Top 10 Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

If there was a Mount Rushmore for Mac Keyboard Shortcuts, and it had room for ten of them, these would be the ten. If you want to do more with your Mac, in less time, with fewer mistakes, and to have more fun too, you have to learn and use these keyboard shortcuts!

⌘-B: Bold

Almost every app that lets you format text includes a ⌘-B shortcut: Mail, Pages, Word, Numbers, PowerPoint, and more. Even WordPress’ block editor respects the ⌘-B shortcut. It’s a toggler, so if you use it on a selection that’s already bold, it un-bolds it.

⌘-I: Italic

Another universally-adopted shortcut. Works almost everywhere. Like ⌘-B, it’s a toggler– if the text is already italicized, ⌘-I un-italicizes it.

⌘-P: Print…

Bring up the Print… dialog box in a hurry. In many cases the settings in the box don’t need changing, so you can just hit the Enter key (or Return) to click the button in the lower right corner of the box. Works everywhere.

Tip: you don’t have to wait for the button to appear! You can hit ⌘-P, then Enter in very quick succession. Try it!

⌘-S: Save

Macs don’t crash much (anymore) so you’re not likely to lose unsaved work due to some sort of unexpected shut-down. Saved work is never lost– so you should save all the time! Train yourself to use ⌘-S whenever you’ve done something that you think is worth saving. For me, every time I pause, I hit ⌘-S.

Bonus: if you’re working on a new document and it hasn’t been saved even once, ⌘-S will pop up the Save As… box so you can name it. No need for you to go to Save As… in the File menu for that. So it’s ⌘-S when you want to save, whether the document has been named or not.

Works in every app that has Save in the File menu, which is almost all of them. One exception: FileMaker, which saves automatically, so they hijacked ⌘-S for their own purpose… in this case, for “Sort.”

⌘-Shift-D: Go to the Desktop

This one is really interesting, and a huge time-saver. In a nutshell, it opens up the Desktop folder. Try it: open a Finder window and type ⌘-Shift-D. Presto, the Desktop folder appears. That’s nice, especially when you’re looking at some other folder and you want to see the Desktop folder’s contents. But it’s even nicer when you’re saving a document for the first time and you want to save it to the Desktop. Amazingly, ⌘-Shift-D works in Save… dialog boxes too, so just press those keys and save your document where you can find it. Also works in Open… dialog boxes.

⌘-A: Select All

Select All does just what it sounds like, and it works everywhere: in the Finder, in Word, in Excel, in Pages, in Mail, you name it.


The Big Four

Undo, Cut, Copy, and Paste have been with the Mac since the very first day, and just about every app supports the ⌘-Z, ⌘-X, ⌘-C, and ⌘-V keyboard shortcuts. Notice that the keys are right next to each other. Get good with these shortcuts– you’re going to need them, and they’ll save you gobs of time.

⌘-Z: Undo

Undo the last thing you did with ⌘-Z. Quality apps allow you to undo multiple times, stepping backward one move at a time, by tapping ⌘-Z over and over. Incredibly handy.

⌘-X: Cut

Want to move some text from here to there? That’s a job for Cut and Paste. The first step– Cut– puts the text (or graphic) onto the Clipboard for temporary storage. Do it quickly and easily with ⌘-X. (Then go to where you want to paste it, before you forget.)

⌘-C: Copy

Like Cut, but safer, because it doesn’t remove the stuff you Copy. I used Copy a lot while rearranging my Master’s Thesis even though Cut was the right move because I didn’t want to risk having a crash and losing what I’d cut. That meant extra work for me (after pasting, I had to go back to where the stuff I’d copied was and clear it out) but it was safer. Nowadays, you don’t have to worry like I did because the Mac almost never crashes. But still, Copy is the safer move.

Of course you might be copying because you want to duplicate something, ending up with the text or graphic in two (or more) places. In that case, ⌘-C is perfect.

Tip: if you want to be able to copy things without worrying about losing them, get the app called Paste. Highly recommended (by me). Apple will probably buy the app themselves one day, it’s that good. Read all about it here.

⌘-V: Paste

The keyboard shortcut doesn’t make a lot of sense but that’s because ⌘-P was already used for Print. But that doesn’t make it any less good a shortcut! Every app uses ⌘-V for Paste. There are variations– Paste and Match Style is my favorite– and the variations have their own shortcuts, but in daily use ⌘-V is the shortcut you’ll use most.


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