Add a Run Shell Script or Run AppleScript action
  3. Check that the values for accepted data types and application scope the are correct
  4. Paste the script and save
  5. Assign a shortcut in the Keyboard preference pane

If the shortcut for a service doesn't work at first, try running the service once by selecting it in the Services menu.

Credit for the automator answer goes to Lori,

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    Specifying the menu titles like >File>Duplicate no longer seems to work on 10.8. – Lri Jul 31 '12 at 5:17

Use "->"

Answered by MacNTouch at https://discussions.apple.com/message/20380162#20380162

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    What is the point of posting the exact same thing as Johan Kaving but a day later. – Tom Gewecke Jan 22 '13 at 20:58

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