100+ Essential Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Whether you’ve been a longtime Mac user or just recently made the switch, a guide to keyboard shortcuts can be really handy. Here’s our list of 100+ essential Mac keyboard shortcuts that will help you get things done quicker and more efficiently.

A lot of everyday computer users aren’t too familiar with the idea of keyboard shortcuts. Back in the day, everything on your computer was done on the keyboard. If you had a mouse, which wasn’t a guarantee, it was generally limited to clicking around here and there to select something or move it around. Gradually, graphical interfaces become the standard way we interacted with computers, and arcane keyboard commands were replaced with menus and left- and right-clicks.

Mac Keyboard ShortcutsBut keyboard commands, also known as shortcuts, never left the Mac – they’ve evolved alongside your software, and now your Mac has this massive library of shortcuts that many people don’t even know about. We’ll start with some of the obvious ones that you’ve probably used before, and move on to some of the ones you might not have used.

The Most Important Mac Keyboard Shortcut

There’s one keyboard shortcut that you might end up using more than any other shortcut on your Mac. It enables Spotlight, the built-in search function on your Mac.

⌘ + Space Spotlight

Hitting your Command key + spacebar brings up the magical Mac tool known as Spotlight. It appears as a floating bar on your screen. You can use Spotlight to find anything on your Mac, anything you’ve browsed in Safari, anything that might be in Mail – it’s a very powerful search box. On top of that, it can do simple calculations and conversions (currency, volume, measuring, etc), all without launching another app. Remember this one!

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

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Other Spotlight Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Up / Down – moves up and down the list of results in the Spotlight window

⌘ + Up/Down – moves up and down the list of results in the Spotlight window by section

Common Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’re new to Mac from a PC, many of these will feel similar, but a little off – in Windows, the Control/Ctrl key is used as primary button for shortcuts; on the mac, that honor is filled by the Command key. The command key is often represented by either Command, cmd, or its symbol, ⌘.

⌘ + A Select All – select all items on a page, either in office software or web browsers.

⌘ + C Copy  copy any selected elements into the clipboard.

⌘ + X Cut – this copies selected text to the clipboard, and deletes it.

⌘ + V Paste – this will place any text you previously copied into the clipboard.

⌘ + Z Undo – if you screw up, this combo is your friend. Just tap ⌘ and z, and your last action will be undone. In Safari, it’ll also reopen your last tab (most of the time, anyway; it’s a little finicky). You can “redo” anything you undo by either hitting Shift + ⌘ + Z or ⌘ + Y, depending on the program.

⌘ + F Find – not every window supports find; you’ll need to play and see. But if you’re looking for something within a program, ⌘ + F can help you find it. If you’re going through several matches, hitting Shift + ⌘ + F will go backwards.

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

⌘ + G Find Again – if you’re looking for multiple instances of a word in a list or file, you can skip to the next occurrence by using this shortcut. Like with Find, adding shift (Shift + ⌘ + G) will work backwards through the list.

⌘ + H Hide – this will hide whichever window has focus. Unlike with minimize, there’s no animation, and a window icon won’t appear in the dock. You can bring it back by clicking the app’s icon in the dock or using the task switcher. Note: this won’t work on a window that’s maximized or in split screen mode.

⌘ + M Minimize – shrinks the front window to the dock with a shrinking animation. You can restore with task switcher or by clicking on the minimized window – it’ll be found in the rightmost portion of your dock.

⌘ + N New – the new command varies depending on where you are. In Notes, TextEdit, or any similar office or photo editing program, it’ll open a new document. If you’re in Finder (if you don’t have anything open, or click on the desktop, you’ll be in Finder by default), it’ll open a new Finder window, and in web browsers like Safari and Chrome, you’ll get a new window instead of just a new tab.

If you add shift (Shift + ⌘ + N), you’ll get a new folder in Finder or on the desktop. In Safari and Chrome, you’ll open a window with Private Browsing / Incognito mode enabled.

⌘ + O Open – will bring up an open dialog in most programs: a Finder window pops up, and you find and select the file you want to work with.

⌘ + P Print – need to print? Tap this shortcut and if it’s possible for whatever you’re working on to be printed, it’ll print. One neat thing about your Mac is that it can use the print window to save what you need printed to a PDF instead of paper. It’s a great way to generate a PDF for something that might not support it by saving.

⌘ + S Save – saves your work. On modern Mac applications, especially the ones that have been designed by Apple, saving is generally an automatic process; every so often, your program will save whatever it is you’re working on. Notable exceptions to this include professional programs such a Photoshop, and web browsers like Safari and Chrome.

⌘ + W Close window – if you want to close a single window portion of an app, but not the full app, this is what you want to use. It’ll close a single tab in a browser or a file you’re working on in an editing program. You can close every window of the app – but still not the app itself – by using ⌘ + Option + W.

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⌘ + Q Quit – while the above shortcut will close a single part of your program, Command-Q will quit the entire app. You can do the same thing by right-clicking on the app and selecting Quit. Sometimes, if a program hangs, it’ll become unresponsive and this shortcut won’t work. You can click on the desktop, then click on the Apple symbol in the menu bar and select Force Quit. This is about keyboard shortcuts, however, so you can also bring up the Force Quit dialog by tapping ⌘ + Option + Esc. If you use Chrome, there’s a great setting you can change that makes you confirm you want to close a browser window (which would close all of your tabs).

⌘ + Tab Switch apps – the OS X app switcher works exactly like the one on Windows, just with a different key. A floating window appears onscreen and you can switch between the apps by continuing to hold down Command and tapping Tab. You can reverse the order by holding using Shift + ⌘ + Tab.

If you continue to hold down ⌘ when you find the app you want, you have a few more options – ⌘ + H will hide that app, ⌘ + Q will quit the app, and ⌘ + Up will show you all the most recent files opened in that app.

⌘ + ~ (tilde) Switch windows – instead of switching between apps, this will switch between the windows of a single app. It’ll only work if you already have at least two windows open from the same app. Shift + ⌘ + ~ will sift through open windows in the opposite direction.

⌘ + , (comma) Preferences – if the app you’re using was properly designed for the Mac, and most of the apps you use will be, then this is an excellent way to open that app’s preferences / settings window. Typically, you have to click on the Apple symbol in your menu bar and click on the link therein.

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Space Quick Look – there’s a handy tool in OS X called Quick Look, which brings up a temporary window to preview the contents of a file. You can use it in any Finder window or on the desktop. Any reading format, like TXT or PDF, will probably work, and it also works great for media like pictures. You can dismiss the window by hitting space again or click on the little x in the upper left-hand corner.

fn + Up Page Up – instead of moving up a line, it moves you up a page in your document or browser.

fn + Down Page Down – instead of moving down a line, it moves you down a page in your document or browser.

fn + Left Home – instead of moving left a character, it moves you to the leftmost part of the line.

fn + Right End – instead of moving right a character, it moves you to the rightmost part of the line.

fn + Delete Forward delete – instead of deleting a character to the left of your cursor, it deletes one to the right of it.

⌘ + + (plus) – magnifies text one level; it works in most browsers and some other programs.

⌘ + – (dash) – shrinks text one level; it works in most browsers and some other programs.

⌘ + 0 (zero) – resets any prior text size manipulations increases or decreases; it works in most browsers and some other programs.

⌘ + Shift + ? – opens the help menu or window for your application.

Screenshot Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Your Mac has a few built-in tools to take pictures of your desktop, which are also known as screenshots. It’s a great way to share what you’re working on, or something funny you might see. There are two shortcuts you should get used to using.

⌘ + Shift + 3 – using Command-Shift-3 will take a picture of your full desktop. Anything you see on screen will be put into a BMP picture file and saved to your desktop.
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⌘ + Shift + 4 – you’ll see a crosshair appear on your screen. If you click with your mouse or trackpad and drag, you’ll draw a shaded box over your screen. Anything that’s under this shaded box when you let go of the trackpad is what will be saved to your file instead of the whole screen.

⌘ + Shift + 4 – this looks like the same shortcut, and it sort of is. But this time, when you see the crosshairs, tap the space bar instead. You’ll see whatever window your cursor is under glow (you can switch windows just by mousing around). Click on the window you want to save, and your screenshot will include only that single window. It gets saved to file with whitespace and a drop shadow, which is pretty classy.

System Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

This set of Mac keyboard shortcuts largely deal with turning your computer or display off, or resetting your Mac. Many of them can be achieved by holding down your power button and waiting, but there might be a reason you don’t or can’t do it that way.

Control + Eject Power – brings up the power dialog box, with buttons that will let you make your Mac restart, sleep, or shut down. It works just like your Mac’s power button, which means that if you hold down the two buttons for five seconds, your Mac will power itself down.

⌘ + Eject Restart – need to restart your Mac, and fast? This shortcut will do it. All your windows will close and your Mac automatically restart and open all the apps and windows you had open the last time. Be warned – this all happens pretty quickly.

Shift + Control + Eject Display off – similar to the above commands, this shortcut will put your Mac’s display to sleep. If you’re hooked up to an external monitor, it’ll put that to sleep instead.

⌘ + Control + Eject Quit / Restart – while the other restart command will restore any apps you had open, this shortcut will quit everything first, and then restart. As a result, when you log back in, you won’t have any apps running. Adding option, like ⌘ + Control + Option + eject, will shut down your Mac instead of restarting it.

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⌘ + Shift + Q Quit / Log out – you can log out of your Mac with just a couple of keys. A confirmation window will appear, asking if you’re sure you want to move forward; if you do nothing, it’ll happen automatically in 60 seconds. You can stop it by click on the cancel button. If you want to quit your apps and log out immediately – without any warning – you can use ⌘ + Shift + Option + Q.

⌘ + Control + Power Force restart – this restarts your Mac but without shutting it down first. You shouldn’t use it regularly, as it isn’t good for your filesystem. If something is buggy or hanging, however, it’s another option.

Finder Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

These are shortcuts you can enable inside of Finder. That might mean using it inside of an open Finder window, or by first clicking on an empty desktop (which is kind of like a transparent Finder window). A lot of these shortcuts are to open explicit places / folders on your Mac’s drive, like Downloads, Document, or Network.

Enter/Return Rename – if you highlight a file and then hit return, you’ll be given the option to rename it instead of launching it.

⌘ + D Duplicate – highlight a series of files using search, then duplicate will make instant copies in the same directory.

⌘ + E Eject – click on a specific disk or volume (these days, that’s most likely to be a disk image from a program you install) and use this shortcut to eject it.

⌘ + I Get Info – if you need to know the details of a file without opening, this will do it.

⌘ + Shift + D – opens a Folder window in the Desktop directory.

⌘ + Shift + F – opens a Folder window in the All My Files window.

⌘ + Shift + G – you’ll get a dialog box pop up on screen with an address bar. If you know the precise address of your directory you want, you can type it in here.

⌘ + Shift + H – opens a Folder window into your Home directory, which is the directory named after your account or login.

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⌘ + Shift + I – opens a Folder window in the local iCloud Drive directory.

⌘ + Shift + K – opens a Folder window in the Network section, showing other Macs and PCs on your local network.

⌘ + Shift + L – opens a Folder window in the Downloads directory.

⌘ + Shift + O – opens a Folder window in the Documents directory.

⌘ + Shift + R – opens a Folder window in the AirDrop section, where you’ll see other Macs and iOS devices in close proximity, and have the option to send them a file.

⌘ + Shift + U – opens a Folder window in the Utilities directory, with all of your built-in OS X tools.

⌘ + Shift + Control + T – if you select a file, this shortcut will add it to the Dock on the right-hand side.

⌘ + Control + T – if you select a file, this shortcut will add it to your Finder’s Sidebar.

⌘ + Option + D – will show your Dock if it’s hidden, or hide it if you can see it. This won’t work with apps that are in full screen or split screen modes. It’ll usually work outside of Finder, too.

⌘ + Option + P – shows and hides your Finder window’s path bar along the bottom.

⌘ + Option + S – shows and hides the Sidebar in your Finder’s window. It’s the panel on the left, showing locations.

⌘ + / (slash) – shows and hides the status bar in your Finder windows.

⌘ + J – brings up your Finder window’s View Options.

⌘ + K – brings up a Connect to Server window, which is a great way of accessing files on the network (especially for accessing PC files while you’re on your Mac).

⌘ + T – if you have a single tab open in Finder, this shortcut will show (or hide) the tab bar.

⌘ + Shift + T – shows and hides specific Finder tabs.

⌘ + Option + V – if you have files in the clipboard, this shortcut will move them from wherever they are to the directory you’re in right now.

⌘ + Option + Y – this super cool shortcut lets you select a bunch of files, then generate a slideshow, instantly.

⌘ + Y – like using the spacebar, this will let you Quick Look preview the files you selected.

⌘ + 1 – changes your Finder window to icon view.

⌘ + 2 – changes your Finder window to list view.

⌘ + 3 – changes your Finder window to column view.

⌘ + 4 – changes your Finder window to Cover Flow.

⌘ + [ – navigates to the previous folder.

⌘ + ] – navigates to the next folder.

⌘ + Up – opens the folder that contains the subfolder you’re in.

⌘ + Down – opens the selected item (enter/return does not do this on Mac).

⌘ + Mission Control – shows your desktop, but this won’t work in fullscreened / split screened apps.

⌘ + Brightness Down – if you’re hooked up to at least two displays (counting the one in your MacBook or iMac), this shortcut will turn display mirroring on and off.

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

⌘ + Shift + Delete – empties your Trash. You’ll get a confirmation dialog pop up first, asking you if you’re sure you want to delete everything in the Trash folder.

⌘ + Shift + Option + Delete – like the above, it empties your Trash, but this command will do it without asking if you’re sure, first.

Option + Brightness (any) – opens your System Preferences and jumps to the Displays preference window.

Option + Volume (any) – opens your System Preferences and jumps to the Sound preference window.

Option + Mission Control – opens your System Preferences and jumps to the Mission Control preference window.

Dock Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Control + Shift – disables your Dock’s magnification effect for as long as you hold the keys down.

⌘ + Option – hold down these keys as you click on an app’s icon in the dock will hide all open applications except for the one you click on.

⌘ – hold down Command and click on an icon, and you’ll open a Finder window in the directory where that app or file is located.

Mission Control Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Control + Up – you can use this shortcut to enter Mission Control; it’s useful if you’re using a keyboard that doesn’t already have an explicit Mission Control key (on most Mac keyboards, it’s F3).

Control + Left – moves one Space (as in OS X Spaces, not spacebar spaces) to the left.

Control + Right – moves one Space to the right.

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