15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

That MacBook on your desk might be even more powerful than you think.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

If you’re not using keyboard shortcuts on your Mac, you’re missing out on a big part of the reason why so many people love Apple’s desktop operating system. Thanks to Apple’s integration of hardware and software, you’ll rarely have to reach for your mouse or trackpad once you learn to speak the language of the keys.

You probably already know Command + C means copy and Command + V means paste, but there’s a host of other useful shortcuts that can make your life much easier.

1. Add emojis anywhere you wish (Control + Command + Space)

You probably know how to add emojis in text messages – and in emails too. But you can also add them anywhere else you can imagine by simply pressing Control + Command + Space Bar. Press those three keys and you’ll see your emoji menu pop up, complete with smiley faces, a smiling pile of poo, twin girls in matching black leotards – or whatever else strikes your fancy.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

2. Compose an Email (Command + Shift + I)

If you find that you need to compose an email in a snap, simply use the Command + Shift + I shortcut. This opens up Mail compose page on Mail for Mac, allowing you to dig right into posting rather than being sent to the inbox.

3. Find a file on your Mac (Command + Space)

The combination that can change your life, Command + Space invokes Spotlight search tool. Whenever you want to find a file on your Mac, just tap this shortcut and type the name of the file you’d like the find in the prompt that pops up. The results are instant. Spotlight will also search through things like iMessages, bookmarks, and the full text of files on your hard drive. It’s also a quick way to find and open apps you don’t keep on your dock.

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15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

4. Escape any trouble (Esc)

Never underestimate the power of the Esc key to get you out of trouble. Say you’re taking a screen shot and managed to select part of your screen for that shot, only to discover it’s the wrong part– tap Esc and you won’t need to worry about it. That’s basically the principle of Esc. Use it to cancel a previous command. Another example: Web page won’t load and is sucking up your system resources? Tap Esc….

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

5. Quick look to preview files (Click + Space)

If you want to see what a file looks like but you don’t want to waste time opening the associated app, select the file in a Finder folder and then press the space bar. This also works with files on the desktop. A full-page preview will pop up — and with Markup options, too. This works for everything from images and PDFs to Microsoft Excel files.

6. Define a word (Command + Control + D)

Most Mac OS X and iOS iDevices allow you to define highlighted words. To do this through a Mac shortcut, simply highlight click (even without highlighting) any part of the word you want to define, then press Command + Control + D.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

7. Move files to Trash (Command + Delete)

Once you try it you won’t believe why you manually mouse dragged files onto the trash icon for all those years. To move a file or folder to your trash, simply select it and click Command + Delete. So easy. And by the way, if you ever accidentally move something to the trash that you didn’t mean to, all you have to do is press Command + Z to undo the last thing you did.

8. Take screenshots or record the screen

As you can probably imagine, these shortcuts are widely used at Macworld. There are actually several ways you can take a screenshot on a Mac.

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Command + Shift + 3: Screenshot the entire visible window. If you can see it on your Mac’s screen, it’ll show up in the screenshot.

Command + Shift + 4: Screenshot a specific area of the screen with the help of a rectangular cropping tool. This is the one I use the most, and it’s also great for sharing images or snippets of text on social media.

Command + Shift + 5: Beginning with macOS Mojave, Apple made it easy to see all your screenshotting tools at once with this shortcut. Press it, and you’ll see a toolbar that gives you options for capturing the entire screen, capturing a specific window, of capturing a specific portion of a window. You can also use it to record either the entire screen or a portion of it and choose where to save the image or video file. (By default, screenshots save to the desktop.)

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

9. Lock your Mac (Command + Control + Q)

If you’re stepping away from your desk at home or the office and you don’t want someone snooping around on your Mac, press this shortcut and your Mac will immediately switch to the lock screen. It’s a heck of a lot faster than doing it through the menu bar or even shutting it down.

10. Get to preferences (Command + Comma)

This is one of the least-known keyboard commands on a Mac, but it’s super useful. It works like this: You are working in an app, and you want to open the application’s Preferences. You can navigate to the Menu bar if you like and scroll through to access the Preferences. Or you can simply press Command + Comma to get to them in the fastest possible time.

11. Hide apps instantly (Command + H)

Here’s one for sneaky folks. If you’re looking at something you don’t want an approaching boss, parent, or friend to see, tap Command + H shortcut and the active open window will vanish. To start using the app again, press the app’s icon on either the dock or the App Switcher.

You can do this for all active apps by holding down Command + Option and pressing your mouse on any visible part of your desktop. Every app will “hide”. It’s a great way to declutter your desktop. 

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12. Cycle Open Applications (Command + Tab)

If you have a ton of applications open, you can cycle through them all and easily access them without even touching your trackpad. Open application switcher, keeping Command pressed, use Tab to navigate to the app you hope to use.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Mac Could Do

13. Scroll to very top/bottom (Command + Up or Down)

There are multiple ways to scroll. You can click the scroll bar on the left of the screen, you can use your trackpad, or you can use the keyboard arrows. However, when you press Command + Either the Up or Down Arrow, you can race to the top in lighting speed.

14. Immediately quit any app (Command + Q)

Use this command to shut down any app immediately. This command doesn’t just minimize the app (as sometimes happens when you hit the red “X” button at the top of any Mac app)—it completely shuts it down.

15. Force-quit an App (Command + Option + Q)

If an app is locked up (and Command + Q isn’t working for whatever reason), use this shortcut to force the app to quit.

You can also choose multiple apps to force-quit by pressing Command + Option + Esc, which is much like using Control-Alt+Delete on a PC. Instead of the Task Manager, though, you’ll get a window that says Force Quit Applications and you can choose which app you want to close from there.

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