Mac Tips: Keyboard Shortcut Basics

Using the keyboard in a few simple ways saves hours of time.

Keyboard shortcuts are a great place to start becoming more efficient when using your Mac. They may be the single best productivity improvement you can try; using the keyboard is faster than the mouse, particularly when using it for common tasks because:

  1. Every time your hands leave the keyboard, especially during a typing intensive activity, you lose time. The half second gained using a keyboard shortcut compared to a mouse click quickly adds up to hours.
  2. It can break concentration. The more smooth and efficient you become, the less small tasks like opening a new tab or switching between apps gets in the way of focusing on the main reason you’re at the computer.

Start using these immediately - don’t worry about other Mac tips/tricks, until these are part of your daily routine.

The following keyboard shortcuts will give you the most mileage for your minute. The + sign indicates the keys should be pressed together to activate the shortcut.

Keyboard shortcut Task
Cmd + C Copy the selected text, document, or other item.
Cmd + V Paste the previously-selected text, document, or other item, making a copy.
Cmd + shift + V Paste the previously-selected document or other item, moving the item to the new location, turning the copy command into a cut command.
Cmd + tab Activate the app switcher. Hold Cmd and continue tapping tab to cycle apps. Release all keys to switch to the selected app.
Cmd + space Launch spotlight. Type the name of an app to open. Hit enter to select/open the app.
Cmd + W Close the current window or tab.
Cmd + Q Completely quit the current app.
Cmd + T Open a new tab.

Another mechanical keyboard

See the Mac Tips post for links to other tips in the series.