30 Jan OS X keyboard shortcuts

This list of keyboard shortcuts is more of a recommended set than a full list. The concept behind it is to make you more productive. But to each his own : go find your own useful shortcuts. Here are two places to go for a more comprehensive set :

System navigation and functions


Opens Spotlight to search your system.

With the release of OS X El Capitan, Spotlight is much improved. For even more functionality, consider apps such as Alfred or Quicksilver.


Launches the application switcher and brings your last active application to the front. Holding the Command key allows you to :

  • press Tab again to move to the next app
  • hold the Tab key to cycle through the apps
  • use the arrow keys to select a specific app
  • use the mouse pointer to select a specific app
  • press Q to quit the highlighted app

Launches a Force-Quit application menu to help quit non-responsive apps.


Quits the current app.


Closes the current app’s window or tab.


Opens the Preferences window for most apps.


Press any brightness button while holding Option to open display preferences, useful for when you’re working with external displays. Sound, Mission Control and Keyboard preferences can be opened in the same process.


Opens the Find dialogue box or menu in most apps. Extremely useful in :

  • Text editors and word processors
  • Web browsers
  • PDF document readers

Have a look at the power of the Find and Replace function.

Working with text and files

  • Creates a new file in Finder
  • Creates a new document in an app
  • Opens a new window in other apps
  • Creates a new folder in Finder
  • Opens a private window in Chrome and Safari (Command-Shift-P in Firefox)

Copies text or a file to the clipboard.


Cuts text or a file and copies to the clipboard.


Pastes text or a file from the clipboard.


Pastes text from the clipboard and retains the formatting of the area you’re pasting in.


Duplicates a file in Finder, objects in apps like Illustrator, Sketch, or OmniGraffle.



Command-Shift-Z or Command-Y



Save. Do this often.

Selecting text and items


Select all words and content within a document or within a text box, for example.


Left and right arrows : select whole words, one at a time.

Up and down arrows : select whole paragraphs, one at a time.


Left and right arrows : select whole lines.

Up and down arrows : Select the remainder of the document.

Screen captures

My workflow : to configure screen capture preferences, you can find terminal commands that modify the location of saved files and their format. You can also use Onyx by Titanium Software (titanium.free.fr). It doubles as one of the best system maintenance utility, along with IceClean that’s due for a v4.0 update soon.’

Capture you whole screen, save an image of it to the desktop.


Capture a part of your screen, save an image of it to the desktop.


Capture your whole screen, save it to the clipboard.


Capture a part of your screen, save it to the clipboard.

Command-Shift-4 then the space bar

Capture an application window or menu bar, save an image of it to the desktop.

Command-Shift-Control-4 then the space bar

Capture an application window or menu bar, save it to the clipboard.