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Command+N and Other Incredibly Useful Mac Keyboard Shortcuts I Use Daily

If you use a Mac, you need to know about these Command key shortcuts.

You're probably used to using modifier keys, like Control and Option, on your Mac to perform certain shortcuts that can't be done with only a single key. The most basic and common examples are probably copy (Command-C) and paste (Command-V), but shortcuts also allow you to force-close an app (Option-Command-Esc) or quickly take a screenshot (Command-Shift-4).

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Arguably the most important modifier key of them all is is Command. With it, you can copy and paste text, undo typing, select all your items at once, open a new window and so on. And in addition to all the routine shortcuts it's known for, the Command key is much more powerful than you might think.

Even if you're a MacOS power user, you may not be acquainted with everything the Command key has to offer, such as the ability to quickly hide windows cluttering up your desktop or search for anything stored on your computer. 

Check out six not so commonly known keyboard shortcuts that use the Command key below.

And if you want to learn more about your Mac, check out the best MacOS Monterey features, as well as 10 tips to help you flex your Mac superpowers.

1. Cycle through all the open windows on your desktop

The keyboard shortcut Command-Tab allows you to quickly step through every app window open on your desktop. As long as the window is open on your desktop and not minimized in your dock, holding down the Command-Tab combination will bring up a window with all your open apps. Continue holding down Command as you tap the Tab key to cycle through the apps and let go when the app you want brought to the front is highlighted.

Apps in dock on a Mac

Command-Tab will bring up all your open windows.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

2. Hide the window that's currently open on your desktop

Instead of minimizing your window with the yellow minus button up in the top left corner, you can quickly hide any window that's open on your desktop with the Command-H shortcut. Unlike minimizing, the hide keyboard shortcut hides the window from both your desktop and dock, without closing it completely. To open the window back up, simply click the app icon in either your dock or elsewhere. And if you want to hide all app windows except for the one in front, you can use Option-Command-H.

3. Bring up Spotlight to search for files and apps on your computer

Spotlight search is one of the Mac's most powerful features. Bring up the search bar and type whatever you want to search for, such as text messages, emails, documents, applications, notes, music, settings, movies or locations. You can use the magnifying glass in the menu bar to bring up Spotlight search, but this keyboard shortcut is at your fingertips: Command-spacebar.

Spotlight search feature on Mac

Command-spacebar lets you quickly use Spotlight to search through your computer.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

4. Highlight the URL in your web browser to quickly share it

Usually, if you're sharing a web address you double-click in the search bar and then copy the selected text to your clipboard. However, there's a faster way to do this: use Command-L. This will immediately highlight whatever is in the address bar in Safari, Chrome or another web browser, whether it's something you typed or the URL of the website you're on. You can then hit Command-C to copy it so you can paste it elsewhere.

Highlighted text in Safari

With Command-L, you can quickly highlight the URL in your web browser.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

5. Reopen any closed tabs in the Safari web browser

You may be familiar with Command-T in Safari, which opens a new tab, but there's also a shortcut that can reopen an accidentally closed tab. Simply hit Command-Shift-T and you'll recover whatever tab you most recently closed. And if you've closed several tabs and want to recover all of them, you can continue pressing the Command-Shift-T shortcut to open multiple closed tabs.

6. Open something new in various native Apple applications

The Command-N keyboard shortcut is not nearly used enough. While it's almost universally known for opening up a new window in many popular applications, on your Mac the Command-N shortcut can open a new email in Mail, a text message in iMessage, a window in Safari, a note in Notes, an event in Calendar and more. Try it out in your favorite apps and see what Command-N can open for you.