100+ Mac Keyboard Shortcuts You Should be Using to Work More Efficiently

Streamline your Mac operations

by: - Last updated on: November 16th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Apple’s macOS contains a ton of keyboard shortcuts for various system and app operations.
  • Using these Mac keyboard shortcuts, you can eliminate the extra steps involved in performing a task and improve your operational efficiency.
  • Since learning all the different macOS keyboard shortcuts can be daunting, we’ve curated a list of the best keyboard shortcuts you must use on your Mac to get stuff done faster.

macOS keyboard shortcuts can significantly boost your productivity on a Mac. Using these shortcuts, you can eliminate the extra steps involved in performing a task and improve your operational efficiency.

MacBook keyboard

IMAGE: rupixen (Unsplash)

If you’re new to Mac, though, learning all the different macOS keyboard shortcuts can be a challenge. Hence, to help you in the process, we’ve curated a list of the best Mac keyboard shortcuts that you can use to perform a range of operations.

Best Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Almost all keyboard shortcuts on a Mac require you to press (and hold) at least one modifier key at once to trigger an action. A modifier key, for the uninitiated, is a special key that momentarily invokes the alternate function of another key to help you perform its assigned operation.

On a Mac, there are five different modifier keys, namely:

  • Command (or CMD) –
  • Option
  • Shift
  • Control^
  • Function (or Fn)

Now that you know how to work with modifier keys let’s dive in and explore the best keyboard shortcuts for Mac. We’ve clubbed these shortcuts by categories and use-cases to make it easier for you to find them.

1. Basic Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

Basic Mac keyboard shortcuts include everything from simple copying and pasting text to opening a new Finder window, emptying the trash, or accessing folders. These shortcuts can significantly help you in your day-to-day Mac operations and improve your efficiency.

 

Action Shortcut
Copy the selected item Command + C
Cut the selected item Command + X
Paste selection Command + V
Undo the previous action Command + Z
Redo/reverse the undo action Command + Shift + Z
Find items in a document or window Command + F
Hide windows of the front app Command + H
Minimize windows of the front app Command + M
Open the selected item Command + O
Print the current document Command + P
Save the current document Command + S
Open a new tab Command + T
Close the front window Command + W
Close all windows Option + Command + W
Force quit an app Option + Command + Esc
Enter fullscreen Control + Command + F
Open the front app’s preferences Command + Comma (,)
Take a screenshot Shift + Command + 3
Capture a portion of the screen Shift + Command + 4
Capture a window or menu Shift + Command + 4 + Space bar
Open screenshot menu/record screen Command + Shift + 5

2. macOS Finder Keyboard Shortcuts

Finder is the most-used app on Mac that gives you access to the entire file system along with all your apps/documents. Although it’s fairly easy to navigate Finder, you can accomplish most of these tasks more efficiently if you know the right keyboard shortcuts.

Action Shortcut
Duplicate the selected files Command + D
Eject the selected disk Command + E
Start a search in Finder Command + F
Open the Get Info window for a file/folder Command + I
Open the Computer window Shift + Command + C
Open the Desktop folder Shift + Command + D
Open the Recents window Shift + Command + F
Open the Go to Folder window Shift + Command + G
Open the Home folder Shift + Command + H
Open iCloud Drive Shift + Command + I
Open the Downloads folder Option + Command + L
Show or hide the Preview pane Shift + Command + P
Show or hide the tab bar Shift + Command + T
Open the AirDrop window Shift + Command + R
Show or hide the path bar Option + Command + P
Show or hide the status bar  Command + /
Open the Connect to Server window Command + K
Create a new Smart Folder Option + Command + N
Open a new window Command +N
Open an item in Quick Look Command + Y
Go to the previous folder Command + [
Go to the next folder Command + ]
Move the selected item to Trash Command + delete

3. macOS Spotlight Keyboard Shortcuts

Spotlight is a system-wide search functionality on macOS that lets you search your Mac for various types of files, documents, images, apps, system settings, and more.

Much like other system elements, Apple employs certain keyboard shortcuts to Spotlight as well. These shortcuts enhance the search experience and dramatically speed up the process.

Action Shortcut
Open or close Spotlight search Command + Space bar
Move to the next result Down arrow
Move to the previous result Up arrow + V
Open a result Return
View a file in Finder (or a dedicated application) Command + R
Find items in a document or window Command + F
Open Finder with search field selected Option + Command + Space bar
Show the path of a result Command

4. Mac Startup Keyboard Shortcuts

As the name suggests, startup keyboard shortcuts are shortcuts that allow you to perform Mac startup operations with ease. Using them, you can restart Mac in recovery mode, access Startup Manager, or reset NVRAM or PRAM, among other things. These keys or key combinations should be pressed and held immediately after you hit the power button to turn on your Mac or when it begins to restart.

Bear in mind that these startup keyboard shortcuts only work on Intel-based Mac. If you wish to access any of the startup options on a Mac with Apple silicon, turn it on and continue to press and hold the power button until you get to the startup options window.

Action Shortcut
Boot Mac from macOS Recovery Command + R
Start up Mac to Startup Manager Option
Reset NVRAM or PRAM Option + Command + P + R
Boot into Apple Diagnostics D
Start up in Safe Mode Shift
Start up in verbose mode Command + V
Find items in a document or window Command + F

5. Mac Power Keyboard Shortcuts

Power operations such as putting the Mac to sleep, forcing Mac to restart, locking its screen, etc., can be performed using the power button or by navigating certain system settings. However, much like other Mac actions, these can also be simplified with keyboard shortcuts.

Action Shortcut
Turn on Mac Press power button
Put Mac to sleep Press and hold power for 1.5 sec/Option + Command + Power
Put display to sleep Control + Shift + Power
Lock screen Control + Command + Q
Force restart Mac Control + Command + Power
Quit all apps Control + Command + Media Eject
Log out of macOS account Shift + Command + Q
Quit apps and shut down Mac Control + Option + Command + Power

6. Mac Accessibility Keyboard Shortcuts

Accessibility features allow you to control your Mac using a keyboard. Apple also includes accessibility keyboard shortcuts for a lot of these features like VoiceOver, Siri, Dictation, etc., on macOS, which you can use for easy access.

Action Shortcut
View Accessibility options Option + Command + F5
Turn VoiceOver on or off Command + F5 or Fn + Command + F5
Open VoiceOver Utility Control + Option + F8
Turn zoom on or off Option + Command + 8
Zoom in Option + Command + Plus (+)
Zoom out Option + Command + Minu (-)
Invert colors Control + Option + Command + 8
Increase contrast Control + Option + Command + Full stop (.)
Reduce contrast Control + Option + Command + Comma (,)

7. Document Keyboard Shortcuts

If you use Mac as your primary device for work or personal use, you probably use it to work (create or edit) on many documents. In which case, you can get the most of the editing experience using the different keyboard shortcuts.

Most of these shortcuts work well with Apple’s suite of apps like TextEdit, Pages, Numbers, etc., but you can also put some of them to use on third-party document apps.

Action Shortcut
Boldface the selected text Command + B
Italicize the selected text Command + I
Hyperlink the selected text Command + K
Underline the selected text Command + U
Scroll to the beginning of a page Fn + Left arrow
Scroll to the end of a page Fn + Right arrow
Move to the beginning of the line Control + A
Move to the end of the line Control + E
Move one character forward Control + F
Move one character backward Control + B
Move up one line Control + P
Move down one line Control + N
Insert a new line after the cursor Control + O
Left align Command + {
Right Command + }
Center align Command + |
Copy style Option + Command + C
Paste style Option + Command + V
Paste and match style Option + Shift + Command + V
Increase the size of the selection Shift + Command + Plus (+)
Decrease the size of the selection Shift + Command + Minus (-)
Open the Help menu Shift + Command + Question mark (?)
Scroll up one page Fn + Up arrow
Scroll down one page Fn + Down arrow
Scroll to the beginning of a page Fn + Left arrow
Scroll to the end of a page Fn + Right arrow
Delete the character to the left of the cursor Control + H
Delete the character to the right of the cursor Control + D
Show or hide the definition of the selected word Control + Command + D
Find misspelled words in a document Command + Semicolon (;)

What Is Mac Screenshot Shortcut?

On macOS, you can take a screenshot in a few different ways. Listed below are the different ways to take a screenshot and their shortcuts

  • Take a screenshot of the entire screen: Command + Shift + 3
  • Capture a portion of the screen in your screenshot: Press Command + Shift 4 and use the crosshair to select the area to capture
  • Capture a window or menu: Hit the Command + Shift + 4 + Space bar screenshot shortcut and tap on the window or menu to capture it
  • View screenshot menu/record the screen: Press Command + Shift + 5 and select from the available screenshot or screen capturing options. Additionally, you can set a timer to capture the screen after the specified time

Get Stuff Done Faster With macOS Keyboard Shortcuts

Using the macOS keyboard shortcuts in this guide, you should be able to carry out a lot of your daily Mac operations with ease and accomplish more with fewer steps.

Of course, this goes without saying that third-party applications will have their native keyboard shortcuts for different actions. And therefore, you’ll have to refer to their documents to find out these shortcuts for Mac.

Besides, if you ever need to create custom shortcuts, be it to launch specific apps or trigger app-specific or setting-specific operations, among others, you can do so using Keysmith.

FAQs About Mac Shortcuts

Like we mentioned in the previous question, the Command key on Mac keyboards is equivalent to the Control key on Windows for most operations. So if you want to copy an item on macOS, you simply use the Command+C shortcut, whereas, to paste the copied selection, you press the Command+V shortcut.

While this is ideal macOS behavior, if you wish to use the Control key for your shortcuts instead, you can swap the functionality of the Control and Command key from the Mac keyboard settings.

To do this, head to System Preferences > Keyboard. Click on Modifier Keys, hit the dropdown button next to Command, and select Control from the dropdown list.

On macOS, you can view all the applicable shortcuts for an app right inside it using the Cheatsheet app. To do this, first, download and install the Cheatsheet app on your Mac. Launch Cheatsheet and let it run in the background. Now, open the app whose shortcuts you want to know and press and hold down the Command key until you see an overlay with all the available shortcuts for it.

Since the Command key functions as a Control key on a Mac, the equivalent to Ctrl+A keyboard shortcut, which is used to select all items in a list, on macOS is Command+A.

On macOS, you can copy a selected item (or items) using the Command+C keyboard combination. Similarly, if you wish to paste it, you hit the Command+V shortcut.

Yes, you can move between Safari tabs on Mac using the Control+Tab keyboard shortcut. This shortcut also applies to other browsers as well as Finder.

No, macOS doesn't have a keyboard shortcut to open the System Preferences directly. However, you can choose to create a shortcut for the same from the keyboard settings or by using the Keysmith app.

The Ctrl+Alt+Del keyboard shortcut on Windows behaves differently depending on the context in which you invoke it. In general, however, you'll find it used or suggested to close unresponsive applications.

And as such, its equivalent on macOS is the Command+Option+Esc keyboard shortcut that brings up the Force Quit Applications menu from where you can close the frozen app.

The Mac-equivalent of Alt key is the Option key. It's sometimes also referred to as ⌥, and you'll find two of its instances on a Mac keyboard: both next to the Command key on either side of the Space bar.

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