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The 5 OSX keyboard shortcuts you should be using to streamline your time

Updated on August 10, 2014

Simply put, a keyboard shortcut is just that - a shortcut that allows you to press a few key combinations to perform an action quicker. It's like cutting through the woods instead of sitting in traffic (not recommended, but you get where we're going with this).

If you're a Mac user, you have tons of easy options in the form of keyboard shortcuts that will do things that you had NO IDEA your computer could do. If you practice them enough times, you'll be blown away at how mush faster you can accomplish tasks and save enough time to catch that power nap that you've needed since Monday.

There are dozens of Mac OSX keyboard shortcuts, but here are a few of our favorites. Again, practice them and you'll love this new addiction.

The first one (or set) is a no brainer and we use religiously (almost every hour, if not more):

1. Cut, Copy and Paste

If you're not using these, you're missing out. Don't spend another day clicking EDIT at the top of your screen and then CUT, COPY or PASTE.

  • To cut text, etc. and save to your clipboard click: CMD + X
  • To copy text, etc and save to your clipboard click: CMD + C
  • To paste what is on your clipboard, click: CMD + V

2. Screen Grabs

These are our favorite. If you ever want to save an image of the screen (either full, a window or just a little section), use the screen grab keyboard shortcuts. You'll love these.

  • To take a full screenshot and save to a file click: CMD + SHIFT + 3
  • To take a section of screen by dragging a box around the content and save to a file click: CMD + SHIFT + 4
  • Here's a bonus, if you want to take a clean shot of a full window, use the 2nd one but then click the spacebar. It'll ask you to select a window and voila!

This is an image of how you can use the CMD + SHIFT + 4 to draw a box around what you want to save and it'll create the image.

This keyboard shortcut allows you to draw a box around a section of the screen you want to save and create an image.
This keyboard shortcut allows you to draw a box around a section of the screen you want to save and create an image.

3. Show Desktop

This one is great if you're working with a bunch of windows open and you need to get back to your desktop to find something you saved or are working on.

To scatter all the open windows from your desktop, just click: CMD + F3

Note: The 'F' keys are generally the top row of keys depending on your keyboard layout. Just look for F1, F2, F3, etc. and you're good go.

4. Toggle Through Active Programs

This one is a great time-saver. If you are working with several open windows and you need to toggle through them quickly without minimizing and maximizing windows, use this quick trick:

Toggle through open programs (forward): CMD + TAB

Note: If you want to go the other direction (backwards), just click CMD + SHIFT + TAB

Use this keyboard shortcut to quickly switch between open programs.
Use this keyboard shortcut to quickly switch between open programs.

5. Undo An Action

We all make mistakes. But don't let a mistake screw up something you've been working hard on. If you need to 'undo' something you just typed (or deleted by accident), there is a shortcut that will save your butt.

To undo an action, click: CMD + Z

And there you have it! A quick list of some of the most-used (and our favorite) Mac OSX keyboard shortcuts.

Again, we're just skimming a few of the dozens that are available. For a full list of these keyboard shortcuts, you can check out the official breakdown of OSX keyboard shortcuts from the Apple website.

We'd love to hear which shortcuts are your favorite that we didn't mention. Let us know in the comments below, and stop by and say hi on our website at

Do you use keyboard shortcuts on your Mac?

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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 3 years ago

      Because copy and paste are used so often, I wish there is a single key shortcut for copy and paste instead of the two-key shortcut. Too much copy and paste hurts my fingers.