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The Most Useful Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

by Suzanne Kantra on May 02, 2022

Many functions and features in OS X are accessed and controlled by swiping, tapping and pinching on the surface of a trackpad, as well as by pointing and clicking. But you can also use a keyboard alone to summon a feature or function, including Siri.

In fact, OS X contains so many keyboard shortcuts — combinations of key presses that invoke a command — that an Apple webpage lists hundreds of them. And if those aren't enough, you can use the Shortcuts app to create your own shortcuts (MacOS 12.0 or higher) or add premade shortcuts from the Gallery in the Shortcuts app. These shortcuts also work on iOS and iPadOS devices

Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcuts for navigating among applications, open windows and the desktop

Command Key + Tab – Move forward to the next most recently used application in a list of open applications

Command Key + Q – Quit the frontmost application

Command Key + W – Close the frontmost window

Command Key + Spacebar – Access Spotlight for searching the Web, iCloud and your local files

Shift + Command + R – Open AirDrop

Option + Command + D – Show or hide the Dock

Shortcuts to use within open applications and windows

Command Key + N – Create a new document in the frontmost application

Command Key + P – Display the print dialog box

Command Key + S – Saves the active document

Command Key + Shift Key + S – Display the Save As dialog box

Command Key + Z – Undo previous command (some applications permit multiple Undos)

Command Key + Shift Key + Z – Redo previous command (some applications permit multiple Redos)

Shortcuts for selecting and acting on selected items

Command Key + A – Selects all items in a document or window (or on the desktop if no window is open), or all characters in a text field

Command Key + B – Boldface the selected text or toggle boldfaced text on and off

Command Key + C – Copies selected item or text to the Clipboard

Command Key + F – Finds items in a document or opens the Find window

Command Key + I – Italicize the selected text or toggle Italic text on and off

Command Key + V – Paste the Clipboard contents at the location of the cursor. Use Shift + Option + Command + V if you want to match the style of the text to your existing document.

Command Key + X – Cuts the selected item and stores it in the Clipboard

Shortcuts for screen captures

Command Key + Shift Key + 3 – Capture the screen to a file

Command Key + Shift Key + 4 – Capture a selection to a file

Command Key + Shift Key + Control Key + 4 – Capture a selection to the Clipboard

Shortcuts for navigating the menu bar

Control Key + F2 – Puts the focus on the menu bar, so you can now use the following keyboard shortcuts to navigate through the menu bar menus. (Useful if your portable mouse or portable trackpad has dead batteries and won't operate.)

Left Arrow and Right Arrow – Moves from menu to menu

Return – Opens a selected menu

Up Arrow and Down Arrow – Move to menu items in the selected menu

Type the menu item's name – Jump to a menu item in the selected menu

Return – Select a menu item (within a selected menu)

Shortcuts for using Finder

Command Key + Delete – Move to trash

Shift + Command + Delete – Empty trash

Shift + Command Key + N – Create new folder

Shift + Command Key + A – Go to Applications folder

Shortcuts for using Safari

Command Key + T – Open a new tab

Fn + down arrow – Scroll Down by Full Screen  

Fn + up arrow – Scroll Up by Full Screen

Fn + left arrow – Scroll to the beginning of a webpage

Fn + up arrow – Scroll to the end of a webpage

Command + Click a link – Open link in new tab

Also have a Windows PC? Check out our list of the most useful Windows keyboard shortcuts.

Updated on 5/2/2022 added information about the Shortcuts app and correct key combinations

[Image credit: closeup of Mac keyboard via BigStockPhoto]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.


Software & Games, Computers and Software, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101, Time Savers

Discussion loading


From Nancy L. Hoffmann on March 06, 2013 :: 1:59 pm

Is there a keyboard shortcut for making screen captures in Windows 8?



From Andy on March 06, 2013 :: 2:24 pm

Go to accessories. Click on Snipping Tool. With the Task bar unlocked, place the Snipping Tool on the task bar. From there you will be able to capture anything on the screen and save it to your Pictures File.



From Nancy L. Hoffmann on March 06, 2013 :: 2:26 pm

What th??? That is the most complicated procedure ever!! Typical Microsoft! Is there anything easier — such as a keyboard shortcut??



From Josh Kirschner on March 06, 2013 :: 2:32 pm

You can use the Print Screen key to capture the entire desktop and save it to the clipboard. Or, hit Alt + Print Screen to save just the active window. And, new with Windows 8, hit Windows + Print Screen to save the entire desktop to the clipboard and the Picture folder on your computer.

If you just want to capture a portion of the screen, the Snipping Tool is a great little feature of Windows that not many people know about.



From Bobby on May 24, 2013 :: 1:05 pm


The only one I use constantly that isn’t on your list already is “Paste and Match Style”: shift-alt-command-v

In some apps, it’s simply shift-command-v, but the alt won’t hurt and then you don’t need to remember when to use it or not. If you’re every copy pasting and needing to edit the result, try the above.



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