17 Essential Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the best things about Macs is that they come with a variety of keyboard shortcuts that can save you time and make your life easier. Whether you’re a power user or just getting started with your first Mac, these keyboard shortcuts will help you get the most out of your machine. This article will share some essential Mac keyboard shortcuts everyone should know.

1. The Command Key

The Command key, also known as the CMD, is a modifier key on Apple keyboards. CMD key’s purpose is to allow the user to issue keyboard shortcuts to invoke various actions.

There are many keyboard shortcuts that use the Command key. Some of the most common are:

  • Copy: Command + C
  • Paste: Command + V
  • Cut: Command + X
  • Undo: Command + Z
  • Select All: Command + A

These are just a few of the shortcuts that use the Command key. For a full list of all the available shortcuts, please consult the documentation for your specific application or refer to this helpful guide from Apple.

2. Cut, Copy, and Paste

If you’re new to the Mac, you might wonder how to perform some of the most basic actions. One of the most fundamental things you can do on a computer is cut, copy, and paste. Here’s a quick guide on how to do it on a Mac.

  • Cut or copy text, simply highlight the desired text and press: Command + C (to copy) or Command + X (to cut).
  • Paste the text, position your cursor where you want the text to appear and press: Command + V.

If you want to get more advanced with your cutting, copying, and pasting, you can also use these shortcuts:

  • Cut or copy an entire line of text: Command + Shift + C or Command + Shift + X.
  • Paste text without formatting (i.e., just the plain text): Shift + Option + V.
  • Cycle through your clipboard history (i.e., the last few things you’ve copied or cut): Command + Shift + H.

This is handy if you accidentally overwrite something in your clipboard or want to reuse something you’ve already copied elsewhere.

3. Save As

This keyboard shortcut lets you save your current document as a new file. This is handy if you want to make a copy of your work without changing the original file.

  • Shift + Command + S

4. Print

There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts that can be useful on a Mac, but some are more essential than others. Here are the ones we think are the most important to know.

  • Print: Command + P

This shortcut will print whatever document or web page you have open. It’s a good one to know if you need to print something out quickly.

  • Save: Command + S

This shortcut will save whatever file you have open. If you’re working on a document, it’s a good idea to hit this shortcut often, so you don’t lose your work.

5. Open a New Window

If you need to open a new Finder or Safari window, this shortcut will do it for you. It’s handy for when you want to keep your current window open but also need to access something else.

  • New Window: Command + N

6. Undo and Redo

If you make a mistake while working on your Mac, you can quickly undo it using the Command + Z keyboard shortcut. If you accidentally undo something, you can redo it using the Command + Y keyboard shortcut.

These two shortcuts are essential for any Mac user, as they can save you a lot of time and frustration when working on your computer.

  • Undo: Command + Z
  • Redo: Command + Y

7. The Spotlight Search

Spotlight is one of the most useful features on the Mac, and it’s accessible with a simple keyboard shortcut: CMD + Space. This shortcut brings up a text field in the middle of your screen, where you can start typing to search for anything on your Mac—files, folders, apps, emails, contacts, and more. Spotlight will even do basic math for you.

To open a search result in Finder, just press Enter. To open it in another app, use the arrow keys to highlight the result you want, then press CMD + O.

If you want to customize what appears in Spotlight results, or change its settings, head to System Preferences > Spotlight.

  • Spotlight Search: Command + Space

8. Screenshots

  • Entire screen: Command + Shift + 3
  • Selected area: Command + Shift + 4
  • Selected area and edit it in Preview: Command + Shift + 5

9. Force Quit

If your Mac is frozen and unresponsive, you can force it to restart by pressing and holding the power button for about 6 seconds. This will forcibly quit any running applications and may help your Mac regain responsiveness.

10. Empty the Trash

If your Mac is anything like mine, the Trash is always full. Thankfully, there’s a keyboard shortcut for emptying the Trash. Press Command + Shift + Delete, and the Trash will be emptied in no time.

11. Get Info

There are many keyboard shortcuts that can be very useful when working on a Mac. To get started, here are some essential Mac keyboard shortcuts that can help you save time and be more productive.

  • Get Info: Command + I

When you want to view information about a file or folder, simply select it and press Command + I on your keyboard. This shortcut will open the “Get Info” window, which will give you detailed information about the selected item.

  • New Folder: Command + Shift + N

Suppose you need to create a new folder, press Command + Shift + N on your keyboard. This shortcut will create a new folder in the current location.

  • Duplicate File: Command + D

If you want to duplicate a file, select it and press Command + D on your keyboard. This shortcut will create an exact copy of the selected file.

12. Move to Trash

When you want to delete a file or folder, simply select it and press Command + Delete on your keyboard. This shortcut will move the selected item to the trash can.

  • Delete File: Command + Delete

13. Services

If you use a Mac, you know that there are built-in keyboard shortcuts for just about everything. But did you know that there are also a ton of keyboard shortcuts specific to the services that come with your Mac? Here are some of the essential ones:

  • Open the iCloud Drive folder in Finder: Shift + Command + I.
  • Access all of your iCloud documents from the iCloud website: Option + Command + D.
  • See a list of all of the files you’ve recently accessed in iCloud Drive: Command + Shift + A.
  • Put your Mac to sleep: Command + Option + Power button.
  • Restart your Mac: Command + Control + Power button.
  • Shut down your Mac: Option + Command + Power button.

14. Dashboard

The Dashboard is one of the most important features of your Mac. It gives you quick access to all your applications, documents, and files. To access the Dashboard, simply press the F4 key on your keyboard.

There are a few things you can do on the Dashboard:

– Launch an application: Simply click on the application icon you want to launch.

– Open a document: Click on the document icon you want to open.

– Access recent items: Click on the Recent Items icon (the clock face) to see a list of your most recently used items.

– Search for a file: Click on the Spotlight icon (the magnifying glass) and type in what you’re looking for.

15. Fast User Switching

As more and more people work from home, it’s become essential to switch between users on your Mac quickly. Whether you need to hop onto a different user account to check something for work or you want to let someone else use your computer for a bit, fast user switching is a great way to do it.

To enable Fast User Switching, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Then, select the “Login Options” tab and check the box next to “Show Fast User Switching menu as.” You can also choose whether you want the menu to show in the menu bar or the Dock.

Once Fast User Switching is enabled, you can switch users by clicking on the current user’s name in the menu bar (or in the Dock) and selecting another user. You can also use keyboard shortcuts:

  • Switch another user altogether: Command + Shift + Q

16. Mission Control

If you’re new to Mac, one of the first things you’ll want to get comfortable with is Mission Control. This shortcut gives you a quick way to see all of your open windows and apps and switch between them quickly.

To use Mission Control, press the F3 key (or thefn + F3 keys if you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar). You can also use the trackpad gesture or the Dock icon to access Mission Control.

Once you’re in Mission Control, you can use your mouse or trackpad to select the window or app you want to switch to. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts listed below to navigate Mission Control:

Navigate between spaces:

  • Move left a space: fn + left arrow key
  • Move right a space: fn + right arrow key

Switch between open apps:

  • Move left an app: CMD + left arrow key
  • Move right an app: CMD + right arrow key
  • Close an app or window: CMD + W

17. Launchpad

Assuming you’re referring to the OS X app Launchpad, here are some tips:

– To open Launchpad, click it in the Dock or press F4 on your keyboard.

– You can add apps to Launchpad by dragging them from the Applications folder or elsewhere on your Mac.

– To delete an app from Launchpad, simply press and hold the Option key while clicking the app’s icon, then click the Delete button that appears.

– If you have a lot of apps in Launchpad, you can create folders to organize them by dragging one app icon on top of another.

18. Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down

There are three ways to turn off your Mac: sleep, restart, and shut down.

  • Sleep: Press Command (⌘) – Option – Eject or select Sleep from the Apple () menu. Your Mac goes to sleep.

If you have a portable Mac, you can also put it to sleep by closing the lid.

  • Restart: Press Command (⌘) – Control – Eject or select Restart from the Apple () menu.
  • Shut Down: Press Option – Command – Eject or select Shut Down from the Apple () menu.


In conclusion, 17 essential Mac keyboard shortcuts can make using your Mac more efficient and save time. These shortcuts include common functions such as copying and pasting, undoing and redoing actions, saving documents, and quitting applications. They also include navigation shortcuts like opening Spotlight search, switching between open applications, and creating new folders in Finder. By familiarizing yourself with these keyboard shortcuts, you can streamline your workflow and increase your productivity on your Mac.

Mac keyboard shortcuts

Also read: The Ultimate Guide To Excel Spreadsheets

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