Mac 101: 56 Useful Mac Shortcuts 41

Mac 101

Mac 101: 56 Useful Mac Shortcuts


As part of a new series that will be making an appearance over the next couple of months is Mac 101. This series will focus on basic tips and tricks for the new user to the Mac system. Since Macs are growing in popularity I thought it was a good idea to do some sort of series to anyone in this category.

This first post will be a big list of useful shortcuts for the Mac. This list was actually recommended by a reader from the contact form. The email was sent in about month ago so I haven’t been to long in replying. Anyway this list will be split up into two sections basic key commands and the rest of them. This list will not include any F1-12 shortcuts as these vary widely depending on the keyboard and age of computer. Of course, if you have anymore that are not features on the list please leave a comment below.


A quick over view of the shortcut symbols used on this page. They should display correctly as they are unicode as part of the font. This works on Firefox and Safari so you should be ok. The list below is for anyone who isn’t quite sure.

⌘ = Command, the most common modifier.

⌥ = Option or Alt.

⇧ = Shift

^ = Control. Not used as frequently but is still there.

Basic Shortcuts

This is a list of shortcuts that should be hardwired into your brain. These are usually the most commonly used. Most of the shortcuts on the list are for Finder, although a lot will work in other applications. If I wrote a list for every single application out there I would be here for ever.

⌘ + Q = Quit
⌘ + W = Close window
⌘ + O = Open a file in your application
⌘ + P = Print
⌘ + C = Copy
⌘ + V = Paste
⌘ + X = Cut
⌘ + S = Save
⌘ + Z = Undo
⌘ + A = Select All
⌘ + Y or Space = Quicklook
⌘ + Tab = Cycle through windows

Personally I use all of those shortcuts all of the time. It helps to remember them and use them. Most will come naturally over time.

Other Shortcuts

This is the list where every other shortcut resides. Have a look through and see if there is anything which is of interest to you.

⌘ + ⇧+ 3 = Take fullscreen picture
⌘ + ⇧ + 4 = Take selected area screenshot
⌘ + ⇧ + 4 + Space = Take screenshot of window or menu
⌥ + ⌘ + Escape = Bring up Force Quit window
⌘ + Space = Spotlight search
⌘ + ` (back tick) = Cycle through applications windows
⌘ + . = Cancel operation
⌘ + ⇧ + ? = Open help
⌘ + I = Get Info
⌘ + [ = Go backwards in history in Finder
⌘ + ] = Go forwards in history in Finder
⌘ + Up Arrow = Go to previous folder in hierarchy
⌘ + Down Arrow = Open folder of file in Finder
⌘ + ⌥ + T = Show hide Finder’s toolbar
⌘ + Delete = Move item to Trash
⌘ + ⇧ + Delete = Empty Trash
⌘ + E = Eject disk
⌘ + F = Find
⌘ + G = Next result in Find option
⌘ + H = Hide application
⌘ + M = Minimize
⌘ + N = New window
⌘ + ⌥ + W = Close all windows
⌘ + ⇧ + Z = Redo
⌘ + ⇧ + H = Go to Home folder
⌘ + ⇧ + D = Go to Desktop
⌘ + ⇧ + C = Go to Computer
⌘ + ⇧ + K = Go to Network
⌘ + ⇧ + I = Go to iDisk
⌘ + ⇧ + A = Go to Application
⌘ + ⇧ + U = Go to Utilities
⌘ + ⇧ + G = Go to folder
⇧ + ⌘ + Q = Log out
⇧ + ⌘ + ⌥ + Q = Log out immediately.
⌘ + D = Duplicate in Finder
⌘ + ⌥ + 8 = Turn on Voice Over
⌘ + ⌥ + + = Zoom in (if turned on)
⌘ + ⌥ + – =Zoom Out
⌘ + ⌥ + D = Show/Hide Dock
^ + Eject = Show shutdown dialog
^ + ⌘ + Eject = Close all and restart
⌥ + ⌘ + Eject = Sleep
⌘ + Shift + F = Find file by name
⌘ + R = Refresh widget


Although a lot of these are for Finder they are very useful to learn especially if you use a function quite frequently. If you have any more general shortcuts please add them in the comments. If you want a cool little application to check which shortcuts are availble to you I recommend KeyCue, I have previously written about it here. It is a good little application for finding new shortcuts on your system.

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41 Responses to “Mac 101: 56 Useful Mac Shortcuts”

  1. 1

    Thank you very much for this. It’s more than useful for Mac OS X new comers : )
    I am ashamed to admit it but i got used double click on a file rather than pressing the return key. And now I finally know that open is simply command + O.

    Comment By Georgi on October 14th, at 12:00 am

  2. 2

    @Georgi, you can also press Command + Down Key and it does the same thing.

    Comment By admin on October 14th, at 12:02 am

  3. 3

    Is there a shortcut to open up the System Preferences?

    Comment By bob on October 15th, at 2:00 am

  4. 4

    One I like very much and learned recently is like ⌘ + ⇧ + Up Arrow. Instead of opening the parent folder in the same windows it opens it in a new windows, leaving the child folder open.

    Comment By Rafael Perrone on October 15th, at 2:37 am

  5. 5

    Most useful command command + `

    Thanks for posting :)

    Comment By p2grace on October 15th, at 4:20 am

  6. 6

    actually ⌘ + Tab switches applications, ⌘ + ~ switches windows in an app

    Comment By Bill on October 15th, at 5:28 am

  7. 7

    Great list–nice to have them all laid out together, very handy.

    I also find the application Quicksilver to be an incredible utility/time saving tool. a little like spotlight, but a lot more versatility. it takes a little bit of time to start using it regularly, but its very efficient.

    Comment By nuri on October 15th, at 6:33 am

  8. 8

    The text navigation keys are very useful: Command + arrow moves the cursor to the top or bottom of the document or beginning or end of the line. Option + left and right arrow move the cursor back and forth one word and holding shift selects the next or previous word or deselects if you select too much. holding shift with the command key and using the arrows also selects as expected. The Command/arrow key combinations work similar to the Home and End keys on Windows.

    Comment By Rick on October 15th, at 7:04 am

  9. 9

    I’m totally excited about the series coming out. Thank you for all of these wonderful tips. I could’ve used this back when I first switched.

    Comment By Jazzy on October 15th, at 7:29 am

  10. 10

    Holding CONTROL key down during the final stage of any screenshot action copies the resultant data to the clipboard rather than dumping it on the deskopt (or wherever).

    Comment By george bush on October 15th, at 9:00 am

  11. 11

    Here’s something also useful (at least for me)
    Command + Left Arrow = Home
    Command + Right Arrow = End

    Comment By Fool on October 15th, at 10:29 am

  12. 12

    Those are some cool shortcuts I will have to add them to a future post.

    Comment By admin on October 15th, at 2:53 pm

  13. 13

    Something I found is: Shift+Ctrl+Eject
    That sets the Screen to Standby on my MBP! I really love it to simple turn it off/on and safe Battery :-)



    Comment By Mike on October 16th, at 6:54 am

  14. 14


    Comment By rohit on October 16th, at 2:21 pm

  15. 15

    Hey, got your website from the Slicehost forum.

    Very useful tips/cheatsheet.


    Comment By Arul on October 16th, at 4:30 pm

  16. 16

    I would like to add a SAVE message folder to my list of available icons – IN OUT DRAFTS Etc. JUST a folder – I do not want save to Mac feature. HELP!

    Comment By Carrie Belair on October 17th, at 10:50 am

  17. 17

    @Carrie can you explain what you want a bit more clearly?

    Comment By admin on October 17th, at 2:27 pm

  18. 18

    One of my favorites is while command tabbing, you can continue holding command and press ‘q’ to quit a running application. Handy for quitting applications without opening them.

    Comment By Mike B on October 18th, at 11:53 pm

  19. 19

    1. I am a fresh out of the box newbie.
    2. I finally figured out to fn delete to do a “reverse delete.”
    3. I guess what you wrote makes sense to Mac users, but all those symbols look alike to me. I tried to follow your notes to learn to cut, copy, and paste. I am going crazy without those tools!!! Can you explain it in English, or do I actually HAVE to go to the Apple Store to learn to cut and paste? :-(

    4. I also really miss a little piece of MS software called Shortkeys. It fills in rather large blocks of text with a few keystokes. Do you know of anything that would mimic that software for a Mac? If not, someone needs to write it and get rich. :-)

    Comment By Cheryl on October 22nd, at 11:00 am

  20. 20

    Ok, I copied your link to the Mac from the Dell, and now I CAN actually read the symbols. Amazing. But give me a break. It’s hard to learn to use a Mac on a Mac when you don’t know how to use a Mac! :-)

    Anyway, I still want a substitute for the Shortkeys program. Any guru advice from the Land of Mac?


    Comment By Cheryl on October 22nd, at 11:16 am

  21. 21

    Cheryl can you explain what you want a bit more clearly? I am having trouble following.

    Comment By admin on October 22nd, at 1:50 pm

  22. 22

    Even though I’m a shortcut nerd, this came in handy, thanks!

    Comment By design on October 22nd, at 3:00 pm

  23. 23

    this one is just for fun
    its control + alt + command + 8
    it reverses all the colors

    Comment By Martin on November 2nd, at 2:19 am

  24. 24

    wow. control alt command 8 is ridiculous.

    Comment By Neef on December 30th, at 11:42 pm

  25. 25

    control alt command 8 has suddenly stopped working and it wont change it back from negative? any ideas??

    Comment By baba on May 29th, at 5:30 pm

  26. 26

    Go into System Preferences > Universal Access then change the setting in there.

    Comment By admin on May 29th, at 7:45 pm

  27. 27

    to bob “Is there a shortcut to open up the System Preferences?”

    you can use alt + vol UP or vol DOWN to acces the “sound” preference pane, and the hit show all to access all system preferences


    Comment By chicles on August 11th, at 4:39 am

  28. 28

    how do u see the results of command shift 3

    Comment By bob smith on August 19th, at 1:02 am

  29. 29


    Shortcut to reach System Preferences..

    I don´t know any keyboard shortcut, but I use Spotlight as much as possible. Cmd-Space to open Spotlight, then start typing ´system preferneces´ until it shows up as Top Hit. Press Enter.

    If you want System Preferences to be presented as early as possible as Top Hit, open Spotlight Preferences and drag Applications to the top.

    Works as well as any keyboard shortcut for me..


    Comment By Johannes on August 22nd, at 2:02 pm

  30. 30

    Another thing about using spotlight to reach for example Spaces Preferences: It is possible to type several words in spotlight. It is also possible to type only the start of several words. So to reach Spaces Preferences from Spotlight, make use of the fact that they are actually called Exposé & Spaces Preferences. So just type ´ex sp´, and Exposé and Spaces Preferences should be presented as Top Hit. Press Enter.


    Comment By Johannes on August 22nd, at 2:12 pm

  31. 31

    new mac user looking for safari shortcuts-is there a shortcut to the google search field?

    thanks in advance,


    Comment By Doug on September 20th, at 7:47 pm

  32. 32

    Hi! does anybody know how to enter a space in a cell (excel). In an ordinary PC you can do this by pressing ALT + ENTER..what about in Mac?


    Comment By Minnie Lagria on October 30th, at 12:57 pm

  33. 33

    well isn’t it inane and moronic that you can use home/end shortcuts in text/safari etc – but not in finder? what about accessibility fhs?!

    Comment By schmac on December 8th, at 6:03 pm

  34. 34

    + Minimize
    makes the window close slow

    Comment By bob on December 31st, at 3:53 pm

  35. 35

    One of my favorites is while command tabbing, you can continue holding command and press ‘q’ to quit a running application. Handy for quitting applications without opening them.

    Comment By Mike B on October 18th, at 11:53 pm

    Mike B!!! Thats so useful! nice! I’m gonna so use that!

    Comment By Jonathan White on February 20th, at 7:09 pm

  36. 36

    Option + Up = page up

    Option + Down = page down

    Option + Left = beginning of word/next word

    Option + Right = end of word/next word

    Control + Up = home

    Control + Down = end

    Control + Left = begining of line

    Control + Right = end of line

    Comment By Zakie_Chan on July 2nd, at 4:13 pm

  37. 37

    Exactly what I was thinking. Your update was on the spot. To get your ex back is not the easiest of the jobs But it for sure can take some effort

    Comment By Shana Perrell on September 20th, at 2:30 am

  38. 38

    I had a screen shot of the thing because I thought it was interesting but I cant’ find it.

    Comment By mozipremierek on September 30th, at 1:30 pm

  39. 39

    Hi, on my PC I could hit ctl+enter while I was online and it would enter .com automatically. Is there anything I can press her? I keep entering command+enter out of habit.

    :) Thanks!

    Comment By susy on October 22nd, at 5:49 am

  40. 40

    You don’t need to type .com on any mac web browser.

    Comment By allan on March 31st, at 2:29 am

  41. 41

    it assumes you want a .com website and automatically loads on both safari and firefox

    Comment By allan on March 31st, at 2:30 am