Apple

Mac keyboard shortcuts: Learn these basics, save time

Matthew Surowiec advises beginners to learn these basic keyboard shortcuts, and you'll be well on your way to greater efficiency on the Mac.

If you could work less every day, would you? Lets say you could shave off 2 seconds of every minute just by using keyboard shortcuts instead of a mouse. Although 2 seconds doesn't sound like much time, the folks over at Brainscape believe you can save a whopping 64 hours a year, or 8 workdays, just by utilizing keyboard shortcuts, or KBS. So if you haven't given KBS a try, there's no better time then right now to become the super user you always dreamt you'd become.

Let's start with some basics for the Mac and then quickly move on to the shortcuts you'll be able to use every day at home or in the workplace.

Whenever you use a keyboard shortcut you are utilizing a key combination called a "modifier key" along with a character key. The modifier keys and their symbols on a Mac include:

⇧            Shift

Fn          Function Key

⌃            Control

⌥           Option (alt)

⌘          Command

⇪            Caps

I've pieced together a punch list of shortcuts that will advance anyone from the family IT Dad to a career-minded IT Director. I've broken down these keyboard shortcuts into categories to make the learning process slightly easier.

Finder Keyboard Shortcuts

Command-Shift-A: This skips you straight to the Applications folder. Command-Shift-U: Takes you directly to the Utilities Folder and is quite possibly among the best time savers when it comes to troubleshooting someone's Mac. Command-Shift-G: This is the "Go to Folder" shortcut and it's perfect for navigating to that annoyingly hidden ~/Library folder. Command-I: This is the quickest way to "Get Info" about a folder, hard drive and even how permissions are set on an item. Command-K: Quickly connect to a server with this key command. Command-Shift-K: This opens your Network Finder window. It's great for seeing who and what is sharing on your network. Command-Tab: Quickly switch between open applications. Command-N: Opens a new Finder window.

Managing open windows

Command-M: Minimizes active window. Command-Option-M: Minimizes ALL windows of the active application. Example: I have five Safari windows active and three Finder windows in the background. Using this command will minimize all of the Safari windows, leaving the three Finder windows open. Command-H: Quickly hides the active window or application you are using. This is different from minimizing, as the windows are completely hidden and not placed in the Dock. To get them back, simply click on the application icon. Command-Option-H: Hides all windows except for the window or app you are working in. Command-W: Closes the active window. Command-Shift-W: What good is closing a window if you can't close them all!? This quickly closes all open windows.

Managing files and folders

Command-A: Selects all items within the open window or Finder. Command-C: Copies the folder or file. Command-V: Pastes the last copied item into the selected location. Command Key while Dragging: When attempting to move an item to a different volume, drive, etc., hold the Command key to Move instead of Copying. Option Key while Dragging: This copies the item you're dragging instead of moving it. Command-Delete: Moves the selected item to the trash. Command-Shift-Delete: Empties the trash.

There's a very long list of Mac keyboard shortcuts and it can be daunting to memorize every shortcut that exists. However, by learning the shortcuts listed above, you'll be well on your way to becoming the KBS super user.

About

Matthew Surowiec is firm believer that technical support services should provide two things: highly trained, friendly support reps and low pricing for customers. He co-founded Hello Tech Support, LLC, which provides advanced remote and on-site tech...

2 comments
mslizny
mslizny

I haven't thought of some of these in a while. I will share your list with multiple OS and former PC users.

briantho
briantho

Wow - as an average user those first four Finder (new-to-me) shortcuts are going to save me some time - many thanks!

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