Shortcuts are the key to a better computer experience

Have you ever seen someone move around a computer without hardly picking up their mouse? It might have seemed like they were performing some sort of keyboard magic. While it’s not actually magic, using keyboard shortcuts can greatly improve your productivity and performance while working at a computer. This article is going to highlight some of the more useful ones you should memorize if you are using a Mac operating system.

What is a keyboard shortcut?

A keyboard shortcut is a sequence or combination of keystrokes that trigger a command within computer software. Most common shortcuts only require the user to press two keys — one after the other. For example, to copy the highlighted text in a document, you press the command key along with the C key (CMD+C). The main reason I decided to highlight this topic is because of a special shortcut that I used in the past to be able to scroll through multiple inspector windows without having to open an inspector window for each image or file I was clicking on. Since it had been a while since I used it, I couldn’t remember what the shortcut was. So, when I looked it up (CMD+OPTION+I) I had the thought that others might not know how to use shortcuts to their advantage. The list below showcases some of the most common shortcuts you can use on macOS.

Common Shortcuts for macOS

NOTE: These shortcuts will work within the Mac Operating System, but each application may have different shortcuts than the ones outlined here. To find shortcuts within an application, look in the dropdown menus. Shortcuts are usually illustrated next to their menu command.

  • Command+X: Cut the selected item and copy it to the Clipboard.
  • Command+C: Copy the selected item to the Clipboard. This also works for files in the Finder.
  • Command+V: Paste the contents of the Clipboard into the current document or app. This also works for files in the Finder.
  • Command+Z: Undo the previous command. You can then press Shift-Command-Z to Redo, reversing the undo command. In some apps, you can undo and redo multiple commands.
  • Command+A: Select All items.
  • Command+F: Find items in a document or open a Find window.
  • Command+G: Find Again: Find the next occurrence of the item previously found. To find the previous occurrence, press Shift+Command-G.
  • Command+H: Hide the windows of the front app. To view the front app but hide all other apps, press Option+Command+H.
  • Command+M: Minimize the front window to the Dock. To minimize all windows of the front app, press Option+Command+M.
  • Command+O: Open the selected item, or open a dialog to select a file to open.
  • Command+P: Print the current document.
  • Command+S: Save the current document.
  • Command+T: Open a new tab.
  • Command+W: Close the front window. To close all windows of the app, press Option+Command+W.
  • Option+Command+Esc: Force quit an app.
  • Command+Space bar: Show or hide the Spotlight search field. To perform a Spotlight search from a Finder window, press the Command+Option+Space bar. (If you use multiple input sources to type in different languages, these shortcuts change input sources instead of showing Spotlight. Learn how to change a conflicting keyboard shortcut.)
  • Control+Command+Space bar: Show the Character Viewer, from which you can choose emoji and other symbols.
  • Control+Command+F: Use the app in full screen, if supported by the app.
  • Space bar: Use Quick Look to preview the selected item.
  • Command-Tab: Switch to the next most recently used app among your open apps.
  • Shift+Command-5: In macOS Mojave or later, take a screenshot or make a screen recording. Or use Shift+Command+3 or Shift-Command-4 for screenshots. Learn more about screenshots.
  • Shift+Command+N: Create a new folder in the Finder.
  • Command+Comma (,): Open preferences for the front app.


You might find yourself getting aggravated with the number of shortcuts that each application or the operating system has but just remember, once you have memorized these useful key combinations, you will become more efficient with your computer.