10 incredibly useful Mac keyboard shortcuts you should be using
Want to take screenshots or quickly hide apps on your desktop? There's a quick macOS keyboard shortcut for that—and plenty of other things, too! In this video, Macworld's Leif Johnson shows you 10 great shortcuts (and variations on them) that will save a lot of time.
Master them, and you'll rarely need to reach for your mouse. Most of these are Mac-specific, so we've avoided familiar cross-system shortcuts for copying, pasting, and things of the sort (although you should totally learn those, too).
You may have heard that one of the best things about using a Mac is Apple’s integration of hardware and software, and one of the best ways to appreciate that integration is to learn the language of Mac keyboard shortcuts. Seriously, if you’re not using these. you’re wasting too much time. Today I’ll show you all the shortcuts I think everyone should know, and I’ll try to keep them Mac-specific.
⌘+Space bar: Open the Spotlight search tool
To open the Mac’s Spotlight search tool, press Command and Space Bar. Get the hang of this one, and will change your life. Whenever you want to find a file or app on your Mac, just tap this shortcut and type the name of the file you’d like the find in the prompt that pops up. The results are instant. Spotlight will also search through things like iMessages, bookmarks, and the full text of files on your hard drive.
⌘+Q: Immediately quit any app Use Command Q to shut down any app immediately. This command doesn’t just minimize the app, which will sometimes happen when you hit the red “X” button at the top left of any Mac app—it completely shuts it down.
⌘+Shift+5: Take screenshots or record the screen You’ve actually got several options for taking a screenshot on a Mac.
Command Shift 3 screenshots the entire visible window. If you can see it on your Mac’s screen, it’ll show up in the screenshot.
Command Shift 4 screenshots a specific area of the screen with the help of a rectangular cropping tool. This is the one I use the most at Macworld, and it’s also great for sharing images or snippets of text on social media.
Apple now makes it easy to see all your screenshot tools at once by pressing Command Shift 5. Press it, and you’ll see a toolbar that gives you options for capturing the entire screen, capturing a specific window, of capturing a specific portion of a window. You can also use it to record either the entire screen or a portion of it and choose where to save the image or video file.
⌘+H: Hide apps instantly Here’s one for sneaky folks. If you’re looking at something you don’t want someone who’s approaching to see, tap Command H and the active open window will vanish. To start using the app again, press the app’s icon on either the dock or in the App Switcher.
You can do this for *all* active apps by holding down Command and Option and then clicking your mouse on any visible part of your desktop. It’s also a great way to declutter your desktop.
If you simply want to minimize an app, press Command M, but its preview will still show up on the right side of your dock.
⌘+Tab: Quickly switch between active apps Holding Command and then tapping Tab opens the App Switcher, which lets you easily switch between all active apps by tapping Tab until you land on the one you want. I personally prefer to just click on apps from the dock, but many Mac users *love* this feature.
⌘+~: Switch between different windows in an app Command Tilde makes research a heck of a lot easier. Let’s say you have two documents open from Apple’s Pages app: one with your notes and one with your draft. This shortcut lets you easily switch between the two (or more) documents. I find it’s particularly helpful if I’m working on a MacBook with a smaller screen where the split-view interface might feel too cramped.
⌘+L: Quickly access the search/address bar in Safari Reaching for your mouse to activate Safari’s search bar wastes a lot of time. Press Command L while you’re using Safari, and the cursor jumps up to the search bar, where you can type out either a search term or a URL. This shortcut also works with Google Chrome. (You can also use it on Windows with the Control key.)
Safari has some other great keyboard shortcuts, too: **⌘+T** opens a new tab, and **⌘+Z** reopens the last tab you (possibly accidentally) closed.
⌘+Option+Q: Force-quit an App If an app is locked up and Command Q isn’t working for whatever reason, use Command OPTION Q to force the app to quit. You can also choose multiple apps to force-quit by pressing Command Option Escape, which is much like using Control Alt Delete on a PC. Instead of the Task Manager, though, you’ll get a window that says Force Quit Applications and you can choose which app you want to close from there.
⌘+Control+Q: Immediately lock your Mac If you’re stepping away from your desk at home or the office and you don’t want someone snooping around on your Mac, press Command Control Q and your Mac will immediately switch to the lock screen. It’s a heck of a lot faster than doing it through the menu bar.
Click+Space Bar: Use Quick Look to preview files If you want to see what a file looks like but you don’t want to waste time opening the associated app, select the file in a Finder folder and then press the space bar. This also works with files on the desktop. A full-page preview will pop up—and with Markup options, too. This works for everything from images and PDFs to Microsoft Excel files.
You can also select multiple files to preview at once by holding down the Command key as you select them and then pressing Command Y. Command Y also works for single files, but in that case it’s less convenient. Once that preview window is open, you can navigate between the files with the arrow keys in the upper left.
And that’s more than enough to get you started. If this video made you realize you really like Mac shortcuts, you can make your own by going to your mac’s System Preferences, pressing Keyboard, and then pressing Shortcuts. Once you get the hang of all these shortcuts, you’ll rarely have to reach for your mouse.
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