8 useful keyboard shortcuts for OS X

Apple is a great choice for users who want to be more productive and efficient, and for good reason. After all, macOS comes with a lot of keyboard shortcuts that make work easier. Combine Mac OS X’s keyboard shortcuts with the rest of macOS’s productivity features, and you’ll soon be able to navigate your system faster than you could ever do with a mouse.

However, there are so many shortcuts that it can be difficult to figure out which ones are the most effective. The following eight keyboard shortcuts are some of the most useful available to users and a great place to start.

These shortcuts work with all keyboard layouts, but their intended efficiency was designed around use with the QWERTY keyboard. Users of DVORAK and other styles may not find these shortcuts as useful, but you should still keep them in mind.

Spotlight Search (Command + Space)

When it comes to quickly searching your entire Mac for a specific file (or even information from the Internet), nothing beats Spotlight. It’s also great for looking up a quick definition.

You can view Spotlight manually by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar, but the fastest option is to press Command first followed by the space bar. This will open Spotlight and allow you to immediately start typing in the search bar.

Quick Save (Command + S)

Save icon

Nothing scares the hearts of users like lost data. Everyone has heard horror stories of programs crashing and entire projects being lost, all because someone forgot to click Save.

The truth is, there’s no reason to forget to save everything you’re working on. Quick save is such an easy task to perform that you should make it second nature. Just press Command and S at the same time to save the file. The first time you use this shortcut on a new file, you will be asked to name it, but each time afterwards your file will be saved.

Force Quit (Command + Option + Esc)

Force quit the application window

Everyone knows Command + Q is the fastest way to close an app, but sometimes apps freeze. When this happens, press Command, Option and Esc at the same time to force quit a program.

The difference between these two is that a normal “Quit” command will give the program the ability to properly stop its operations, while a “Force Quit” command essentially crashes the program and forces it to quit. Force close should only be used when a program does not shut down normally.

Trash (Command + Delete)

Trash can icon

If you need to quickly move a file to the Trash, don’t click and drag. Select that file (or as many files as you want) and hit Command + Delete. The files will be immediately moved to the Recycle Bin, but will not be deleted immediately.

Files stay in the Recycle Bin for a long time and continue to take up space in your memory. After deleting an item, press the Mac OS X keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + Delete to empty the trash and free that memory.

Change Windows (Command + Tab)

Keyboard image

Even with macOS’s ability to place two windows side by side, there are still situations where you need to switch between windows. While swiping gestures on the touchpad can make this easier, Command + Tab lets you instantly switch between the two most recent windows.

Just touch the two buttons in unison to make the swap. If you need to move between other windows, hold down Command and then Tab tab. You can navigate between currently open applications without ever touching the mouse.

Cut, Copy and Paste (Command + X or C, Command + V)

Ctr V image

These are three keyboard shortcuts rolled into one, but they’re used together so often that it doesn’t make much difference. You should never highlight something and then copy it using the mouse. It wastes so much time that it can be better spent on other activities.

Instead, select the text you need to copy and then press Command + C to insert it to the clipboard. If you want to delete that text and move it elsewhere, you can cut it using Command + X. To paste, all you have to do is place the cursor in the correct spot and press Command + V.

Let these few shortcuts become second nature to you and you’ll get the job done faster than ever.

Select All (Command + A)

Sometimes it is necessary to select everything that is currently on a screen. You may need to copy and paste one complete document into another or move files within folders.

Whatever the reason, you don’t need to click and drag to select everything. Just press Command + A to select and highlight everything within the current space.

Undo (Command + Z)

Cancel icon

It’s easy to make mistakes when working on a project, especially if you’re implementing some of these keyboard shortcuts and haven’t mastered them yet. If you make a mistake, don’t worry – just press Command + Z to undo your last action.

It’s a lifesaver if you accidentally delete something (like the entire document using the “Select All” shortcut.) You can repeatedly use these Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts to undo your previous actions as long as the application allows.

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