What are some gestures or shortcuts you use on a daily basis that you can't live without?

I've found the BetterTouchTool preference pane add on to be great for creating custom gestures on a per app or universal basis

  • This should be made community wiki Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 16:58
  • Thanks - I was going to do so, but didn't see a way when I was creating my 'question' Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 19:30

20 Answers 20


Sleep all displays:



Capture Screen shot:

++3 (captures entire screen immediately)

++4 (draw a rectangle to capture)

++4, then space (click a window to capture)

Add ctrl to any of the above to copy to clipboard, rather than saving a PNG to the Desktop.

  • Combine with cloudApp to insta-upload on the web and put the URL in your clipboard instead Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 14:05
  • 1
    Also use the ⌥ Option key to resize from the center, and the spacebar to move the selection before letting go.
    – jtbandes
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 8:43

Do it and don't ever tell the victim how to undo:

ctrl+++8 (only until Lion) (spoilers)

Couldn't possibly live without it, above all. It was fun while it was default... :-(

So, I'll add a handful of spoilers below on how it could still be done.

Unfortunately it now comes disabled. To re-enable it, find Keyboard Shortcuts Accessibility.

Or, after OS X 7, it won't be as smooth (even if you do practice positioning the mouse):

++F5 then select Invert Display colors (apple article)

  • hahahahaha was my reaction ;) how did you find out about it?
    – Alvar
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 14:39
  • @Alvar I'm a keyboard freak. When I first started using macs few years ago, moving from windows and missing some shortcuts, I went through System Preferences, Help files and Google looking for what was already available. I actually found it on the Help, tho it's also in SP -> Keyboard.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 14:44
  • I noticed that it didn't work if you have "unchecked" the help bar in the system settings. I have the swedish version so I don't now what it says in english, just guessing.
    – Alvar
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 21:04
  • @Alvar I have no idea what's that "help bar". Can you provide more relevant info? From that symptom alone, I don't think it has anything to do with the swedish version.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 22:54
  • My all time favorite keyboard shortcut!!!!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 2:25

Seems like a silly question for Stack Exchange, but here goes. And I'll be more realistic than most folks.

  • Two finger scroll
  • +Q (quits app)
  • +W (closes document/window)
  • space for Quick Look in Finder
  • space for play/pause in most media players
  • +C (copy)
  • +V (paste)

+ ~ to move between open windows in the current application

  • I can't find the "~" on my apple keyboard! :O
    – Alvar
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 14:38
  • It should be to the left of the 1 key :) Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 15:25
  • there is §¶° (normal, alt, shift)
    – Alvar
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 21:06
  • Ah, I guess it depends on your keyboard version. I'm referring to the standard North American English keyboard. It's called the Tilde if you want to look it up: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilde#Computing Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 21:53
  • 1
    On a UK Apple keyboard it's in the bottom left. The lowest row of letter keys is: {shift} ~ Z X C V etc. It can also be to the far right of L next to the enter key. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 18:44


(paste plain text, maintaining formatting of document you are pasting into) - if supported by the program

  • This is a huge benefit. Windows fails compared to the mac on this "feature" alone.
    – Jamie
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 5:38
  • @Jamie Ctrl+Shift+V is implemented in many applications on windows too.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:33
  • @Fake Name Really? Hmm. I'm using XP right now. Is this the case there? Because it doesn't work in Word.
    – Jamie
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:15
  • @Jamie - What version of word? This is a function implemented in individual applications, not an OS function. As such, it's really not valid to claim it's something special for OS X. I know LibreOffice/OpenOffice has this shortcut, because I use it regularly.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 5:29
  • @Fake Name Office 2007, and no dice. I don't have the opportunity to test this on W7 right now, but I haven't got any functionality out of it here. You may be right about the individual applications, but it functions in all the ones I've tried it on, which says something to Apple at least trying to keep things consistent. (TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Mail, maybe NeoOffice..?)
    – Jamie
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 13:43

With Quicksilver, I added a ton of keyboard shortcuts for programs and folders, such as:

  • ++P - Pictures
  • ++D - Documents
  • ++C - Google Chrome
  • ++T - Terminal
  • ++H - Current work folder
  • ++E - Root of drive
  • ++M - Movies

Ones I use most that are native to Mac:

  • +++esc - Force kill app
  • ++4 - Screenshot with saved jpeg on desktop
  • +I - Get info on file
  • +[ - Back
  • +] - Forward
  • + - Go into folder
  • + - Go out of folder
  • on file - rename file
  • How do you get the commands to appear with keys?
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 2:25
  • ⌘ + ⇧ + 4 saves a PNG, not a JPG, on the desktop.
    – Dan Ray
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 14:07

Three finger swipe left or right to move between tabs in my browsers.

Configured this universally through BetterTouchTool - it simply activates the appropriate keyboard shortcut


+ + = Empty trash.

There's something satisfying about hearing that trash emptying sound : )

  • 1
    Or, throw in the option key, and it won't even ask you if you're sure you want to empty it. ;)
    – Jamie
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 5:36

Hot corners

  • Upper left - show all apps
  • Lower left - show frontmost app
  • Upper right - show dashboard
  • Lower right - show spaces

Track pad gestures

  • Two-finger scroll
  • Four swipe up - show desktop
  • Three-finger swipe down in Google Chrome - show tab exposé

3rd party system

  • + - cycle through frontmost applications windows (using Witch)
  • +§ - show my Finder visor (using Total Finder)

Misc Apple

  • ctrl++K - switch keyboard layout (I regularly switch between Swedish and American)
  • ++volume button - raise/lower volume using 1/4 increments
  • +P - set in Keyboard Shortcuts to "Save as PDF..." which allows you to press cmd-p followed by cmd-p when using e.g. a web browser to print to PDF.
  • +/ - move caret back/forward one word
  • +/ - move caret to beginning/end of line

Misc Applications

  • ++T - undo close tab in Chrome
  • +space - Launch Bar
  • "Three-finger swipe down in Google Chrome - show tab exposé" - What?! Chrome does this? It's not working for me :(
    – John
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 3:40
  • I just upgraded my Chrome and I can't do it now either...
    – fnurl
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 10:13
  • Found it: osxdaily.com/2011/03/04/…
    – fnurl
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 10:15

+ , to open the current application's preferences. Works in practically every OS X app that has a preference pane.

By comparison, in Windows preferences don't have a common shortcut and the menu entry, typically labelled either "Preferences" or "Options", can be found pretty much anywhere in the menu hierarchy (although often it's in one of Edit, Tools or View). Command-comma was one of the things I really loved when I switched to OS X.


There are only a few I couldn't live without…

+\ <- Using visor, I've got terminal set to drop down from the top half of the screen. I use it very, very often

+ctrl+D <- Dictionary - works most of the places I need it to.

+space <- Spotlight - Invaluable.

I may be moving away from terminal, and towards iTerm2. iTerm2 has the same functionality built into it.


Let's see...

  • + space for bringing up Alfred
  • + for switching between open applications
  • + T to open a new tab in Safari
  • + + 3 to take a screenshot

No one seems to have mentioned the keymodifier very much!

+W Closes a window
+M Minimises a window

Throw in with these and it will apply the command to all windows in that application!

++W Closes all windows in current app
++M Minimises all windows in current app

Bonus tip: Hold to slow down practically all window animations (minimise, Exposé, etc).

  • 1
    Note: Holding down shift only works when you are performing the window management functions (minimise, etc...) with the mouse. E.g. <kbd>⌘ Command</kbd>+<kbd>Shift</kbd>+<kbd>M</kbd> does not work.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:28
  • What? No key symbols in comments?
    – Fake Name
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:28

+ to switch between open applications


Safari or Chrome

  • + + I : Send email containing current page's url + title as subject


  • Three finger click : middle click (the most useful)
  • Three finger swipe left : + + [
  • Three finger swipe right : + + ]

The three finger swipes, work in most apps which have tabs or tab-like interface i.e. Web Browsers, Terminal, iChat, etc



  • Rotate Right - ++]
  • Rotate Left - ++[
  • Threefinger Click - MiddleClick

The rotate right/left gesture is kind of like your twisting a bottle-cap on and off. I use this to switch between tabs if I'm just browsing the web.



three-finger-click: +W
two-finger-swipe-up: ++T

This makes closing and reopening tabs super easy. With a three-finger click I can close a tab, and a two finger swipe up I can reopen it. Quick access to tab history is great when you've got lots of projects happening in lots of windows.


I'd rather use KeyCue from Ergonis Software which helps me find all the shortcuts and gestures an app can have. Check it out here!

But my favorite commands remain + + F in the finder to create smart folders.

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