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January 10, 2012

The Top 5 Mac OSX Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

January 10, 2012

Once in a while, as I show a coworker or client something on my computer, I get a “How in the heck did you do that so fast?!” reaction. I am a huge fan of quick keys, or keyboard shortcuts that make quick work of tasks like minimizing browser windows and moving files to the trash. Here are just a few of my most-often used keyboard shortcut time savers.

  1. Snag a Sneak Peek. Have you ever opened or shared the wrong file? If you have OS 10.5 or later, you can easily eliminate those "oops" moments — take a "peek" of the file by tapping the space bar. This feature works great with most standard media file formats (MP3, MOV, MP4, JPG, PNG, PDF etc) and with iWork and iLife native files (Keynote, Numbers, Pages).
  2. An Easier Way to Dump. If you're like me, you were originally "trained" to drag things to the trash to delete a file or to eject a disc, but you can save yourself a lot of extra "mouse-work" by learning to tame your trash habits:
    • To move a file or folder to the trash, select it and use Command + Delete.
    • To instantly empty the trash itself (without the annoying confirmation) use Option + Shift + Command + Delete
    • To eject a disc, camera or other server or hard drive, select it and type Command + E
  3. Quick!!  Hide!! Never be caught off guard by an impromptu visit from your boss or co-workers again... simply hit Command + M to instantly minimize the window and keep it away from prying eyes. "What if the other windows I have open are MORE incriminating?" you might be asking? Easy... use F11 to instantly minimize ALL open windows. If you're on a laptop or using a keyboard that utilizes the function keys for other purposes, simply use Control + F11 (and yes, this trick will give you access to your other function keys too.)
  4. Cycle and Recycle.  Don't waste your time navigating from program to program or file to file via the Dock or through Menus, instead start using Command + Tab to cycle forward through your open applications and Command + Shift + Tab to cycle backwards through them. And some applications (Chrome and Photoshop for example) support a similar short-cut — try using Control + Tab and Control + Shift + Tab to cycle forward and background through any files (or tabs) you have open.
  5. Quit Already! Yes Macs are great, but they can still fall prey to renegade applications that suddenly decide they don't want to "play nice". When you're faced with such a dilemma, don't fret, just click Command + Option + Shift +  ESC  and hold for 3 seconds to "Force Quit" the renegade app and regain control. Yes, you'll lose any unsaved data, but you'll save yourself from tearing your hair out from frustration. You can also access the Force Quit feature by holding the Control + Option keys down while clicking on the app's icon in the Dock and select "Force Quit" from the pop-up menu that appears.

BONUS TIPS FOR LION USERS: Just Swipe It. With OS Lion, Mac ushers in a new alternative to the standard "keyboard shortcut" — gestures. While it still feels a bit strange to me, I do find myself using a few of the "triple finger swipe" ones. Using three fingers on your trackpad:

  • Swipe up to see all currently open spaces, apps and open files
  • Swipe left or right to cycle through Full-Screen apps (this only works with full-screen enabled applications)
  • Spread (using 3 Fingers + Thumb) to reveal the desktop (if you have Lion try it! It kinda feels like you're just flicking everything out of the way)

What about you? Do you have any time saving keyboard shortcuts up your sleeve?

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