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Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

The complete list is available at the Apple website at: Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts.

A friend sent me a link to David Pogue's Oct 2, 2008 blog post on Pogue'sPosts, at the New York Times website. Reading that post and the comments it generated got me thinking I might glean some keyboard shortcuts from it and do a page here directed at the Mac user.

I've been messing with these darned personal computers for a long time now (my first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 - remember those? and later the VisiCalc spreadsheet application? Ah those were heady days). After all these many years using PCs and then switching to a Mac when the Blue & White G3 came out I find I still don't know all the shortcuts. I think of myself as fairly computer literate but now I wonder - in putting this list together I found I didn't even know many of these basic tricks (sheesh I can't even keep the modifier key symbols straight in my head - see below). I guess one tends to muddle along with the simplest stuff learned in those early days of trying to make this darned machine do the simplest things and doesn't keep exploring. Ah well, let's see if you too find new anything here.

Modifier key symbols

Here's probably the easiest way to learn the common Mac keyboard shortcuts. In the menu bar of the program at hand, next time you click on one of the drop down menus pause a second and take a look at the menu. To the right of the menu selections there is often a collection of symbols - that's the keyboard shortcut for that menu selection.

But what if you are like me and you never made the effort to learn what key those little modifier key symbols refer to.

⌘ - command (also the Apple key)

⇧ - shift

⌃ - control

⌥ - option

⌫ - delete left (backspace on a PC)

⎋ - escape

Some early keyboard shortcuts

Many of the standard keyboard shortcuts newcomers find so magical go way back to the early days of computing and are pretty universally used and are not Mac specific.

Still dragging the cursor across a word to highlight it?

You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page. Triple click to highlight the whole paragraph. And if that's not enough for you highlight the whole thing at once with:

Got your text highlighted? Now try one of these old timers to actually do something with that highlighted text:

Now here's one I'd forgotten about:

So that's Command -Z -X -C -V all in a row across the bottom row of the keyboard. How clever.

Let's get really really basic here for a second (you don't have to admit this is new to you ;-) Command-Z for example means push an hold the command key while you then push the Z key. Pushing and releasing the command key and then pushing the Z key won't do it.

Undo, cut, copy and paste often work, even when you think they might not. You can often recover files, deleted text, closed tabs, whatever. It depends on who wrote the software.

Save it or lose it

This is one I tend to get lax about these days. Now that I'm using a MacBook laptop with a battery between my work and power failure I don't think so obsessively about saving constantly in dread of those all-to-frequent power blips I used to suffer. Especially years ago I just never knew when the power line was going to hiccup and take the computer down with all my unsaved typos. As a two finger typist (yeah, I know) that could be a major loss. You folks with a desktop computer plugged in the wall need this one.

Works in gmail as well for drafts I understand.

Hide it

Got too many widows open and cluttering up your screen? Don't close them, hide them.

Command-F3 is handy when you want to see the desktop under all the clutter. Or just hide the screen when somebody walks up - can't imagine why but...

Mac 101

When I went to the Apple website looking for a list of all these neat shortcuts I didn't find one but I did find a series of tutorials at Apple - Support - Mac 101 you might find useful.

Tags: Macintosh