Keyboard shortcuts for Apple Macintosh OSX

Keyboard shortcuts in Apple OS X

I had a lot of trouble working out just which keyboard shortcuts should be used for what in a Macintosh Powerbook. This particularly applied to modifier (shift) style keys. The best description I ever found was in Apple document 75459.

Modifier Keys

The key with the Apple and cloverleaf on it seems to be called the Command key, and is used often.

The Option key is also labeled Alt.

There is a Ctrl key, which isn't at all like a Windows Ctrl key, and doesn't appear to be often used, except in conjunction with the mouse, where it seems the equivalent of a right mouse button.

The Fn key (on my Powerbook) needs to be held down to make the various Function (F1 to F10) keys work as Function keys. If Fn is not used, each Function key tends to provide a specialised purpose as marked on it.


Click on an icon to open relevant application.
Ctrl Click
Like right button on mouse, opens a context menu.
Option Click
Bring up alternatives.
Command Alt Click
Application icon in the dock to bring that forward and hide all other running applications.


Cloverleaf or Apple Command
Works like Ctrl key in Windows. For example Command C for Copy, Command X for Cut (X looks like scissors), Command V for paste (V looks like an arrow - these ideas are not my fault).
Works like a backspace key. Use Fn Delete (on laptop keyboard) to get a regular forward delete. Use Commmand Delete to remove highlighted items. Deleting files needs to be a deliberate actions, but occurs without annoying prompts.
Keyboard selection
In menus, by typing the first few letters of a name (after Enter or Space).
Command ?
Bring up Help Viewer.
Command A
Select all material.
Command C
Copy the selected material to clipboard.
Command F
Find (and usually brings up Replace options also).
Command G
Find Again, using previous supplied search pattern.
Command H
Hide an application. More useful than the minimize all windows option. When you click on the hidden application icon all the windows will be brought forward to their pre-hidden location. You can get at hidden applications via Command Tab.
Command M
Minimize window.
Option Command M
Minimize all windows open for that application.
Command N
Open a new window.
Command O
Opens an file in the appropriate application if a file is selected. Opens a folder if a folder is the selected item.
Command V
Paste last copy or cut selection to current location.
Command W
Close Window.
Option Command W
Close all Windows.
Command X
Cut the selected material.
Command Z
Undo last action.
Shift Command Z
Redo (often - however some applications toggle Undo/Redo using only Command Z rather than supporting multiple levels of Undo)
While a file is selected in Finder, Rename the file. If Enter is used twice, file is unchanged. Seems a deliberate interface choice, although after MS Windows Explorer I find it unusual. Use Command O to Open the file.
Command RightArrow
Expand folder (Finder list view)
Option Command RightArrow
Expand folder and nested subfolders (Finder list view)
Command LeftArrow
Collapse Folder (list view)
Option Command UpArrow
Open parent folder and close current window

Application Switcher

Application Switcher
Command Tab to bring up list of open applications, H to Hide current application, M to Minimise current application, Q to Quit current application. If the application is on the Desktop or Hidden rather than in the Dock, then Option Enter will bring it to the foreground.
Command Tab
Tab will cycle through open applications on the Dock. Use Shift Tab to toggle reverse direction.
Shift Command Tab
Sets a toggle to move you in the reverse direction to a normal Command Tab.
Command ~
Tilde is a published standard for cycling through an application's open windows. Not all applications use it yet.

Full Keyboard Access

After setting Full Keyboard Access, use keyboard to perform many actions on your computer, handy if you have disability or don't like mouse, as per Apple document 61529. Open System Preferences and click Keyboard, then click the Full Keyboard Access tab. Key actions are listed in Apple document 61466.

If you turn on the Mouse Keys feature, you can use the numeric keypad to move the mouse.

Control F1
Turn Full Keyboard Access on or off.
Control F2
Highlight the menu bar.
Control F3
Highlight the Dock
Control F5
Highlight the toolbar
Control F6
Highlight a tool palette then each palette in order.
Control F7
Access all controls in the current dialog if you select the option to highlight only text boxes and lists.

Windows Shortcuts for Mouse

These are listed in Apple document 61474.

Option click close button
Close all open windows.
Option click minimize button
Minimize all open windows.
Option click zoom button
Enlarge window to fill the screen.
Option click a window
Hide the previous program.
Option click Dock icon
Hide the previous program.
Command drag window
Move a window without making it active.
Command click window title
Choose a folder that contains the current folder.

Capturing Pictures of the Screen

Listed in Apple document 61544. You can also use the Grab application.

Shift Command 3
Take a screen shot of the entire display (saves it as .tiff file to your desktop)
Shift Command 4
Take a screen shot of the section of screen you select using the mouse. Cross-hairs will appear. Saves as a PDF to your Desktop on 10.2 and above. See Apple document 107078.
Control Shift Command 3
copy the entire screen to the Clipboard instead of as a file.
Control Shift Command 4
Copy the selected range to the Clipboard.

Mouse Shortcuts for Shut Down and Restart

As per Apple document 106567

Control Eject
The dialog box "Are you sure you want to shut down?" appears with options to Restart, Sleep, Cancel or Shut Down.
Control Command Eject
Quits all applications (after giving you a chance to save changes to open documents) and restarts the computer.
Control Option Command Eject
Quits all applications (after giving you a chance to save changes to open documents) and shuts the computer down.
Option Command Eject
Puts the computer to sleep.


Press these keys during startup for special purposes.

Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items and non-essential kernel extension files (Mac OS X 10.2 and later)
Option Shift Command Delete
Bypass primary startup volume and seek a different startup volume (such as a CD or external disk).
CD start up from a CD that has a system folder.
Network start up from a compatible network server (NetBoot).
Reset PowerBook screen reset.
Target. Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode.
Force Mac OS X startup if an earlier version is present.
Command .
Open CD tray on some systems.
Command S
Start up in Single-User mode.
Command V
Verbose mode.
Command Option P R
Reset Parameter RAM.
Mouse button
Eject removeable disks (some systems).
LeftShift Mouse button
Prevent automatic login on some systems.

Not Yet Classified

Command up-arrow and down-arrow will issue back and forward commands respectively. This will function much like the buttons in any Web browser.

Column view is very useful and is also the view used in file open and save sheets. (Mac OS X replaces dialog boxes with sheets that slide down from the title bar of the window they are associated with.) It has one column for each folder. Deeper folders are displayed to the right and more shallow folders to the left. If you have a file selected, the right-most column will display a preview of the file. I'm using this view as I write this article to sample some MP3 files, without having to launch iTunes or QuickTime. You can type Command+J to access view options for Finder.

You can customize the Finder's toolbar from the View menu. But, one of the best ways to customize its toolbar is to drag a folder into it to give yourself a shortcut to that folder. XXX 75459 Menu commands Keyboard shortcut Description Shift-Command-Q Apple Menu Log out Shift-Option-Command-Q Apple Menu Log out immediately Shift-Command-Delete Finder Menu Empty Trash Option-Shift-Command- Delete Finder Menu Empty Trash without dialog Command-H Finder Menu Hide Finder Option-Command-H Finder Menu Hide Others Command-N File Menu New Finder window Shift-Command-N File Menu New Folder Command-O File Menu Open Command-S File Menu Save Shift-Command-S File Menu Save as Command-P File Menu Print Command-W File Menu Close Window Option-Command-W File Menu Close all Windows Command-I File Menu Get Info Option-Command-I File Menu Show Attributes Inspector Command-D File Menu Duplicate Command-L File Menu Make Alias Command-R File Menu Show original Command-T File Menu Add to Favorites Command-Delete File Menu Move to Trash Command-E File Menu Eject Command-F File Menu Find Command-Z Edit Menu Undo Command-X Edit Menu Cut Command-C Edit Menu Copy Command-V Edit Menu Paste Command-A Edit Menu Select All Command-1 View Menu View as Icons Command-2 View Menu View as List Command-3 View Menu View as Columns Command-B View Menu Hide Toolbar Command-J View Menu Show View Options Command - [ Go Menu Back Command - ] Go Menu Forward Shift-Command-C Go Menu Computer Shift-Command-H Go Menu Home Shift-Command-I Go Menu iDisk Shift-Command-A Go Menu Applications Shift-Command-F Go Menu Favorites Shift-Command-G Go Menu Goto Folder Command-K Go Menu Connect to Server Command-M Window Menu Minimize Window Option-Command-M Window Menu Minimize All Windows Command-? Help Menu Open Mac Help Universal Access Keyboard shortcut Description Option-Command-* (asterisk) Turn on Zoom Option-Command-+ (plus) Zoom in Option-Command-- (minus) Zoom out Control-Option- Command-* (asterisk) Switch to White on Black Control-F1 Turn on Full Keyboard Access When Full Keyboard Access is turned on, you can use the key combinations listed in the table below from the Finder. Control-F2 Full Keyboard Access Highlight Menu Control-F3 Full Keyboard Access Highlight Dock Control-F4 Full Keyboard Access Highlight Window (active) or next window behind it Control-F5 Full Keyboard Access Highlight Toolbar Control-F6 Full Keyboard Access Highlight Utility window (palette) The Universal Access preference pane allows you to turn on Mouse Keys. When Mouse Keys is on, you can use the numeric keypad to move the mouse. If your computer doesn't have a numeric keypad, use the Fn (function) key. Mouse Keys Keystroke Description 8 Move Up 2 Move Down 4 Move Left 6 Move Right 1, 3, 7, and 9 Move Diagonally 5 Press Mouse Button 0 Hold Mouse Button . (period on keypad) Release Mouse Button (use after pressing 0) Other Commands Keystroke Description Option-Command-D Show/Hide Dock Command-Up Arrow Move up one directory Command-Down Arrow Move down one directory Page Up or Control-Up Arrow Move up one page Page Down or Control- Down Arrow Move down one page Option-Drag Copy to new location Option-Command-Drag Make alias in new location Command-Drag Move to new location without copying Shift-Command-C Show Colors palette in application Command-T Show Font palette in application Option-Command-esc Force Quit Control-Eject Restart, Sleep, Shutdown dialog box Control-Command-Eject Quit all applications and restart Option-Command-Eject or Option-Command-Power Sleep Command-click window toolbar button (upper right corner) Cycle through available views for the window's toolbar (dependant on the nature of the Finder or application window) Related documents 61466 Mac OS X: Shortcuts for Activating Full Keyboard Access 61529 Mac OS X: How to Use the Keyboard to Perform Actions 61530 Mac OS X: Alternative Ways to Control Your Computer 61544 Mac OS X: Shortcuts for Taking Pictures of the Screen 106567 Mac OS: Apple Pro Keyboard Shortcuts for Shut Down and Restart 75294 iPhoto 1.1.1: Additional Keyboard Shortcuts 107081 Mac OS X 10.2: Kotoeri Keyboard Shortcuts Have Changed 61474 Mac OS X: Shortcuts for Windows 106743 Mac OS X 10.1: Additional Features of the Dock 61494 Mac OS X: Speech - How to Add a Spoken Command for Keyboard Shortcut

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