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In the terms of using computer, I’m more of a keyboard guy. This doesn’t mean that I’m not using mouse, but I prefer to put my hands on the keyboard as much as possible. This also means that I use a lot of Mac shortcut keys to get my work done.

Using shortcuts is fast. A lot faster than moving your right hand (or left of you are left-handed) back and forth from mouse to keyboard to mouse to keyboard. But, shortcuts usage has limitations: there are too many of them that memorizing every command available is next to impossible and not every command has its own respective shortcuts.

Shortcut Cheat Sheet: Don’t Forget To Remember

There are a lot of places where you can get the list of shortcuts available for Mac OS X, such as: Apple Support, Help Menu, Menu bar, and of course your beloved MakeUseOf. Grab the Mac cheat sheet here. (We got plenty of other cheat sheets 10 Essential Cheat Sheets To Download 10 Essential Cheat Sheets To Download Read More but for them you need subscribe to the site via RSS or email). Each and every application also lists the shortcuts with their menu.

In the terms of memorizing shortcuts, I have one tip to follow: Don’t bother! You will eventually remember the shortcuts that you use most while you can ignore the ones that you almost never use and grab the mouse instead.

Navigating without mouse is not as difficult as it seems. You can find your keyboard way to the menus to access the command by using this trick:


1. Go to the System Preferences and choose “Keyboard and Mouse”.

2. This step is optional, but will ease up your keyboarding life a little bit: Choose “Keyboard” tab and give checkmark to the “Use F keys as standard function keys” box.

3. Choose “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab, go to the middle of the window, find “Keyboard Navigation” options and give checkmark to “Move focus to the menu bar” box (Control + F2 or change it into something else that you can remember better – more on this later).

This way, you can navigate the menu bar – and thus executing the command – just by pressing Control + F2 followed by arrow keys and Enter. As an added bonus, you could find list of available shortcuts here.

There’s also a US$ 29.95 shareware called KeyCue, which can help you remember the shortcut keys for the open application, by showing you every available combination every time you press and hold command key. I haven’t found the free alternative yet.

Change The Key Combinations

Let’s explore the power of Mac shortcuts even further. Mac users could add their own customized shortcut combinations and also change the ones that already existed.

To edit:

From the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab that we’ve opened just now, double click on the shortcut key combination, and you will be able to edit it.

To add your own:

1. Click the plus (+) sign under the shortcuts window, and a small window will pop up.
2. Choose the application from the drop down menu.
3. Write down the menu title EXACTLY as it is written on the menu.
4. Key in the preferable shortcut key combination.
5. Click the “Add” button.

Now you have a new customized shortcut. Repeat the process to add more for other applications. And to avoid conflict with the already existed shortcuts, just make sure to invent NEW combination. Compare the two menus below from Finder, before and after I add a new shortcut.

To delete a shortcut (the one that you don’t use but want to assign to another command), simply select it and click the minus (-) button.

For users who don’t want to dig deep into the System Preferences and wanted to add more power, there’s an alternative way to add your own shortcuts. Use Spark instead. But that’s another story for another day.

Are you a keyboard guy? Do you have more tips to share? Use the comment below.

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  1. Freddie
    June 7, 2009 at 12:33 am

    how do you use shortcut keys to launch an app of your choice? e.g. launch safari by pressing option-S?

    is this possible?

  2. Miguel Wickert
    April 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Sweet, hey thanks for sharing. I enjoy my share of shortcuts like the rest. useful indeed. :)