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Wilson Mar

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Shortcuts and utilities


Many reference keys using symbols, so memorize this:

Apple components from any active app

Purpose Name Mouse Hot corner Key Hide
Active apps thumbnails Mission Control
(formerly Expose)
3 finger swipe up - fn + F3 Esc
Active apps dashboard Application Windows - Upper left control + F3 Esc
- Desktop Thumb and 3 finger spread [1] - F11 toggle
Calculator, other Accessories Dashboard 3 finger swipe right Lower left ?
Apps icons customized Dock bar (bottom of screen) Mouse beyond bottom of screen - - Esc
Active app selection Active apps - - ⌘ + Tab
Installed apps Launchpad Thumb and 3 finger pinch Upper right fn + F4
Files and folders Finder - - ⌘ + option + T
Put display to sleep Start screen saver - Lower right control + Shift + Power button
omni-search Spotlight - - command + spacebar Esc
mute Speaker volume - - fn + F11 -
Softer - - fn + F12 -
Louder - - fn + F12 -
Alerts Notification Center - - -

[1] = This does not work when the active program is on an extended screen.

Process Navigation

  • Press command + Tab to cycle through programs running.

  • Press control + F4 to cycle through processes running.

  • Press shift plus the above reverses the cycling direction.

Window navigation

Purpose Menu Mouse Key
New window File | New Window - ⌘ + N
New window Incongnito - ⌘ + shift + N
Cycle through windows in app Window - ⌘ + ` (at upper left corner of keyboard)
Maximize window (no menu bar) - Click green icon at the top left corner of window ⌘ + shift + F
Un-Maximize window - Cursor to top left corner. Click on green icon.
Minimize window - Click yellow ball. ⌘ + M
Close current window - Click red ball. ⌘ + shift + W
Close all windows - - ⌘ + option + W
Preferencesapp name | Preferences - ⌘ + ,
Quit app completelyapp name | Quit - ⌘ + Q

Microsoft vs. Mac Keyboards

Needing to change habits learned typing is difficult and takes time. It’s literally taking physical therapy. This is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of changing from Windows to a Mac.

Key ideas:

  • Holding down the control key during mouse clicks is the Mac’s right-click.

Here are the most problematic among Keyboard mappings using a PC keyboard on a Macintosh on Microsoft’s website:

Microsoft Windows Apple Macintosh issue
Ctrl + mouse click multiple items control + option + mouse click Two keys on Mac
Delete (right of cursor) fn + delete
control + D
Backspace (left of cursor) delete
control + H
Function key fn + F1 ... F12  
Windows Start orb control+F2, then enter/returnawkard
Num lock Virtual Machine > Send Key  
Insert toggle Requires mapping

Insert key requires mapping

Sending the equivalent of Windows keyboard Insert on a Mac is problematic, especially within a virtual Windows machine.

  • On older Macintosh keyboards, press the Help key.
  • On older Macintosh notebook keyboards, press fn+M.
  • Newer Macintosh notebooks do not support fn+M. So I suggest mapping Alt+F1 within VMware Fusion > Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Key Mappings.

Delete and Backspace keys swapped

The Delete key on an Apple keyboard (⌫ on older keyboards) is actually the backspace key to all other operating systems. To press the equivalent of the Windows backspace that removes to the left of the cursor:

  • On a Macintosh notebook keyboard, press fn + Delete.
  • On older full-sized Macintosh keyboards, press ⌦ (called "Forward Delete") below the Help key.

The ALT key on Windows is OPTION on Mac keyboards.

To send key commands from a Mac into a Windows instance inside VMWare Fusion.

Modifier caps lock

It’s annoying when all of a sudden everything I type is in caps. That happens because I accidentally had my hand too far to the left when I intended to press the A key.

I can type all caps by holding down the shift key with my right hand.

So In OS X Lion onward, change the caps lock key in:

System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys


Wish I could change it to Esc.

Awkward Keys

There are some key combinations that are so awkard to use that it’s better to use a mouse or another approach.

Since the fn and control keys are only on the left side of a MacBook keyboard, using them requires a Carpel-tunnel Syndrome-inducing move of the left hand:

  • control+F2 to highlight the Apple menu.
  • control+F3 to highlight the Dock at the bottom of the screen.

On a Mac without a visible Function keys, press fn to reveal them, thus:

  • fn + control + F2 to highlight the Apple menu.
  • fn + control + F3 to highlight the Dock at the bottom of the screen.

PROTIP: The fn key is easy to find without looking because it’s at a corner. But use a companion key on the right side of the keyboard.

Trackpad Remapping Tool

The trackpad on OSX recognizes multiple touch points (fingers) at once.

  • One finger to move the mouse cursor.
  • Two fingers to scroll up or down.
  • Three fingers to move among applications active.

BetterTouchTool (BTT) $6.50 app remaps what Apple input devices (keyboard, Magic Mouse, Touchpad, Trackpad) recognize, and also adds more gestures.

Use my installer for Mac to setup this program along with all others by running repeatable Ansible declarations.

There are several dimensions:

Fingers Motion Direction Repeats Pressure
pinch in/out (zoom)

Combos: single finger tap left, single finger tap right, single finger tap, two finger tap, two finger click, two finger swipe (up/down/left/right), three finger tap, three finger click, three finger swipe (up/down/left/right) and ‘TipTap’ left/right.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1xFhreDR_k
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mr2IiJ0Y0E
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeocxFO5yWA
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFmB3XCva_Y

Programs can be invoked several different ways:

  • Click the magnifying glass and type the program name
  • Click on the apple menu
  • the Dock
  • or from the Applications folder on your hard drive.

To reset during open, in the Application folder, hold down all keys SHIFT OPTION COMMAND then click the app’s icon.


App-specific keys


Mac 10.10 Finder keys

I probably click the Finder Favorites more than anything else. So I’ve memorized the keyboard keys.

  • Option + ⌘ + L for the Downloads folder

  • Shift + ⌘ + D for the Desktop folder where screen captures are stored (by default).
  • Shift + ⌘ + A for the Applications folder where apps are stored.

This enables me to remove default items in the Favorites list (by right-clicking on it) so I can instead list my own folders I use most often.

  • To go a level up or down in the Finder, press ⌘ + up arrow or down arrow.

  • Open parent folder and close current window: Option-Command-Up Arrow

  • To open folders and files by clicking on it and pressing ⌘ + O (instead of Enter as you would on Windows).


  • ⌘ + 1 = Icon view
  • ⌘ + 2 = List view
  • ⌘ + 3 = Column view
  • ⌘ + 4 = Cover flow view

    QUESTION: Is there a key to expand width of columns?

  • control + ⌘ + number to control Arrange sorting.

  • ⌘ + F to Search text.

Hide and Unhide Folders

Under Favorites, click on your user name (next to the house icon). If the Library folder does not appear:

sudo chflags nohidden /Library/ ~/Library/

To hide Library again:

sudo chflags hidden /Library/ ~/Library/

Chrome Browser Tabs

Purpose Firefox Chrome
New blank tab ⌘ + shift + H
Home tab ⌘ + T
Open Settings / Preferences tab ⌘ + , (comma)
Close current tab ⌘ + W
Re-open tab ⌘ + shift + T
Cycle through tabs control + Tab
Bookmarks manager tab - option + ⌘ + B
History tab - option + ⌘ + H
Downloads tab - shift + ⌘ + J
Browser Console shift + ⌘ + B

See https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165450?hl=en

Page operations within Chrome Tab

Purpose Mouse Key
History - shift + ⌘ + H
Search web - option + ⌘ + F
Find bar (to text on page) - ⌘ + F
Find next match - ⌘ + G
Find previous match - shift + ⌘ + G or
shift + Enter
Enter highlighted text to Find - ⌘ + E
Page Down - fn + down arrow
Page Up - fn + up arrow
Page top (home) - fn + left arrow
End of page - fn + right arrow
Previous page - ⌘ + [
Next page - ⌘ + ]
Refresh - ⌘ + R
Bookmark current page - ⌘ + D
JavaScript Console - option + ⌘ + J
Source HTML - option + ⌘ + U

Text string operations

Purpose Mouse Key
Cut highlighted text - ⌘ + X
Copy highlighted text to clipboard - ⌘ + C
Paste highlighted text from clipboard - ⌘ + V
Copy URL of current page to the clipboard. - option + ⌘ + C
Paste content without formatting - shift + option + ⌘ + V

Chrome iMacros

To use macros, add to Chrome browser the iMacros for Chrome.

This auto-opens http://imacros.net/browser/cr/welcome.

To use macros on Firefox, open in Firefox iMacros for Firefox. Click Add to Firefox. Click Install. Click Restart Now.

Text Line Bash Shortcuts

These come from the bash terminal on Linux machines:

  • control + H = Backspace left of cursor
  • control + D = Delete right of cursor
  • control + F = Forward cursor
  • control + B = Backward
  • control + N = Next line
  • control + P = Previous line
  • control + A = Beginning of the line (as in A to Z)
  • control + K = Kill line

Microsoft Word for Mac 2011

Text Editor Special Characters

In a text editor, press either Shift + Option + 8 or Option + 0.

For autocomplete in TextEdit, press Tab + Esc. Unfortunately, this is the same key to toggle the Mac’s text-to-speech.

For the ©Copyright symbol, press the “alt” key (or “option”) and hold it down while typing “g” on the keyboard.

Keyboard Symbols

This website and others make use of special coding to represent Apple icons and keyboard icons.

Below is modified from Joe Weaks

Icon Name Unicode Font
Power 3U+233D
Apple symbol 1 U+F8FFLucida Grande
Command (Open Apple) 2 U+2318
Control U+2303
Option (Alt, Alternative) U+2325
Shift U+21E7 Apple Symbols
Capslock U+21EA
Escape U+238B
Tab forwardU+21E5
Tab backU+21E4
Space U+2423

Return U+23CE
Delete back U+232B
Delete forward U+2326
Help U+003F &

Home U+21F1

End U+21F2
Pageup U+21DE
Pagedown U+21DF

Up arrow U+2191

Down arrow U+2193

Left arrow U+2190

Right arrow U+2192
Clear U+2327
Numberlock U+21ED Apple Symbols
Enter U+2324

Robot typists

For making videos:

Slowly output the contents of the clipboard into the currently active tab, one character at a time. Map to CTRL-SHIFT-V for a slow paste command.

Applescript “robot” typist inserts characters into XCode or other application

Creates a mapping that will type out the given text into vim.

Cross machine

For a $19 one-time purchase,
enables you to use a single keyboard and mouse on Mac, Windows, and Linux.


More on OSX

This is one of a series on Mac OSX: