15 Cool Mac Keyboard Shortcuts You Must Know

Last Updated: September 27, 2016

The trackpad on a Mac is definitely the gold standard in laptop trackpads, and it makes interfacing with the Mac easier and, to be completely honest, kinda fun. However, when you are busy working on an article, or any keyboard intensive task, switching over to the mouse cursor can be a pain. I mean, that is exactly why shortcuts like Cmd+B to bold, Cmd+U to underline etc. were introduced. No one wants to have to select text and click on a button to format it, when using keyboard can be a lot faster. Mastering some important shortcuts on your Mac can prove to be a big time saver, and productivity booster in the long term, which is why we are listing down 15 keyboard shortcuts you should be using on your Mac:

1. Automatic Google Search in Safari

Say you’re reading a book in iBooks or a PDF file mailed to you by your co-worker, and there is something written in there, that you want to run a Google search on. How do you go about doing this? Most people would select the text, launch safari, paste it into the address bar and hit Return. While this is a completely acceptable way to do this, let me tell you about a much easier method.

Simply select the text that you want to run a Google search on, and press Command + Shift + L, and your Mac will automatically launch Safari, and look it up in Google for you. How cool is that?

2. Quickly Compose a Mail

This shortcut only works in the default Mail app, which isn’t really good, but can still prove to be a timesaver in certain situations. If you need to send a quick email, simply press Command + Shift + I and the Mail app will launch with the compose mail window open inside it. You can directly start writing your mail, instead of having to face your inbox first.

3. Delete Complete Words

There are times when you might need to delete entire words, and you end up pressing and holding the delete key on your keyboard to repeatedly delete letters off the word. What if the word was something very long like “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” (it’s a real word. Google it). If you were to press and hold delete for this word, it would take you a long time, and it will definitely get annoying. However, you can delete an entire word in one tap, simply by pressing Option + Delete, saving you from looking like an idiot in-front of everyone.

4. Scroll to the Top / Bottom

Sure, the trackpad is good enough that you are quite content with making multiple, fast two finger swipes on it to move a long page up or down, but what if you were reading a 500 page archive, and needed to get to the bottom? That’s a lot of swiping. Thankfully, you can press Command + Up/Down to scroll directly to the top or bottom of the page. This will definitely save you a lot of time while browsing single page websites that are shamelessly long.

5. Sample the Sound Level While Adjusting Volume

Adjusting the volume is thankfully possible using the keyboard. However, how do you know when you’re at the optimum volume level for a painless hearing experience on your Mac? Well, macOS allows users to sample the sound as they make adjustments to the volume control. This can be done by pressing Shift while increasing or decreasing the volume. Your Mac will make small blips when you increase or decrease the volume.

volume control

6. Directly Launch Settings for Quick Actions

The function keys on a Mac all correspond to specific quick actions, like adjusting the brightness of your display, or the volume etc. Obviously you knew that, but did you know that if you press Option + Function Key, it will open the settings pane for that function in System Preferences, where you can tweak the available settings. This can save valuable time that would otherwise have been spent launching System Preferences, looking for the setting and then tweaking it.

7. Scrub Through YouTube Videos

YouTube videos are usually fun to watch, until your family members force you to watch an extremely long video of your little cousin crawling. Well, thankfully, YouTube videos can be scrubbed in increments of 10%, by simply using the number keys on your keyboard. Just press 1, 2, 3 and so on, to scrub the video to 10% completion, 20% completion and so on, making it easier to scrub through YouTube videos.

8. Directly Delete Items Without Moving to Trash

One of the features in Windows explorer that I missed a lot in Finder was the ability to permanently delete files (using Shift + Delete) and not having to deal with using the Recycle Bin for every single file, ever. Turns out, Finder has that feature too, it’s just a little more complicated than its Windows counterpart. You can use Command + Option + Delete to directly delete a file without moving it to Trash.

delete files immediately

9. Move Background Window without Bringing it into Focus

If you have multiple windows open on your Mac, you might want to move some of the background windows, just to make it look more organised, but as soon as you click on the title bar of the window, it comes into the foreground, making your main working window disappear behind it. That’s definitely not cool. However, there is a way that can allow you to reposition background windows without moving them into the foreground.

This can be done by pressing Command and then dragging the background window to wherever you want it to be. The window will be repositioned and it will not be brought into the foreground.

move background windows(1)

10. Text Autocomplete

Macs also have a rather powerful autocomplete feature for text. While typing a word, simply press Escape (or F5), and it will bring up a text completion drop-down menu with a list of words that match the spelling you have entered. You can choose the word you want and it will automatically be entered into the text field for you. The best part about this is that the autocomplete feature learns your writing style and over time, you will see it suggest words that it thinks you are most likely to type in the context of the sentence. Amazing, isn’t it?

mac keyboard shortcuts text autocomplete

11. Spotlight: Reveal Selected Item in Finder

I really love Spotlight. It’s fast, and it can locate my files with ease. However, I’m not always looking for a file just to open it. Sometimes I’m looking for a file just to find out where it’s located, or to find the path to it. Unfortunately, the only way I can do this on Spotlight, is by scrolling to the bottom of the Spotlight results and clicking on “Show all results in Finder”, which launches Finder with the search results, and I have to look for the file again. 

Fortunately, there is a way by which you can simply select an item in the Spotlight results and view it in Finder, directly. All you need to do, is press Command + Enter while the item of interest is selected, and it will be revealed in Finder. From there, you can use Command + Up Arrow to move up in folders, or just use Command + I to get info about the item, including its path and a lot more information.

12. Spotlight: Skip to Dictionary Results

I use Spotlight a lot for looking up meanings of weird words that I have never heard of in my life, and Spotlight doesn’t really fail me; except for that little issue with having to scroll down to the Dictionary results. It would be better if I could skip directly to them, wouldn’t it? Well, fortunately, it is possible to skip directly to the dictionary results for a Spotlight search. Simply search for the word that you want to look up in the dictionary, and press Command + L, and Spotlight will directly skip to the dictionary results for the word.

skip to dictionary results

13. Quickly Toggle Do not Disturb Mode in Mac

When you receive as many notifications as I do, it’s a necessity to turn on Do Not Disturb, just to be able to work in peace. To do this, I have always had to swipe on my trackpad, pull the notification center down to reveal the “Do Not Disturb” toggle, and then click on it to turn it on or off. It’s not very complicated, but it does take some time.

However, there is a way that can allow you to toggle Do Not Disturb mode on your Mac with just one click. All you need to do, is press Option and click on the Notification Center icon on the menu bar, and Do Not Disturb mode will get toggled.

14. Instant Full-Screen Slideshow

Not every photo I take goes into my Photos library, and a lot of them are just saved on my Mac, to keep them away from prying eyes, or just photos that I haven’t sorted out yet. Browsing through these on Finder is easy enough via Quick Look, but it would be even better if I could just view them as a slideshow, don’t you think? Well, that is entirely possible.

You can simply select the images you want in the quick slideshow, and press Command + Option + Y, and viola! Your pictures are now playing in a slideshow. You can quit this anytime you want, and also move forward, backward or pause the slideshow.

15. Move Items in Finder, Instead of Copying

Finder is good at doing what it does, but right off the bat, one thing that every new Mac user will observe about Finder, is that it can’t cut and paste files between folders. Sure, you can drag a file and drop it into a different folder, and it gets moved there, but it’s easier to do it using keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + X, Ctrl + V on Windows. While Finder does not offer any method to “cut” files from a directory, it does offer a way to move copied files into new directories, which is basically the same thing.

All you have to do, is copy the file you want to move by using “Command + C”, go to the new location where you want to move the file, and instead of using “Command + V” to paste the file, you can use “Command + Option + V” to move  the file to the new location.

SEE ALSO: 26 Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

Become a Mac Maestro using these macOS Keyboard Shortcuts

If you don’t already use keyboard shortcuts heavily in your day to day use of your Mac, you need to start using them right now. It might take you some time to getting used to, but at the end of the day, these keyboard shortcuts end up saving you a lot of time, and making life easier. Once you start using keyboard shortcuts on your Mac, you will realize that it’s almost always easier and more intuitive to use the keyboard to get around your system and perform tasks, instead of using a mouse to do the same.

As always, we would like to know what you think about these keyboard shortcuts that we curated and shared with you. If you think we missed some really great ones (it happens, there are a lot!), feel free to point them out to us in the comments section below.