10 OS X Shortcuts That Make Life Easier!

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Most people who use OS X, Windows or any other operating system are people who don’t know a thing about keyboard shortcuts! It is either that or they think that keyboard shortcuts are too complicated to remember. We bet you find it convenient to use shortcuts to copy and paste, right? Why not expand your shortcut knowledge just a little bit more to make using OS X just that more productive and efficient!? Below, you will find 10 keyboard shortcuts that you will learn to absolutely love, if you take some time to get familiar with them.

Identifying key keys!

Before we get started with the actual shortcuts, it makes sense to take a minute to familiarize yourself with the keys that you will most use for shortcuts, while using OS X on your Mac. They are quickly identified below.

⌘  Command Key

⌃  Control Key

⌥ Option Key

⇧ Shift Key

⇪ Caps Lock Key

fn Function Key

OK, now that we know the important keys, let’s get started with the shortcuts!

1. Safe Mode Startup

  • Press Shift when your Mac starts up

This is an extremely easy to remember shortcut that will help you a lot when you are having trouble with your Mac. When your hardware or OS X is acting funny, the best thing would be to start up in safe mode, before diagnosing your Mac for problems.

2. Restart / Sleep / Shutdown

  • Hold down the Power Button for 1.5 seconds

Instead of using your mouse to put your Mac to sleep or to shut it down, simply and quickly press down the power button to pull up the Restart / Sleep / Shutdown dialog. You can then choose one of the three possible ways to proceed.

3. Taking a Screenshot of your Mac’s full screen

  • Command + Shift + 3 (Captures screenshot to a saved file)
  • Command + Shift + Control + 3 (Captures screenshot to the clipboard, so you can paste it anywhere you want)

Everyone one of us will need a screen shot at some point in time. Instead of using a screenshot application that you will have to download and then open up every time you need a screenshot, you can use these smart shortcuts instead.

4. Taking a screen shot of a particular Window on your Mac’s screen

  • Command + Shift + 4 (Captures screenshot to a saved file)
  • Command + Shift + Control + 4 (Captures screenshot to the clipboard, so you can paste it anywhere you want)

This small variation to the previously mentioned screenshot shortcut allows you to take a screenshot of a particular Window or area, using a simple drag and drop selector. Pretty useful when you don’t want your screenshot to show the whole of your Mac’s screen.

5. Cycle through your open application list

  • Command + Tab (Cycle forward to your next most recently used open applications)
  • Command + Shift + Tab (Cycle backward through your list of most recently used open applications)

When you have a lot of open applications like browsers, document editors, Skype and many other applications, it can become a bit overwhelming to multi-task by toggling between all the open windows. These keyboard shortcuts will quickly help you find the active Window you are looking for, without any clicking.

6. Shut down applications or programs that don’t respond

  • Command + Option + esc

This simple shortcut can make your Mac “Force Quit” a frozen application or an application that is making your Mac crawl.

7. Close all windows

  • Command + Option + W

Sometimes, after a couple of hours of browsing and working on your Mac, you might want to start afresh, with a desktop that has nothing open. Instead of closing about 20 windows one by one, you can hit this straightforward shortcut to start with a clean slate. You will still be prompted to save unsaved documents if you use this keyboard shortcut.

8. Useful Finder and spotlight shortcuts

  • Command + N (New Finder window)
  • Command + Accent (`) (Cycle through open Finder windows)
  • Command + Space Bar (Show Spotlight Field)

9. Open Applications folder

  • Command + Shift + A

Need to access an app without having to minimize your windows and look for shortcuts or folders on your desktop. Well, you can keep some app shortcuts on your dock. However, if your dock doesn’t have the space, you can always use this shortcut to quickly open up the applications folder, to then instantly find whatever application you are looking for.

10. Your Own keyboard shortcut!

Did you know that you can create your own keyboard shortcut, to open up a particular menu item in any of the applications installed on your Mac? To customize your own keyboard shortcut, please follow the steps below.

  • Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Keyboard
  • Shortcuts -> App Shortcuts -> Add (+)
  • Select the app that you wish to set to open with your shortcut
  • Open up the app and decide which menu item you want to set up a shortcut for
    • Please note that several menu items in an app will already have keyboard shortcuts
    • You can only create custom keyboard shortcuts for menu items that don’t already have a keyboard shortcut
  • Type the menu item in the Title field, as shown in the app’s menu
  • Type the key combination that you want to use in the keyboard shortcut field
  • Save and close
About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.

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