You probably use your computer every day without giving it a second thought, but there are lots of shortcuts that you could be using to get the most out of your time. Here are over 40 keyboard shortcuts you should be using in macOS.
Table of contents
- Video: 40+ macOS shortcuts you need to know
- Navigating apps
- Screenshot like a pro
- Document editing in Pages
- Web-browsing and Safari tips
- Finder shortcuts
- Better volume control
- 9to5Mac’s Take
Video: 40+ macOS shortcuts you need to know
Copy, paste, & more
To start off with the most common shortcuts you’re probably already familiar with: the copy and paste commands. Of course, Command + C will copy, and Command + V will paste. But you can also hit Command + X to cut, so you can paste the text where you want and the original text will be removed. Also, a better way to paste in many cases is with Command + Option + Shift + V. That pastes the original text but drops any of the formatting, like the size, font, or color. This is really handy for copying text off a website or somewhere else where the text is really stylized to make sure the text you paste fits in with what’s around it. This paste without formatting command is very likely to take the place of the standard paste command in most cases.
Copy & paste macOS shortcuts
- Command + C: Copy
- Command + V: Paste
- Command + X: Cut
- Command + Option + Shift + V: Paste without formatting
Now, what about navigation? If you’re going to open a new app, you might move your mouse up to the corner to click on that little magnifying glass, then start using the spotlight search, but a quicker way to do that is just to click Command + Space. That brings up the spotlight search so you can just start typing and you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard. Once you’ve opened up a few applications, switching through them is pretty easy – just hit Command + Tab and a blurb will pop up with all your active applications. You can hit the Tab key again, while holding Command, to cycle through them and select the app you want to bring the the front of the screen. Once you have that application you want up front, if you have a ton of other windows in the background, you could go and manually click the minimize key on all of them, but it’s far easier to just hit Option + Command + H, which hides every window other than the app up front. If you only want to close a few windows, rather than clicking on that little yellow circle, you can just hit Command + M to minimize the selected app to your dock.
Speaking of the dock, sometimes it can just get in the way, so hitting Command + Option + D will hide or reveal the dock. Those are some of the navigation commands I use most often, but there are two more I find pretty helpful. If you hit Command + Option + Escape, macOS will open the “Force Quit Applications” window. This can be incredibly handy if an app freezes or is using too much of your system resources, to get it closed so you can keep using your computer. Finally, to open up an application’s settings, rather than clicking the app name in the top bar and then choosing settings, you can just hit Command + Comma. That will pull up the settings so you can make any changes you need.
Navigation shortcuts in macOS
- Command + Space: Open spotlight search
- Command + Tab: Rotate through open applications
- Command + Option, H: Hide all windows except the front app
- Command + M: Minimize an app to the dock
- Command + Option + D: Hide or show the dock
- Command + Options + Escape: Force quit an application
- Command + Comma: Open preferences for the top application
Screenshot like a pro
Now, let’s talk about screenshots. There are a few different screenshot types on a Mac, but the simplest is just holding Command + Shift + 3. That will take a screenshot of your entire screen at one time. It will then pop into the bottom right corner of your screen, where you can click it to edit it, or just wait and it will save to your desktop. If you only want to capture a portion of your screen, don’t take a screenshot of your whole screen and crop it, just press Command + Shift + Four. Then you can select the portion of the screen you want in the screenshot, and it will save in the same way. Now, if you’re trying to capture just one window on your screen, there’s an easier way than trying to select exactly that window – just add the spacebar to that last command. So Command + Shift + Four – then you hit Space. Then you can click on the window you want to capture, and it will be a perfect capture of just that window and nothing else on your screen. Now there is one more step you can add to that depending on the screenshot you’re looking for. You’ll notice that last screenshot has a translucent shadow around it. If you want to get that screenshot without the shadow, you just hold Option while you’re clicking to capture that screenshot without the shadow. So Command + Shift + 4, then hit Space, then hold Option and select your window.
Just like screenshots, the software for screen recording is built right into your Mac, so if you want to record video of what’s on your screen, just hit Command + Shift + 5, and that will bring up your screenshot tools. You can then select to either record just a portion of your screen or your entire screen, and once you click it will start recording. Stop the recording with the stop button in the upper right corner of your screen. And while you’re at it, if you don’t like all your screenshots and screen recordings cluttering up your desktop, you can change where they save to. Just hit Command + Shift + 5 to bring up that menu. Then select Options, and at the top you can choose where you want it to save to.
Screenshot shortcuts in macOS
- Command + Shift + 3: Take screenshot of the full screen
- Command + Shift + 4: Select part of the screen to screenshot
- Command + Shift + 4 | Space: Screenshot a selected app
- Command + Shift + 4 | Space | Option + click: Take screenshot of the selected app without a shadow
- Command + Shift + 5: Record your screen
Document editing in Pages
With those system-wide shortcuts out of the way, let’s cover some important ones for specific apps – starting with Pages. You’re probably already familiar with some basic formatting shortcuts, such as Command + B to bold text, Command + I to italicize text, and Command + U to underline text. You can also make use of the built in dictionary by selecting a word and hitting Control + Command + D, and it will pop up a window with the dictionary definition and synonyms – pretty handy if your find yourself repeating the same words too often. And if you’re repeating those words too often, just hit Command + F and type what you’re looking for to find all the instances of that word in your document.
Once you’ve finished your writing and you want to back through it and find misspelled words, you don’t have to do it manually – just hit Command + Semicolon, which will bring you to the first misspelled word in the document. Hitting Command + Semicolon again will move the selection to the next word, and so on, cycling through all misspelled words. This last one is handy in Pages, but also in other apps, as it brings up the Character Viewer, where you can access all your emoji. When MacBooks lost the Touch Bar it was the easy access to emojis that I missed most, but hitting Control + Command + Space brings up that Character Viewer, so you can use emoji to your heart’s content.
Pages shortcuts in macOS
- Command + B: Bold
- Command + I: Italicize
- Command + U: Underline
- Control + Command + D: Show the definition of the selected word
- Command + F: Find and replace
- Command + Semicolon: Go to misspelled words
- Control + Command + Space: Open the character view (emoji)
Web-browsing and Safari tips
Let’s talk about Safari. With how much of the world is online nowadays, you probably spend most of your time in a browser, so these shortcuts could save you a fair bit of time. First up, to open a new tab, rather that clicking that plus button with your mouse, just press Command + T. If you accidentally closed a tab, and you want to reopen it, pressing Shift + Command + T will reopen the most recently closed tab. Similarly, if you closed a whole window with several tabs open, pressing Shift + Command + T will reopen all of those previous closed tabs just how you had them. When you’re moving on to your next website, just press Command + L and it will automatically select the URL in your address bar, so you can just type the URL of your next website.
Within Safari, there are several options for navigating backwards and forwards through webpages. Of course, you have the arrows in the upper left corner, but you can also just use Command + Left Arrow to go back a page, or Command + Right Arrow to go forward a page. Even easier than that, though – if you have a trackpad, you can just swipe to the right with two fingers to go back a page, or swipe to the left with two fingers to go forward a page.
When you’re opening a link, you can right click and choose “open link in new tab,” but it’s way easier to just hold Command and then click that link to open it in a new tab. And the last one for Safari specifically, just like in Pages, if you hit Command + F, you can search the webpage for a specific word or phrase – really handy when looking for the context of a quote when doing research.
Safari shortcuts in macOS
- Command + T: Open new tab
- Shift + Command + T: Re-open previously closed tab
- Command + L: Opens address bar
- Command + Left arrow: Go back a webpage
- Command + Right arrow: Go forward a webpage
- Two finger swipe, left to right: Go back a webpage
- Two finger swipe, right to left: Go forward a webpage
- Command + click: Open link in new tab
- Command + F: Find on page
On to Finder – it’s where you access all your files, so you should know how to use it to its fullest extent. Just like Pages and Safari, hitting Command + F will open up a search panel, so you can start looking through your documents. You can also use the same copy and paste commands – Command + C and Command + V. You can’t use the Cut command though; instead, you copy the original file and then paste it with the move command – Option + Command + V. In that same realm, hitting Command + D will create a duplicate of whatever file you have selected. Hitting the Spacebar will open QuickLook, which, as the name implies, gives you a quick look at whatever file you had selected and is even faster to use than macOS’s Preview. To see more information on a specific file, of course you could right click and select Get Info – or you can hit Command + I to pop out that info panel.
If you’re used to a Windows machine, you might have tried just pressing the Delete key to no avail. Instead, to delete a file, you have to hit Command + Delete – or, of course, you can right click and choose Move to Trash. Now, rather than interacting with files, there are a few commands within finder to open specific locations that I find really helpful. Hitting Command + K will open up the prompt connect to a new server. If you have a NAS on your local network the didn’t pop up automatically, this is a simple way to get it connected. Otherwise, hitting Shift + Command + K will open up the network window where visible network devices will all show up. Within the Apple ecosystem you don’t need to do network transfers, though, so hitting Shift + Command + R will open up the airdrop window so you can easily send files to other Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Hitting Shift + Command + C will open the computer window, where you can see your main storage, any connected storage devices, and your network. Hitting Shift + Command + D will open up your Desktop, and Shift + Command + U will open the Utilities folder.
Finder shortcuts in macOS
- Command + C: Copy
- Command + V: Paste
- Option + Command + V: Move
- Command + F: Start search
- Command + D: Duplicate file
- Space: Opens quick look
- Command + I: Shows Get Info
- Command + Delete: Move the selected file to trash
- Command + K: Show Connect to Server window
- Shift + Command + K: Open Network window
- Shift + Command + R: Open AirDrop window
- Shift + Command + C: Open Computer window
- Shift + Command + D Open Desktop
- Shift + Command + U: Open Utilities
Better volume control
One final shortcut you should know isn’t application specific – it’s related to your computer’s volume. Normally, you just press the volume keys up or down to change the volume to your liking – but what if you’re wearing headphones, or want some extra granular control over exactly how loud your computers sound is? Well, if you just hold Option + Shift, and then hit the Volume key, you’ll notice that the bar moves in much smaller increments. This one isn’t something I use all the time, but it does come in handy once in a while!
Volume shortcuts in macOS
- Option + Shift + Volume up: Increase volume in smaller step
- Option + Shift + Volume down: Decrease volume in smaller step
Now these are some of the shortcuts that I find most useful, but there are way more out there I didn’t cover – from system wide shortcuts to other program specific ones. If you have any favorite shortcuts that save you time, please feel free to share them in the comments below the post!
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