Keyboard shortcuts can have a huge impact on your Mac’s workflow. They allow you to accomplish simple tasks, like selecting, copying, or formatting text, without ever taking your hands off the keyboard.
Better yet, if there isn’t a shortcut for a certain task, you can create a custom one on macOS.
You can use the arrow keys to move the cursor and press Enter to start a new paragraph. Using the Option and Command keys as modifiers, you can move the cursor in the following ways:
Option + Left arrow: At the start of the previous word.
Option + Right arrow: At the start of the next word.
Command + Left Arrow: At the start of the current line.
Command + Right Arrow: Until the end of the current line.
Option + Up arrow: At the beginning of the current paragraph.
Option + Down Arrow: At the end of the current paragraph.
Shift + Enter: Starts a new row in apps like Messages, Slack, or WYSIWYG editors.
You can click and drag to highlight text, but it’s much faster to do so with the following keyboard shortcuts:
Shift + Left or Right Arrow: Highlights the previous or next character.
Shift + Up or Down Arrow: Highlights the previous or next line of text.
Shift + Command + Up or Down Arrow: Highlights all text above or below the cursor.
Shift + Command + Left or Right Arrow: Highlights all text to the left or right of the cursor.
Command + A: Selects all text.
Copy and paste text
You might know how to copy and paste, but do you know how to paste and match style? This automatically formats pasted text to match the rest of the document. For example, if you are copying text from a web page into a Word document, pasting and matching the style will ignore web formatting and change the text to font and size in the text document.
Here’s how to do all of this using shortcuts:
Command + C: Copy to clipboard.
Command + X: Cut to the clipboard.
Command + V: Paste from the clipboard.
Option + Command + Shift + V: Paste from clipboard and match style.
There are several ways to delete text on macOS. You can even reproduce the behavior of the Delete key in Windows.
Use one of the following shortcuts:
Remove: Delete the previous character.
Option + Delete: Delete the previous word.
Function + Delete: Delete the following character (like the Delete key in Windows.)
Function + Option + Delete: Delete the next word.
Command + Delete: Delete the line to the left of the cursor.
Shift + Command + Delete: Delete the line to the right of the cursor.
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You can also combine formatting shortcuts with those for cursor movement and text selection. This means that you won’t have to take your hands off the keyboard to do any of the following:
Command + B: Selected text in bold
Command + I: Italicize the selected text
Command + U: Underline selected text
Command + K: Create a hyperlink from the selected text (certain apps only).
Option + Command + C: Copy style, such as text formatting (certain applications only).
Option + Command + V: Paste style, such as text formatting (certain applications only).
Other common functions
The applications in which you use these shortcuts, such as word processors and rate applications, also tend to share the following common shortcuts:
Function + up or down arrow: Previous or next page of a complete “page or” screen.
Command + Z: Undo the last action.
Command + Shift + Z: Redo an action.
Command + F: Open Finder to search for the document.
Command + G: Find the next instance of something.
Option + Command + G: Find the previous instance of something.
Command + S: Save the current file.
Command + O: Open a file.
Command + P: Print the current document.
Command + N: Open a new document.
Command + T: Open a new tab (works in browsers, Apple Notes, Pages, etc.).
How to create your own keyboard shortcuts
In addition to this extensive list of useful text editing shortcuts, you can also create your own. You can specify them to work system-wide or restrict them to specific applications.
It works using the labels listed in the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will need to find the exact name of the function that appears in the application menu bar, whether it is under File, Edit, View, or some other section.
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To demonstrate, we’ll use Pages. Apple’s word processor doesn’t offer a keyboard shortcut for formatting text with the Strikethrough style, so we’ll create one. To get started, go to System Preferences> Keyboard, then click on the “Shortcuts” tab.
Next, click on “Application shortcuts” and then on the plus sign (+) to add a new rule. Here we can click the drop down arrow in the “Application” field and select the application we want (Pages). This will limit the shortcut to that application.
If you want to create a universal shortcut, select “All apps” instead.
In the “Menu title” field, you must enter the exact name of the function. For our example, we type “Strikethrough” as it appears under Format> Font on the Pages menu bar.
Select the “Keyboard shortcut” field, and then hold down the key combination you want to use for this task. For our example, we chose Command + Shift + K, but you can use any combination that doesn’t already exist.
Now is the time to test your shortcut. If that doesn’t work or performs the wrong action, you may have triggered an existing shortcut. Remember that you can use the Function (Fn), Control, Command, Option and Shift keys as modifiers, so you should never run out of possibilities.
Don’t forget to use them
If you put an effort into using keyboard shortcuts, they will soon become second nature. You’ll edit text faster than ever, without even knowing which keys you’re pressing. Muscle memory is a hell of a handy thing!
If you are looking for efficiency, creating shortcuts to fill in the gaps in the apps you regularly use is a must. Make sure to bookmark this article (it’s Command + D in most browsers) so you can use it as a reference. You can also go to System Preferences> Keyboard> Shortcuts to view a list of all of the custom shortcuts you have created.
Keyboard shortcuts let you be more productive by keeping your fingers on the keyboard. Make sure to check the other ways you can make the time you spend on your Mac more productive.