Mac keyboard short cuts: Learn these simple tricks, save yourself time
Takeaway: Alastair Dodwell advises beginners to learn these basic keyboard short-cuts and you’ll be well on your way to greater efficiency on your Mac. These are good to know for any Mac user.
If, like many you are a recent convert from the world of Windows then at first the Mac keyboard can seem strange with a number of unusual symbols. Every Windows user is familiar with Ctrl, Alt and Delete. With Mac you soon learn the Option and Command Keys, even if they have rather strange symbols: ⌥ and ⌘ respectively.
If you could work less every day, would you? Let’s say you could shave off 2 seconds of every minute just by using keyboard short-cuts instead of a mouse. Although 2 seconds doesn’t sound like much time, the folks over at Brainscape believe you can save a whopping 64 hours a year, or 8 workdays, just by utilizing keyboard short-cuts or KBS. So if you haven’t given KBS a try, there’s no better time than right now to become the super user you always dreamt you’d become and show off to your friends. Let’s start with some basics for the Mac and then quickly move on to the short-cuts you’ll be able to use every day at home or in the workplace. Whenever you use a keyboard short-cut you are utilizing a key combination called a “modifier key” along with a character key.
The modifier keys and their symbols on a Mac include:
Fn Function Key
⌥ Option (alt)
I’ve pieced together a punch list of short-cuts that will advance anyone from the family IT Dad to a career-minded IT Director. I’ve broken down these keyboard shortcuts into categories to make the learning process slightly easier.
Finder Keyboard Short-cuts
Command-Shift-A: This skips you straight to the Applications folder. Command-Shift-U: Takes you directly to the Utilities Folder and is quite possibly among the best time savers when it comes to troubleshooting someone’s Mac. Command-Shift-G: This is the “Go to Folder” short-cut and it’s perfect for navigating to that annoyingly hidden ~/Library folder. Command-I: This is the quickest way to “Get Info” about a folder, hard drive and even how permissions are set on an item. Command-K: Quickly connect to a server with this key command. Command-Shift-K: This opens your Network Finder window. It’s great for seeing who and what is sharing on your network. Command-Tab: Quickly switch between open applications. Command-N: Opens a new Finder window.
Managing open windows
Command-M: Minimizes active window. Command-Option-M: Minimizes ALL windows of the active application. Example: I have five Safari windows active and three Finder windows in the background. Using this command will minimize all of the Safari windows, leaving the three Finder windows open. Command-H: Quickly hides the active window or application you are using. This is different from minimizing, as the windows are completely hidden and not placed in the Dock. To get them back, simply click on the application icon. Command-Option-H: Hides all windows except for the window or app you are working in. Command-W: Closes the active window. Command-Shift-W: What good is closing a window if you can’t close them all!? This quickly closes all open windows.
Managing files and folders
Command-A: Selects all items within the open window or Finder. Command-C: Copies the folder or file. Command-V: Pastes the last copied item into the selected location. Command Key while Dragging: When attempting to move an item to a different volume, drive, etc., hold the Command key to Move instead of Copying. Option Key while Dragging: This copies the item you’re dragging instead of moving it. Command-Delete: Moves the selected item to the trash. Command-Shift-Delete: Empties the trash. There’s a very long list of Mac keyboard short-cuts and it can be daunting to memorize every short-cut that exists. However, by learning the short-cuts listed above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the KBS super user.
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