3 surprising uses for a Mac's Escape key

It does more than just exit out of stuff.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read

You've likely employed the Escape key on a Mac to exit out of a full-screen app or as part of the handy Command-Option-Escape keyboard combo that calls up the Force Quit menu. There are, however, a few other useful things the Escape key can do for you.

These tips work with Macs that feature a physical Escape key as well as the new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro laptops and their virtual Escape key.

1. Hide the cursor

When watching a video or browsing photos, you can hit the Escape key to hide your cursor. The next time you move your mouse or touch the trackpad, it returns. Additionally, ever since OS X El Capitan, you're able to wiggle your finger on the trackpad to find your cursor if you lose it.

2. Delete text in Spotlight

For times when you've entered a search term in Spotlight and come up empty, you can close out of Spotlight and call it back up to try again. Or for a quicker reset of the program, you can hit the Escape key to delete whatever text sitting is in the search box, which lets you head down a different search path without needing to close and reopen Spotlight.

3. Put that tab back

Browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari let you drag a tab from one window to start a new window. I find myself with so many tabs open that they are tiny enough that I frequently grab the wrong one. When you find yourself holding the wrong tab, the quickest way to return it to its spot in your sea of tabs is to hit the Escape key.

In related news, learn how to bring back the Escape key on a Touch Bar MacBook Pro.