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20 keyboard shortcuts that can make you a more powerful Mac user

Chuck La Tournous | Feb. 13, 2015
If you've used a Mac longer than the span of a typical Hollywood awards show, you probably know that Command-P means print, Command-C means copy, and Command-V means paste. That great--it shows you already have a taste for how keyboard shortcuts can save you time. There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts for just about anything you can do with a mouse. But shortcuts can be intimidating. They're not always intuitive and they can take a lot of time and practice to commit to "finger memory."

If you've used a Mac longer than the span of a typical Hollywood awards show, you probably know that Command-P means print, Command-C means copy, and Command-V means paste. That great — it shows you already have a taste for how keyboard shortcuts can save you time. There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts for just about anything you can do with a mouse. But shortcuts can be intimidating. They're not always intuitive and they can take a lot of time and practice to commit to "finger memory."

Adding just a few keyboard shortcuts to your repertoire can be painless and easy. And painless in more ways than one, since shortcuts mean spending less time on the mouse, which in turn means a lower risk of Carpel Tunnel and Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

Let's take a look at three of the places where you probably spend most of your time on the Mac and see how keyboard shortcuts can make you more efficient.

The Finder

You may not think of it as an application at all, but the Finder is the glue that holds the rest of your Mac experience together, and you probably spend more time here than you realize.

If you want to get to the Finder (or if you prefer to think of it this way, your desktop), but you can barely see it through all the open application windows, there's a way to clear things up in a snap. Hold down the Command and Option keys and click anywhere on your desktop. That key combination takes you to the Finder while hiding all other applications at the same time. If you're already in the Finder, type Command-Option-H for the same effect. (By the way, this shortcut isn't only for the Finder — holding Command-Option as you click on any application will simultaneously hide all your other open apps.)

But what if it's open folders and not apps that are cluttering your desktop? There's a shortcut for that too: Command-W (think "Withdraw Windows") will close one window; Command-Option-W will close them all in one fell swoop.

To get to your Applications folder from the Finder without having to dig down through your hard drive, just type Command-Shift-A, for Applications. (Similarly, Command-Shift-U will bring you straight to the Utilities folder.)

You may already know that typing Command-Space will invoke Spotlight. While it's open, type the first few letters of the application, folder, or file you're looking for and Spotlight will likely find what you're after before you finish typing its name. Pressing Return will open the object of your search.

To give credit where it's due, Windows had it first, but there's a keyboard shortcut that will let you cycle through all your open applications. Hold down the Command key and tap Tab. You'll see a nice big bar that displays all your open apps. Each tap of the Tab key will take you to the next application, from right to left. Want to go the other way? Hold down the Shift key in addition to Command and Tab through your apps in reverse.

 

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