In my job I teach a lot of people to use macs. Since you use what you remember I'm always on the look out for funny or memorable ways to remember keyboard or system shortcuts (like you have the option to command escape, I know it's corny, but it works for newbies!).

What are the mnemonics you use to remember important keyboard or system shortcuts? Funny is a bonus.


Sorry I've been away for a bit and haven't updated my question for a bit. A bit more info - I'm teaching a digital class of 8,9 and 10 year olds (who have a MacBook each) this year; and I'm looking for funny ways for them to remember the things you commonly do on your mac. Kids love learning shortcuts (for some reason) and any thing I can do to help them build confidence and have a laugh is great.

Here are the shortcuts that would be handy:

  • Force Quit (That was my example, you have the option to command escape).
  • Search (command space)
  • Command Tab
  • Expose (Four fingers down on the mouse pad!?)
  • Command ShiftK (Connect to a nearby server in finder)
  • Apple ShiftA for Applications
  • Anything else you might think is handy.

I know it's a bit of a vague question, I'm just looking for any fun and easy way to teach these shortcuts.

  • I don't understand your example, but I'm also not a new user. How about some examples of shortcuts/commands you haven't been able to come up with a mnemonic for yet? Jan 12, 2011 at 0:00
  • 2
    Not what you're looking for, but the memory made me smile: my son inherited a Mac about the time he started to learn the alphabet. He didn't have the fine motor skills required to click on a menu and hold the mouse button down while dragging, so instead I taught him to use command keys—which had the side effect of him learning his letters (tricksy mom!). "A is for all, b is for bold, c is for copy, d is for duplicate…" :-)
    – Dori
    Jan 15, 2011 at 7:46
  • Which 'obscure shortcuts' are you looking for? General Mac, or something more specific like Photoshop? If you post a list of commands you want mnemonics for, it will be easier to help. Jan 16, 2011 at 23:46
  • Hey All, added an update that hopefully clarify things a bit!
    – glenstorey
    Jan 17, 2011 at 2:26

5 Answers 5


I've heard it remembered as 'space command'. Like you're the commander of a futuristic spaceship and you're talking to the computer, asking it to look for something or open something.
You're commanding the space ship. Press command-space to access Space Command.

  • Ha, brilliant. Kids will love it.
    – glenstorey
    Jan 17, 2011 at 4:30

Of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts, I've found that most new users find the ones for "cut" and "paste" are the most difficult to remember. Not difficult, though, if you think of the "X" for "cut" as a pair of scissors, and "V" for paste as "viscous".

But blindingly funny ones? Hmm, you've stumped me there...


"Very much long work causes injury just because stress yanks energy gradually."

moVe V very

Marquee M much

Lasso L long

Wand W work

Crop C causes

Eye I injury

Healing J just (Jesus heals)

Brush B because

Stamp S stress

HistorY Y yanks

Erasor E energy

Gradiant G gradually

Blur --

"Optimum practice teaches attention under hard rigor."

DOdge O Optimum

Pen P Practice

Text T Teaches

Select A Attention

Shapes U Under

Hand H Hard

Rotate R Rigor

Switch X (Exchange)

Default D Quick Mask Q Screen F (Full)


The most obvious mnemonic is really the first letter of the action wanted in combination with , e.g. -F for 'Find'. The hard part comes when that is reserved to some other command than the intended.

I'd suggest first learning the most used shortcuts (maybe just one or two) and start using them whenever possible. After a while, when those come right from the spine, form a habit of adopting a few new shortcuts every week or month, what seems to be appropriate rate for one. Gradually one knows a conciderable amount of shortcuts.

  • Thanks for your answer, I'm actually after funny mnemonics to help people remember obscure shortcuts (see the above example) rather than how to remember shortcuts.
    – glenstorey
    Jan 11, 2011 at 20:25
Command - F -- usually finds
Command - C -- usually copies
Command - V -- usually pastes
Command - F -- usually cuts
Command - Space -- spotlight, or I configured it to alfred
Command - Tab / Command - Shift - Tab -- Tab between open applications
Command - ` / Command - Shift - ` -- Tab between windows of current application
Command - T -- usually open a new tab
Command - W -- close current window / document
Command - Q -- quit current application

Command - [ -- history back (browser, finder)
Command - ] -- history forward (browser, finder)
Command - Shift - [ -- switch to previous tab
Command - Shift - ] -- switch to next tab

Ctrl - Left / Right -- Switch to different workspace left / right
Ctrl - Up -- Expose all windows of all apps
Ctrl - Down -- Expose all windows of current app

Without terminal commands thats what I use daily, no more. No less.

Terminal is much more fun:

Ctrl - C -- sigint
Ctrl - D -- sigterm
Ctrl - R -- search bash history
Command - K -- clear terminal screen and scrollback
Ctrl - A -- move cursor to start of line
Ctrl - E -- move cursor to end of line

I also use SizeUp with the following configurations

Ctrl - Option - Command - Up -- make window take up whole screen
Ctrl - Option - Command - Left -- make window take up left half of screen
Ctrl - Option - Command - Right -- make window take up right half of screen

To be honest, all my mnemonics are the letters/symbols with modifiers being what I want those to do:

  • [ = back
  • ] = forward
  • F = find
  • C = copy
  • V = paste (I can't spell so v is for paste)
  • X = cut (criss cross woot)
  • Left = left
  • Right = right

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