Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts Using CheatSheet [Mac]

Bakari Chavanu 18-06-2012

mac keyboard shortcutsIf you’re growing tired of constantly moving your hand back and forth from your mouse or trackpad to the keyboard in order to launch or quit an application, pause iTunes playing, or copy or paste text, it’s probably time you start learning how to use keyboard shortcuts.


For the Mac, there’s a new free application in the App Store called CheatSheet that provides you with a simple, single-click action to view a list of keyboard shortcuts for the current application you’re working in, including the Finder.

How It Works

CheatSheet works pretty simply. When you’re in an application, you hold down the ?-Key (Command key) for a couple of seconds, and then a list of all the keyboard shortcuts for that application will appear.

mac keyboard shortcuts

The screenshot above is a full screen view of over 50 keyboard shortcuts available in the Finder. The shot below is a zoomed-in view of the list. Keyboard shortcuts are categorized by the same menu items you would find when you click on the menu bar of a current application.

keyboard shortcuts


Of course you probably won’t be able to memorize every keyboard shortcut, but each time you commit yourself to using a keyboard shortcut rather than heading for the same item in the menu bar, you will begin to commit that keyboard shortcut to memory. And that’s where CheatSheet comes in. Yes, it’s somewhat of a hassle to bring up CheatSheet, but the more you use it, the less you will use it over time.

Desktop Wallpaper

If you to want master the keyboard shortcuts for a particular application you use often, you might consider making the CheatSheet list for that application a temporary part of your desktop wallpaper. To do this, you will need a screenshot application like LittleSnapper that can take a timed screenshot while you hold down the ? key for your selected application.

keyboard shortcuts

After you make the screenshot, you can open it in OS X’s Preview application and use the annotation tool to highlight several of the keyboard shortcuts you want to learn. Save the annotated screenshot and use it for your desktop background, where you can quickly glance at the keyboard shortcuts you want to master.


Create Keyboard Shortcuts

Some applications don’t have keyboard shortcuts for particular menu bar items. For example, in Safari, “Reopen All Windows from Last Session” under the History menu doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut; but creating one is relatively easy.

keyboard shortcuts

Launch System Preferences and click on Keyboard. Select Application Shortcuts > Safari. Click the + button and type “Reopen All Windows from Last Session” (without the quotes), and add a unique keyboard shortcut. I chose ??O (Shift+Command+O). Click the Add button to save it. When you navigate back to your Safari, the keyboard shortcut should be added. This process can be done for other menu bar items in any application.

mac keyboard shortcuts


After you add a custom keyboard shortcut, it will show up in CheatSheet as well.

There’s no other features for CheatSheet. Its only Preferences option is setting the delay time (shorter or longer) for launching the sheet after pressing the ? key.

If you find using keyboard shortcuts is a quicker way to navigate your Mac, you might want to try other keyboard shortcut-related applications like Keyboard Maestro and Shortcuts for creating keyboard shortcuts for launching applications, folders and files, AppleScripts, and other system-wide actions.

For other ideas on this subject, check out these articles:


Let us know what you think of CheatSheet and how much you use keyboard shortcuts on your Mac.  What is your favourite shortcut and why?

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kavita
    October 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    awesome piece of info...started using some right away...

  2. Victor Cesto
    August 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Nice post, I already printed a copy for me.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Cool, Victor, glad you find it useful.

  3. jamesbirtwistle
    July 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I like it but I use Command-Tab (App Switcher) pretty often and CheatSheet annoyingly pops up when I don't want it to.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Hmm, okay, James, thanks for letting us know that. Maybe the developer will read your comment and look into this issue.

  4. Jimmy Arcade
    July 17, 2012 at 4:36 am

    I've been looking for something like this, as I'm still a novice when it comes to Mac OS. Thank you!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Jimmy.

  5. Lauren Ledbetter
    July 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    This is very helpful. I am a designer and have to know all of the shortcuts in the Adobe Suite. I actually was tested on how many I knew one time while a potential employer watched over my shoulder and counted!! I love having a cheat sheet!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Cool, Lauren, glad this will be of help.

  6. This Busy Life
    July 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for the cool tip!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      You're welcome.

      • Belle
        September 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm

        Hi i was looking on this website to do my homework about keyboard shortcuts and it helped me loads. thx

  7. liammjwise
    July 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    This is really helpful!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 2, 2012 at 5:02 am

      Liammjwise, thanks for letting us know that.

  8. Vincent DeVeau
    June 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Haven't understood the point of keyboard shortcuts since I left the C> command line prompt behind many years ago. Isn't that why God created mice?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Vincent, I hear you. I'm a trackpad user myself, but I do grow tired of moving my right hand back and forth from the keyboard to the trackpad. Keyboard Maestro and BetterTouchTool actually help me more than keyboard shortcuts, so the only time I'm really using the trackpad is when I have to edit my writing. A good solution would be for Apple to make a desktop keyboard with the trackpad behind the keys, just like how they're designed on MacBook laptops.

  9. Jeremy Edgell
    June 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    LOVE IT!! Just made my Mac life that much easier! I really LOVE the application-aware hints!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Jeremy, thanks for your feedback. It always good to know when readers find something we review useful.

  10. Jay Maniyar
    June 19, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Tried it. Great.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Jay, thanks for your feedback.

  11. Neha
    June 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Just Downloaded it. Thanks!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      You're welcome, Neha.

  12. rodney
    June 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    this is cool

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Rodney, thanks for the feedback.

  13. infmom
    June 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Hmm... I use a PC keyboard (MS Natural) on my Mac Mini and I haven't yet gotten this to work.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Have you tried writing directly to the developer and see what he says?