Easter Shortcuts: 30 Fascinating Mac Tips

Easter is approaching quickly and the spirit of spring is in the air. What better time to re-think the way you work with your Mac, and take on board a few time saving tips and shortcuts? We won’t be covering the basics, and assume you’re already familiar with using the keyboard to copy, paste and save!

There’s something for everyone, whether you’d like to show Expose in slow motion, quickly empty your Trash, automatically save text to a sticky note or zoom in and out of your screen.

The Basics

Before getting started, here is a quick explanation of the different symbols we’ll be using. Some are used more often than others, but they’re all required at some point to perform the below actions:

⌘ = Command
⇧ = Shift
⌥ = Option or Alt
^ = Control

Interface & Video

⌘ + H = Hide window
^ + Mouse Wheel = Zoom in and out of the screen
⌘ + ⌥ + D = Show or hide the Dock
^ + ⌥ + ⌘ + 8 = Invert the video colours used on your display
⌘ + Tab = Scroll through current applications
⇧ + Expose = Shows the Expose animation in slow motion (also works for Dashboard + Front Row)


^ + ⌘ + D = Opens selected word in the dictionary
⌘ + ⇧ + Y = Saves selected text to a sticky note on your desktop (in Cocoa apps)
Select Text + Drag to Desktop = Saves a text clipping to your desktop
⌘ + T = Show the font panel in an application


⌘ + ⇧+ 3 = Take fullscreen picture
⌘ + ⇧ + 4 = Take selected area screenshot
⌘ + ⇧ + 4 + Space = Take screenshot of an individual window

Finder & Files

⌥ + ⌘ + Escape = Bring up Force Quit window to kill a certain application
⌘ + Space = Open Spotlight
⌘ + I = Get Info
⌘ + W = Close Finder window
⌘ + ⌥ + W = Close all Finder windows
⌘ + D = Duplicate a file in Finder
⌘ + [ = Go backwards in history in Finder
⌘ + ] = Go forwards in history in Finder
⌘ + ⇧ + H = Go to your home folder
⌘ + ⇧ + Delete = Empty trash
⌘ + ⌥ + ⇧ + Delete = Empty trash silently
⌘ + L = Make an alias
⌘ + Delete = Move file or folder to trash
⌘ + E = Eject the disk drive

Logout and Shutdown

⇧ + ⌘ + ⌥ + Q = Quick log out (occurs immediately)
^ + ⌘ + Eject = Close all open apps and restart
⌥ + ⌘ + Eject = Sleep

Do Share!

Whilst these are certainly a few great shortcut commands to remember, there are many more. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments – I’m interested to see which ones you find useful!

  • http://www.cuby.co.nr Cuby

    Really useful ones for Screenshots are:
    ⇧ + ⌘ + 4 (Selection Screenshot)
    ⇧ + ⌘ + 3 (Full Screen Shot)

    Tip: Images are saved to the desktop, but if you hold down the Control key (^) while performing these shortcuts, the screenshot is saved to the clipboard, allowing you to paste it into an application like Photoshop easily.

    • http://www.cuby.co.nr Cuby

      Oh, and forgot to add, if you enter in the short cuts for those Screenshots I’ve named above, before clicking anywhere, tap the SpaceBar, which allows you to take a pic of only one window, or dock icon, or whatever. Really useful!

    • http://www.sticktacular.com Zach

      This is awesome! I know most of these, but I like the Apple + Shift + Eject, along with the shift + apple + h

  • http://laberso.ru Alex S Berso

    Thank You. Especially for ^ + ⌥ + ⌘ + 8

  • http://another-perfect-world.org/ Vasili

    ⌘ + Delete and ⌘ + ⇧ + Delete have got to be my favorites. Every since I started using QuickSilver, I try not to use the mouse. Combine Spaces with that and it’s perfect. :)

  • Michael

    Shortcuts are the key to life! Apple has a good list of shortcuts on the support site. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1343

  • Prissi

    It may be stupid of me, but it took me for-freaking-ever (to the tune of a year) to figure out that Command-down arrow would open/launch a file (similar to pressing enter on Windows). No amount of Googling I did (I guess I didn’t use the correct keywords) gave me the answer even though I learned plenty of other shortcuts. Urgh. My world is a much better place now that I figured that out.

    • pi

      thank you for pointing that out…… my world is also better now ! :)

      • http://nikdo.org Vitezslav Valka

        I am using ⌘ + O for that same reason!

  • colorlab

    Lovely post for a new mac user as myself.

  • http://putthingsoff.com Nick Cernis

    Holding down ⌘ while clicking the title bar of any window with an icon next to the title brings up a drop-down list of the directory structure below that location. Clicking on the folders in the drop down list then opens that folder in the Finder. This is really handy for, say, quickly opening the folder that the Photoshop document you’re working on lives in without having to open a new Finder window and trawl through deeply nested directory structures.

    • http://nikdo.org Vitezslav Valka

      Coooool! Thank you for saving my life! :-)

    • Jorge S

      I tried that in Safari and it shows the directory structure for the site! Great tip, THANKS!

  • Anonymous

    Combine any of the screenshot combinations with Control ^ and it will copy to your clipboard instead of your desktop.

  • http://dttvb.com/ the DtTvB

    ⇧ + ^ + ⌘ + 4
    ⇧ + ^ + ⌘ + 3

    These are also for taking screenshot, but instead, it goes to the clipboard, similar to Windows’ print screen behavior.

  • Cheez

    thanks for sharing those shortcuts :D

  • http://www.aspektas.com/ Synook

    ⌘ + Space = Open Spotlight dialog

    Is there any shortcut for locking your screen?

  • pi

    cmd + f3 = genius

  • http://www.lorettesamuel.be Samuel Lorette

    Thank you for this sort but so useful article.

  • http://nikdo.org Vitezslav Valka

    Thank you for this. Does anybody know how to de-minimize windows minimized with ⌘ + M shortcut?

  • Allan

    Definitely the bread and butter of shortcuts, great for a newbie, but I did learn one about inverting the colors on the display. That will be a great addition to my April Fool’s Day arsenal. Thanks!

  • http://jasonlarosedesign.com Jason

    In list view, you can (obviously) navigate a folder using the up/down arrows, but you can also expand and collapse folders using the right/left arrows.

  • Mike Myers

    ⌘ + ` (tilde) will cycle through the windows of the current application. This is more convenient than using Exposé in my experience.

    ⇧+⌘ +` cycles through them in the opposite order.

    (In Exposé, the Tab key can be used to cycle through windows too.)

  • http://www.sciamanna.eu/blog Andrea

    As a new user, with an iMac, I’ve got “lucky” getting a keyboard withou numpad (and, I believe, other keys). Now, how I can have the same effect of following Windows combination?

    CTRL+Left/Right (unlike windows, this combination move to the start/end of the line, instead of moving through single words)

    • lowell

      Cancel – Esc
      PagUp – Shift-Spacebar
      PagDown – Spacebar

      home/end use different design approaches here vs. in windows. there are keyboard shortcuts for them, but i’m not going to give them to you because they’re not what you expect. instead, use command-left/right arrow to go to start/end of line & use option-left/right arrow to skip through words.

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    Anyone interested in a well laid out .pdf version? I’m planning on creating one soon. Email me – biwerw at gmail dot com and I’ll send um out to whom ever is interested when I’ve completed it.

    Feel free to email any others you would like to see on the list…

    • http://www.lasseolsen.no Lasse Endresen Olsen

      sent you an mail. I would like one.. cool to print one and have one on the wall… but dont be afraid if you do it to add alot of more shortcuts:)

    • Lyn

      Please Send PDF shortcut as I am new to mac and struggling
      Thank you

  • http://www.sciamanna.eu/blog Andrea

    Wouldn’t be better a web page or even this same post updated time by time?

  • http://www.rossgardt.de Benedikt R.

    Thank you for the great screenshot shortcuts. Thought this only works by opening the basic tool that comes with the mac.

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  • http://bohea.co.uk Dix-Huit

    Joy. Good post.

  • http://lisetiffner.blogspot.com L.J.T.

    Page Down = Control-Down Arrow
    Page Up = Control-Up Arrow

    Seems stupid to miss these specific buttons, but being a new mac user I need them to ensure complete conversion.

  • http://www.cartogaia.com Adam

    I would die without the Spaces shortcuts: ^+arrow keys to switch between spaces.

    I also like that ⌘+arrow keys opens folders in finder, as well as opens programs. I used to fumble around for ⌘+O until I learned that trick. The less mousing, the better!

  • http://www.mysherbrooke.com root

    ⇧ + ^ + ⌘ + 4+Spacebar = shot of a window (shadow included).

  • http://www.mysherbrooke.com root

    Erratum: ⇧ + ⌘ + 4+Spacebar. Sorry for that, slip of the finger…(Or, please delete my previous comment…)

  • hbergmann

    ⌥ + ⌘ + 8 = Toggle Zoom
    ⌥ + ⌘ + = = Zoom In
    ⌥ + ⌘ + – = Zoom Out
    ⌥ + ⌘ + y = start Quick Look Slideshow for selected images in Finder (holy shit it works with music too!)
    ⌥ + ⌘ + i = Show Inspector (static Get Info window) for selected file(s) in Finder
    ^ + ⌥ + ⌘ + , = decrease contrast
    ^ + ⌥ + ⌘ + . = increase contrast
    ⌘ + ⎋ = launch Front Row (⎋=power)
    ^ + F8 = Focus on menu extras
    fn + ⇡ = page up
    fn + ⇣ = page down
    fn + ⇠ = home
    fn + ⇢ = end
    fn + ⌫ = delete forwards
    ⌘or⌥ + ⌫ = delete entire line of text to the left
    fn + ⌘or⌥ + ⌫ = delete entire line of text to the right
    ⌘ + ⌥ + ⌫ + ⎋ + ⏎ + r⇧ + l⇧ + esc +  + ⏏ = suck disc back into slot loading drive
    ⌘ + ⍢ = summon penguin butler

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Wow – Thanks for the extra shortcuts!

    • Adi

      That was gr8…v helpful! but


      ⌘ + ⌥ + ⌫ + ⎋ + ⏎ + r⇧ + l⇧ + esc +  + ⏏ = suck disc back into slot loading drive


      Lol…r u kidding me????

  • kellen

    Desktop: ^ + Eject -> Return = To shutdown
    Laptop: Power -> Return = To shutdown

    • http://myshal.blogspot.com myshal

      thanks for that! i’ve been dying to find something that matched the keyboard combo that windows has for shut down. i knew it had to exist for mac! thanks v. much!

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  • Pac

    Hey! …thanks.

    I want to use this shortcuts but my keyboard is in SPANISH, do you have any suggestions?

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  • Son

    Is there a shortcut for renaming files? I’m looking for something similar to the F2 key in Windows where it highlights the name of the file, allowing you to change it.

    • Ola

      I think the return key does that. Not sure as I’m writing from a iPod

      • Son

        Sweet. Thanks! I always assumed return would open the file so I never tried it.

  • http://devlos.com Dave

    In a Finder window, jump through view modes.
    ⌘ + 1 view as icons
    ⌘ + 2 view in list mode
    ⌘ + 3 view in columns
    ⌘ + 4 view in coverflow.

  • http://mediahacker.org ansel

    Is there any shortcut in the Finder that starts the cursor in the window’s search box (not global Spotlight)?

    • Gaël

      ⌘ + f : open the search box (Mac OS X), open Sherlock (on Mac OS 9 for nostalgic users…)

  • Gaël

    In the finder, for a selected file / folder :
    ⌘ + ⇣ = open file / folder
    ⌘ + ⇡ = come back into the previous folder

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  • rob

    To just turn off the screen press; ^ + ⌘ + Eject
    Move the mouse or press any key to continue as normally.

  • rob

    To turn off the screen press; ⇧ + ^ + Eject
    Move the mouse or press any key to continue as normally.

    (Sorry for double post, entered wrong key!!!)

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