Keyboard shortcuts can have a huge impact on your Mac workflow. They allow you to perform simple tasks, such as selecting, copying or formatting text, without lifting your hands from the keyboard.
Even better, if there is no shortcut for a particular task, you can create a custom one on macOS.
Move the cursor
You can use the arrow keys to move the cursor around and press Enter to start a new paragraph. Using the Option and Command keys as modifiers, you can move the cursor as follows:
- Options + left arrow: To the beginning of the previous word.
- Options + right arrow: To the beginning of the next word.
- Command + left arrow: To the beginning of the current line.
- Command + right arrow: To the end of the current line.
- Options + up arrow: To the beginning of the current paragraph.
- Option + down arrow: To the end of the current paragraph.
- Shift + Enter: Launches a new line in apps like Messaging, Slack or WYSIWYG Editor.
Similar shortcuts are also available on Windows.
RELATED: 42+ Text-editing keyboard shortcuts that work almost anywhere
To select text
You can click and drag to select text, but it’s much faster to do with the following keyboard shortcuts:
- Shift + left or right arrow: Selects the previous or next character.
- Shift + up or down arrow: Selects the previous or next line of text.
- Shift + command + up or down arrow: Selects all text above or below the cursor.
- Shift + command + left or right arrow: Selects all text to the left or right of the cursor.
- Command + A: Selects all text.
Copy and paste text
You may know how to copy and paste, but do you know how to paste and match style? This automatically formats the pasted text to match the rest of the document. For example, if you copy text from a web page to a Word document, the web formatting ignores the paste and matches the style and changes the text to the font and size of the text document.
Here’s how to do it all using shortcuts:
- Command + C: Copy to clipboard.
- Command + X: Cut to clipboard.
- Command + V: Paste from clipboard.
- Alt + Command + Shift + V: Paste from clipboard and matching style.
There is more than one way to delete text on macOS. You can even copy the behavior with the Delete key in Windows.
Use one of the following shortcuts:
- Delete: Delete the previous character.
- Option + Delete: Delete previous word.
- Function + Delete: Delete the next character (like the Delete key in Windows.)
- Function + Alt + 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.
You can also combine formatting shortcuts with them for cursor movement and text selection. This means you do not have to remove your hands from the keyboard to do any of the following:
- Command + B: Bold text
- Command + I: Italicize selected text
- Command + U: Underline selected text
- Command + K: Create a hyperlink from the selected text (select apps only).
- Option + Command + C: Copy style, such as text formatting (select apps only).
- Alt + Command + V: Paste style, such as text formatting (select apps only).
Other common features
The apps where you use these shortcuts, such as word processors and note-taking apps, also tend to share the following common shortcuts:
- Function + Up or down arrow: Page up or down an entire “page or” screen. “
- Command + Z: Undo the last action.
- Command + Shift + Z: Redo an action.
- Command + F: Open the viewfinder to search the document.
- Command + G: Find the next example of something.
- Alt + Command + G: Find the previous example 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 and more).
How to create your own keyboard shortcuts
In addition to this exhaustive list of useful shortcuts for text editing, you can also create your own. You can set them to work the whole system or limit them to specific apps.
This works using the labels in the menu bar at the top of the screen. You must find the exact name of the function that appears in the program’s menu bar, whether it falls under File, Edit, View, or another section.
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To demonstrate, we use Pages. Apple’s word processor does not have a keyboard shortcut to format text with the Strike Through style, so we’ll create one. To get started, go to System Preferences> Keyboard and then click the Shortcuts tab.
Then click on “App shortcuts” and then click on the plus sign (+) to add a new rule. Here we can click on the drop-down arrow in the field “Application” and select the app we want (Pages). This will limit the shortcut to just this app.
To create a universal shortcut, select “All applications” instead.
In the “Menu title” field, you must enter the exact name of the function. For our example, we type “Strike through” exactly as it appears under Format> Font in the Pages menu bar.
Select the “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 does not already exist.
Now is the time to test your shortcut. If it does not work or performs the wrong operation, you may have triggered an existing shortcut. Remember that you can use the Function (Fn), Control, Command, Options, and Shift buttons as modifiers, so you should never run out of options.
Remember to use them
If you try to use keyboard shortcuts, they will soon be different. You edit text faster than ever, without even realizing which buttons you press. Muscle memory is a lot of practicality!
If you are a sucker for efficiency, it is a must to create shortcuts to fill the gaps in apps that you use regularly. Be sure to bookmark this article (it’s Command + D in most browsers) so you can use it as a reference. You can also always go to System Preferences> Keyboard> Shortcuts to see a list of all the custom shortcuts you have created.
Keyboard shortcuts allow you to be more productive by keeping your fingers on the keyboard. Be sure to check out the other ways you can make your time on your Mac more productive.
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