Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Your Mac

Ben Rush, Technical Consultant | April 3, 2017

Make your life easier when navigating a Mac by using shortcuts. These keystroke shortcuts will help reduce searching for key instructions and maximize productivity. (You’ll notice that many of them are similar to what you would use with a PC!)

Not sure what the shortcut modifier keys on a Mac are? Here’s a quick primer:

  • Command: These are the keys on either side of the spacebar on a standard Mac keyboard. They are represented by the ⌘ symbol. This is the primary key used for keyboard shortcuts.
  • Option: Also called Alt (like in Windows). This is a secondary modifier key often used for entering special text characters and is often represented by the ⌥ symbol.
  • Shift: You’re likely already familiar with this one, but it’s also used in a number of keyboard shortcuts as well. It’s usually represented as an upward pointing arrow symbol.

Most used Shortcuts:

  1. Command – A. Highlight all your text or items in the browser or add “Option” to the combination to deselect the text.
  2. Command – C and Command – V. Need to copy and paste outside a document? These two keystrokes still apply! The former will copy the selection and the latter will paste it.
  3. Command – D. Interested in making an exact copy of a particular file or folder in the Finder? Use this shortcut to duplicate it.
  4. Command – M. Don’t compromise your screen space, minimize your current application window to the dock with this easy combination.
  5. Command – W. Perhaps you don’t even want that page up. Instead of minimizing, use this keystroke to close the current window or tab.
  6. Command – X. This keystroke will simply get rid of excess data fast by cutting you highlighted selection.
  7. Command – Z. Not everything is permanent, well, at least not with this “undo” shortcut. Didn’t really mean to undo that last action? Command – shift – z will redo the action, or undo the undo if you will.
  8. Command – H. This comes in handy when you need to hide the windows of the front-most application. Command – Option – h will do the opposite by hiding except the front-most application.
  9. Command – F. One of the more popular combinations, this opens a Find (search) window in most applications.
  10. Command – Tab. Quickly switch between open applications on your Mac. Press command – tab to switch to the next open application via the onscreen app switcher. Hold command and keep tapping tab to cycle through the list. Need to go backward? Keep holding command and press shift tab to cycle in the opposite direction.
  11. Command – Space. Not sure where you put that file? Don’t know what it’s called? Use Spotlight search to find files or even text within some files. You can even look up words in a dictionary, find and launch applications and a lot more with Spotlight.

If you like using keyboard shortcuts and would like to try more, look at the menus of your most used applications. Next to many commands, you’ll see the symbols for its associated keyboard shortcut, and there are a lot of them!

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