Using keyboard shortcuts on the Apple Mac helps you keep your fingers off the mouse and trackpad both in the macOS system and in individual apps. Using shortcuts can improve the workflow and get your work done faster. So that you can keep your hands on the keyboard, I've summarized the best keyboard shortcuts for the Mac here.

The best keyboard shortcuts for the Mac and the Apple operating system macOS make for better productivity. All useful shortcuts are explained here.

The best keyboard shortcuts for the Mac and the Apple operating system macOS make for better productivity. All useful shortcuts are explained here.

Preview to Mac keyboard shortcuts

In the following I will give you several Mac keyboard shortcuts for Mac OS X and macOS on the Apple computer as well as on the iMac and MacBook. With these you can increase your productivity and shorten some paths - in the operating system as well as in programs. I will use various keys as abbreviations. Therefore, the most important keys are explained here first:

  • cmd: Command key / Command Key (⌘) - Windows key on PC keyboards
  • ctrl: Control Key (ctrl) - Ctrl key on Windows keyboard
  • old: Alt key or Option key / Option Key (⌥)
  • shift: Shift key / Shift Key (⇧)
  • tab: Tabulator / Tab Key (⇥)
  • All important keys / symbols on the Apple Mac keyboard: In this guide

Quick navigation in the Finder folder

If you use the Finder and want to navigate it faster and execute folder options at the touch of a button, then this is extensively possible.

  • cmd-shift-D for the desk
  • cmd-shift-H for the user folder
  • cmd-shift-A for apps (programs / applications)
  • cmd-shift-I for the iCloud drive
  • cmd-shift-U for utilities
The Mac shortcut cmd-shift-U in the Finder takes you to the utilities (U stands for "Utilities")

The Mac shortcut cmd-shift-U in the Finder takes you to the utilities (U stands for "Utilities")

Search and find

If you have to search for something, use the key combination cmd-F. You can search for and find words, phrases and paragraphs in programs for word processing (TextEdit, Pages, Word, etc.) as well as in the browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and similar apps. In the Finder, a new Finder search window opens with cmd-F.

Back / Undo

One step too much in Photoshop or Affinity Photo, closing a tab in Safari too quickly, or accidentally deleting a paragraph in Pages - if you want to undo that, press cmd-Z. Actions can also be undone with ⌘Z in the Finder and in various other apps.

Open a new tab in the browser using a key combination

In Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Co. you can now open a new tab for displaying additional websites with just one click in the tab overview. You can also do this without a mouse and trackpad via shortcut: cmd-T. To reopen a closed tab, you can either use the undo trick from above or cmd-shift-T.

Go to Spotlight

If you want to search the whole system for documents, software, settings, drives and media, then you need Spotlight. You don't have to click / tap on the magnifying glass in the menu bar, just use the key combination cmd-spacebar. The Spotlight Shortcut can be used from anywhere.

Switch between apps

Do you want to switch between different open apps and not minimize, maximize and click around on the dock? Then use a key combination to switch apps: cmd-tab (⌘⇥). As in Windows, a visual list of the open programs appears under macOS. Hold down cmd and use the tabulator to move the selection to the app you want. So, if that's not the best keyboard shortcut for productivity ...

Call up the settings of an app

No matter which program you have opened under Mac OS X or macOS, with cmd comma you switch directly to the settings;)

Show dock / hide dock

The keyboard shortcut to show or hide the Dock on the Apple computer is cmd-alt-D. This would be represented as key symbols: ⌘⌥D

Insert text in your own style

You know this: You copy a text from a website, from another program or anywhere else and want to paste it into a word processing program such as Word or Pages. There you do this with cmd-V, but the text does not take on the desired formatting. Both in Word and in Pages you can copy and paste the style of a section of text; but you can also simply paste the copied text directly with a Mac key combination. The shortcut is: cmd-alt-shift-V or ⌘⌥⇧V. Admittedly, until you have practiced this automatically, you made a mistake several times - but in the end you work faster. Promised! ;)

Navigate / mark faster in text

To jump around in a text faster than is possible with the arrow keys, simply use the alt key. Hold the alt key and use the left and right arrows to skip entire words. To highlight the words at the same time, hold alt-shift (⌥⇧) and then use the arrow keys.

Mark everything with a keyboard shortcut

Another trick for word processing and similar applications: If you want to highlight the entire content, just press cmd-A.

Fine-tune volume and brightness

If you want to set the volume of the system and apps or the screen brightness on the Apple Mac not only in 16, but in 64 levels, then use alt-shift and the respective keys (F1, F2, F11, F12). A detailed post on the Mac trick I have here for you.

Mac screenshot shortcut key

If you want to take a screenshot on the Mac, there are various options. cmd-shift-3, for example, ensures that an image of the screen or all screens used is saved. With cmd-shift-4 you activate the area selection. If you press the space bar after cmd-shift-4, you can photograph a single window. A comprehensive guide to Apple Mac screenshots you can find here!

Enter the Apple symbol () using a key combination

If you don't always spell out the name of the technology giant Apple from Cupertino, but want to abbreviate it with the company logo, then you can simply use the corresponding symbol, which looks like this:  - The bitten apple can be easily realized with Alt, Shift and +. If you press the Option key (Alt), the Shift key and the Plus key (+) as a key combination, then appears in the selected text field, in the chat, in the message, in the document of the word processor or when entering text in the Apple symbol in an image editing program. In some cases, however, the correct font must be selected so that it is also displayed. Not all fonts have it implemented.

You can find further details as well as the instructions for inserting the symbol under Windows with this link: Enter Apple logo on Mac and Windows PC.

Accented letters: Enter accented letters on your Mac

Perhaps you'd rather be able to enter ä, à, á, â, æ, ã, å, ā as well as similar letters without having to search or copy from Wikipedia. This is possible if you have activated a certain function in the Mac operating system and then long press the corresponding key. The shown letters with accents or special characters come about when you press the A key for a long time. This gives an overview in which each of the letters is assigned a number. If you press this on the keyboard, the corresponding letter is inserted. For the U key z. B. the displayed: ü (1), û (2), ù (3), ú (4) and ū (5).

Details and instructions for activating the function are available here: Mac tip - press and hold for accented / accented letters.

Keyboard shortcuts for reference: Inexpensive book on the subject

If you cannot find the right keyboard shortcuts for your concern or if only a few are useful for you, then you can also give yourself the full collection of Mac shortcuts in the form of an inexpensive reference book. So if you'd rather use a book to look up and learn, then take a look at this recommendation: Book tip - keyboard shortcuts for the Mac by Jonas Kraft. The book not only offers a large collection of Mac keyboard shortcuts on 120 pages, but they are also very well organized. It is already apparent in the table of contents that attention is paid to efficiency. Because the tips are organized by apps: Music, Photos, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Cards, Preview, Notes, Reminders, Contacts and so on.

Many Mac keyboard shortcuts also work on the iPad

If you use a Bluetooth keyboard or a so-called folio case with keyboard on your iPad or iPad Pro, you can use the iPadOS key combinations on this. Many of the shortcuts for the tablet operating system come directly from macOS. To display the shortcuts that can be used in the system or in the currently open app, simply hold down the command key (⌘). You can find more details on this as well as an overview of the most important iPad keyboard shortcuts in this guide: iPad Shortcuts - Key combinations for the Bluetooth keyboard on the Apple tablet.

Source, questions and answers

I once again became aware of the big, extensive topic of “Apple Mac keyboard shortcuts” through a blog post from SetApp. SetApp is a software subscription provider that brings you dozens of useful apps for a small price on your Mac as you like - each as a full version and without advertising. You can find details about the offer (which now includes more than 185 apps) and the free 7-day test in this post. Dealing with dozens of apps and their functions, it was only logical that SetApp would at some point also bring out a shortcut list. To the website of the app subscription provider you come with this link.

Do you still have questions about Mac keyboard shortcuts or do you want to show your own workflow improvers? Then leave a comment! The list here can certainly be expanded; and you never stop learning ...


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