Hardware

Save time with these useful Mac keyboard shortcuts

Wil Limoges shares some of his favorite keyboard shortcuts, particularly useful for those who administer and troubleshoot Macs on a regular basis.

This week I will be sharing some useful keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts will aid you in achieving greater efficiency and help you to be less reliant on you mouse.

Spotlight menu

Probably one of the better known keyboard commands, and by far one that I use most frequently, is the command for Spotlight. By pressing Command + Spacebar you can call up Spotlight search. After pressing Command + Spacebar, focus will shift from your current task to the Spotlight text area and allow you to search for documents, files, etc., as well as solve math calculations and launch applications by simply pressing Enter with the application you wish to open selected.

Capture window to file

Here is a command that I have only recently come across thanks to a savvy co-worker I work with. Ever want to capture a screen shot of a specific window but not include the desktop and any other items that might be exposed underneath? For years I’ve been capturing screen shots using Shift + Command + 4, then taking the images into my favorite image editor and cropping them down to the window that I wanted to focus on. Pressing Shift + Command + 4 allows you to select an area on screen and save it to file, Then, before selecting the area, press the Spacebar and place the cursor over the window you want to capture. The cursor will change into a camera icon, simply click the left mouse button and voila, you will have captured a screen shot of just that window.

Single user mode boot

One of the handiest keyboard startup commands I can think of to date is Single User Mode -- useful mostly because I’m a bit of a terminal junkie and use the terminal app to troubleshoot Macs that are behaving unusually. This keyboard shortcut requires that you shut down or reboot your Mac. Once the Mac has begun to power back up, immediately press and hold Command + S until your Mac boots to a black screen resembling an MSDOS screen. From here, you can access your entire Mac file system, run command line utilities, or even just delete a file that might be causing issue.

Disk Utility and Internet recovery

For those of you who don’t like to venture into the terminal, here is a much more Mac-friendly approach to troubleshooting. Again, you’ll be required to shutdown or reboot, then press and hold Command + R during boot. If successful you will boot directly into Internet Recovery where you can access Password Reset, Disk Utility, and several other very useful tools.

Target Disk Mode

Target Disk Mode is a powerful way to access the drive within a Mac without the need to boot directly from it. Think of Target Disk Mode as a simple way to turn your Mac into a FireWire-based hard drive. Sadly, Apple is moving away from FireWire, however, if you are still supporting older Macs in your environment that have the port, it’s a great tool for retrieving data and moving files between two computers. To initiate Target Disk Mode, reboot and hold down the T key during boot up. If the machine supports the command you should see a Firewire logo with a gray background on your screen. Using a Firewire cable, you can now connect your Mac to any other Firewire-enabled Mac and mount the drive as if it were an external.

Quickly enter URLs in Safari

This keyboard shortcut is a quick way to jump from the page that you are currently viewing within Safari directly to the Address bar for quick URL entry. To use this command, open Safari and press Command + L. This will change the focus from the page to the Address bar allowing you to instantly enter a new URL.

Navigate tabs in Safari

If you're anything like me and have several Safari tabs open at any given time, then here is an easy way to navigate through those tabs. By pressing Command + Shift + Left Arrow or Right Arrow, you can cycle through all of the tabs you have open in a single window. If you have any other great keyboard shortcuts you’d like to share or know of some lesser known commands that are great, please share them in the comments below.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

1 comments
Mike Van Horn
Mike Van Horn

Will, this may be off target for this article, but the Mac keyboard shortcut I miss most in Word is Insert Page Break for the Mac Book Pro, a la Command-Shift-Enter on regular keyboard. Is there one?

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