Guide to Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

Written by Lauren Morley

Lauren is the Chief Marketing Officer at Techvera. She travels the country full-time with her husband and dog. When she isn't coming up with marketing strategies for Techvera, you can find her playing games, exploring nature, or planning her next adventure!

May 11, 2014

Keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity, and they aren’t just specific to Windows users. Here we present some Mac keyboard shortcuts that can help you navigate your Mac more efficiently.

Before we start, you should be aware of the main shortcut keys on your Mac: control (abbr. ctrl), option (or alt), and command. You will hold down one of these keys in combination with the other shortcut key(s). They look like this:

Mac OS control option command keys



Spotlight search: Press Command + Space to open the Spotlight search field. This is similar to the Windows start menu search function. You can quickly start typing to search and press Enter to launch an application or open a file.

Force quit applications: Press Command + Option + Escape to open the Force Quit Applications dialog, where you can forcibly close applications if they’re frozen.

Force quit the current application: Press Command + Shift + Option + Escape and hold down the keys for three seconds. Your Mac will force-close the front-most application, which is useful if it isn’t responding and you can’t even open the Force Quit Applications window. Note that this can cause applications to lose your work, so you should only use this feature when necessary.



  • Command + F – Start searching the current page. This also works in other applications.
  • Command + Left Arrow – Go back a page.
  • Command + Right Arrow – Go forward a page.
  • Command + T – Open a new tab.
  • Command + W – Close the current tab.
  • Command + L – Focus the browser’s location bar so you can start typing a search or web address immediately.
  • Ctrl + Tab – Switch between open tabs.
  • Ctrl + Shift + Tab – Switch between open tabs in reverse.



  • Command + A – Select All
  • Command + X – Cut
  • Command + C – Copy
  • Command + V – Paste
  • Command + Z – Undo
  • Command + Shift + Z – Redo
  • Command + Left Arrow –  Go to the beginning of the current line.
  • Command + Right Arrow – Go to the end of the current line.
  • Option + Left Arrow – Move the cursor left one word.
  • Option + Right Arrow – Move the cursor right one word.
  • Option + Delete – Delete the word to the left of the cursor. Bear in mind that the Delete button on a Mac functions like Backspace on Windows.

As on Windows, you can press Shift to select text while using these shortcuts. For example, hold down Shift and Option and tap the left arrow repeatedly to select entire previous words.



  • Command + Tab – Move through a list of open applications. This is like Alt + Tab on Windows.
  • Command + Shift + Tab – Move through the list in reverse.
  • Command + Q – Quit the current application. This is like Alt + F4 on Windows.
  • F3 – Open Mission Control to view all open application windows and desktops.
  • Ctrl + Left Arrow – Move one desktop to the left.
  • Ctrl + Right Arrow – Move one desktop to the right.

If you’d like to take a screenshot of your Mac’s entire screen, just press Command + Shift + 3. You can also press Command + Shift + 4 to take a picture of part of the screen. The screenshot will be saved to your Mac’s desktop.

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