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The ultimate guide to Mac keyboard shortcuts

This guide shows all the tricks to let your fingers do the walking around your Mac.

Whether you're a newbie or an experienced Apple user, this guide will show you how to let your fingers do the walking around your Mac.

The fastest way to navigate a Mac is to learn the glut of OS X keyboard shortcuts available at your fingertips.

With just a few keystrokes users can save files, switch between different applications or documents, and even create screenshots on the fly. It's easy, if you know the keys.

The basics
If you're new to a Mac you're probably wondering what some of the keys in front of you are supposed to do. Below is a simple outline of the main keys and their symbols used for shortcuts. Get familiar with these core keys on your Mac.

Name Symbol Abbreviation Command
cmd Control
ctrl Shift
shft Option
opt Function   F fn5 Escape

Most Apple shortcuts are executed using one, or a combination of the above keyboard commands, so it's useful to get familar with them. For example, in most applications it's common to use the Command + S key to save a document you're working on. To find the correct keyboard shortcut for your favourite application simply use the mouse and click on the file menu. There you will see the corresponding shortcut next to the mouse click. See screenshot below.

Where's my Windows keys?
Looking to alt-tab, copy to clipboard, or print screen like you did in Windows? Now that you've ctrl-alt-deleted from Windows the good news is the Mac has all of those options and more, but you may just have to learn a few different keys to press. Here's some common shortcuts you probably used in Windows and its comparable alternative on a Mac.

Action Windows Mac Copy a folder or file Control + C Command + C Paste a folder or file Control + V Command + V Cut to clipboard Control + X Command + X Search or Find Control + F Command + F Force quit an application Control + Alt + Delete Command + Option + Esc Capture screen Print Screen Command + Control + Shift + 3 Find properties Alt + Enter Command + I Print Control + P Command + P Quit a program Alt + 4 Command + Q Save a file Control + S Command + S Toggle between applications Alt + Tab Command + Tab Swith to next window Control + F6 Command + ~ Undo Control + Z Command + Z Select all items Control + A Command + A Rename a folder Select item + F2 Select item + Enter New folder Control + N Command + N

Right, that's the basics out of the way. The above commands will get you around your Mac a lot faster than pointing and clicking with a mouse or trackpad. However, the shortcuts don't end there. Let's get into some more specific keyboard shortcuts that will turn you into a Mac whiz in no time.

The Finder is the default file management program used on Mac OS X. While it is intuitive to use with a mouse there are some useful keyboard shortcuts which can save users time opening files and moving them around. Here's some of the more useful shortcuts:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Preview a file Click Spacebar on a selected item New Finder window Command + N Close window Command + W Go directly to a folder or file Command + Shift + G Connect to a server Command + K Find the properties of a file or application Command + Option + I Delete Trash without prompt Option + Shift+ Command + Delete Delete Trash Command + Option + Delete Edit Filename Press Enter on selected file Move a file instead of copying Command + drag file to new destination Go to "Computer" Shift + Command + C Go to "Home" Shift + Command + H Go to "iDisk" Shift + Command + I Go to "Applications" Shift + Command + A Minimise window Command + M Minimise all windows Option + Command + M Open help Command + ? Go to "Favorites" Shift + Command + F Undo last action Command + Z Change Finder views Command + 1 or + 2 or + 3 or + 4

One of the most handy keyboard shortcuts on a Mac is taking screenshots. Here are the options available:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Take a picture of the whole screen Command + Shift + 3 Take a picture of a selected area Command + Shift + 4 Take a picture of a selected window Command + Shift + 4 + Spacebar Take a picture and place it in Clipboard Command + Shift+ 4 + Control

Eject, Eject!
Is an application not responding or you need to shut down quickly? Don't move your hand towards the power switch before trying these keyboard shortcuts:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Force Quit an application Option + Command + Esc Quit all applications and restart Control + Command + Eject Prompt Restart, Sleep, Shutdown box Control + Eject Sleep mode Option + Command + Eject

Expose' is a feature of OS X which allows users to quickly open or hide a window quickly. It can also find the desktop with ease.

Action Keyboard Shortcut Expose all open windows F9 (on some keyboards fn+F9) Expose all windows in one application F10 (on some keyboards fn+F10) Reveal the desktop F11 Cycle through Exposéd Windows Press Tab after selecting F9 or F10 Slow motion Exposé keys Press Shift while using the above commands

Dashboard is the widget mode in Mac OS X. If you're widget crazy then here's how to manoeuvre around them:

Action Shortcut Open Dashboard F12 Open and close widget dock Command + Plus (+) Cycle to next page of widgets Command + Left or Right arrows Reload or refresh widget Command + R

Dock shortcuts

Action Keyboard Shortcut Hide applications other than the one you're working on Command + Option while clicking on the Dock application Turn magnification on or off Command + Shift Reveal where an application is located in Finder Command + Application in Dock Move the dock to the right, left, or bottom Hold Shift on Dock divider and drag Remove item from Dock Press Control + "Remove item from Dock" Quit or Force Quit Press Control + "Quit" or "Force Quit"

Spaces is the virtual desktop feature in Mac OS X Leopard designed to unclutter your desktop. If you use this feature then this will help clean the clutter faster:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Show all Spaces F8 (fn + F8 on some keyboards) Move between Spaces Control + up, down, left, or right Move to a specific Space Control + 1, 2, 3, 4 ... Move all Spaces into one F8 then C Move an application to another Space F8 then Command and drag to another Space

Spotlight is the search functionality inside your Mac that finds files and applications fast. You can easily access it on the top right of your screen but here are a few extra keyboard shortcuts:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Open Spotlight Command + Space Open Spotlight Window Command + Option + Space Launch first result Enter First result in each category Command + up or down Clear Spotlight search Esc

Front Row
Front Row is the feature which can turn your Mac into a media centre. Normally the easiest way to navigate to Front Row us using the Apple Remote, but if it's stuck in the vortex of the couch cushions here's how to open and close the application fast:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Open Front Row Command + esc Close Front Row Esc Menu actions Up, down, left, right Play or Pause Space Volume Command + up or down

Start-up/boot commands
These commands are useful for advanced users who need keyboard shortcuts during the boot process. Only click on these if you know what you are doing:

Action Keyboard Shortcut Boot from disc C Start in Firewire target disc mode T Safe boot Shift Choose start-up disc Option Seek a different start-up volume Command + Option + Shift + Delete Start-up in single-user mode Command + S Start-up in Verbose mode Command + V

Customising shortcuts
While the above keyboard shortcuts will increase efficiency they might also bring on hand cramping, especially around the bottom left side of the keyboard. The good news is that many of the system-wide shortcuts can be customised for personal preference. To do this, simply click on Systems Preferences ->Keyboard & Mouse ->Keyboard Shortcuts and simply double-click the shortcut you want to change. If at any time you want to change back to the original preferences shipped by Apple, simply click on the "Restore Defaults" button found in this dialog box.

If you have your favourite Mac keyboard shortcut add it in the comment section below and we'll add it to our list over time.