30 Useful MacOS Keyboard Shortcuts For Productivity

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Time is precious.

And keyboard shortcuts save me a lot of it. 

Over the last year of using MacOS as my primary operating system, I’ve picked up a bunch of useful keyboard shortcuts and tricks that drastically improve my productivity.

Whether it’s editing PDFs, moving files around in Finder, navigating the Safari browser, or performing other digital tasks keyboard shortcuts come in extremely handy.

What are the best Mac keyboard shortcuts for productivity?

First, one cool trick to help you learn almost any keyboard shortcut.

If you find yourself doing something repetitively over and over again in some application then chances are you can easily figure out a shortcut for that action without using Google or guessing.

Go up to the help menu and type in the name of the action.

MacOS will show you where that action is in the menu bar and beside it you’ll find the keyboard shortcut.

By using this method I discovered so many incredible shortcuts that saved me hundreds of hours of time over the long term.

So here are my favorite Mac productivity keyboard Shortcuts:


This one quits apps on Mac. By default when you close a Mac app it just closes its window and not the entire application. So you can use Command-Q to fully close an app and all of its windows.

You can think of it as the Alt+F4 shortcut on Windows.


When you try to download something from your browser the “save as” dialog box usually comes up. 

You can use this shortcut to quickly jump to your desktop folder while saving something.


If an app has crashed or is not responding use this shortcut and you’ll be able to force quit it.

It’s just like opening the task manager and pressing “End Task” on Windows.


This keystroke combination is similar to Alt + Tab on Windows. 

It lets you switch between all your open apps

It’s one of the best shortcuts to master for productivity.


If you highlight any picture, text document, pdf, or video file you can press the spacebar to quickly preview it without having to open it.


This keyboard shortcut lets you paste and match the style of text at the same time.

If you copy a piece of text from somewhere and it has a different format, then pasting it normally with Command + V will keep the source formatting. 

That’s when a shortcut like this could save you some time.

Holding Command

If you hold Command it will let you press something in a background app without activating it

It could be also used to move a background app without deactivating the one in the foreground.


Instead of right-clicking on the trashcan and then selecting empty bin, press Command + Shift + Backspace and then hit enter to quickly empty your trash

Or maybe you don’t want things to end up in the trash can in the first place, press Command-Option-Delete and you’ll permanently delete files right away.


If you frequently install or uninstall apps just come to your desktop and press Command-Shift-A which will bring up the applications folder

This reduces the friction of having to navigate there using Finder. 

Alternatively, you can also click “Go” and choose “Applications” from your desktop or even faster, hold down Command and click on any app in your dock (except Finder) to get to the Applications folder. 


If you want to cut something on Mac you can’t do it by pressing Command-X like you would on Windows.

However, you can copy a file with Command-C and then move it somewhere else with Command-Option-V which will cut and paste that file on Mac.


This shortcut will quickly insert an arrow when you’re annotating a screenshot or a picture in Preview. 


Brings up the print menu where you can save text files as PDFs.

Speaking of printing, it’s also possible to set a password to a PDF by choosing “Security options” in the print menu, and then selecting “Require password to open document”.

Once you export it with a password you’ll have to enter it in to view your PDF. 


Use this keystroke combination to quit the windows of certain apps. 

For example, in your browser, this shortcut will close a tab that’s active

In Photoshop it will close the current image that you’re working with.

In Finder, it will close the current tab that you have open and so on. 


This shortcut is the opposite of Command-W. 

It opens new tabs of different apps.

So in your browser, it will open a new tab.

You can also press Command-Shift-T to reopen the most recently closed tab in your browser.

If I had to pick one shortcut from this whole list, this one would be my favourite.


Speaking of browsers, this combination will open an incognito tab and let you browse the web privately.


It will highlight the address bar in your web browser so you can quickly start searching for something. 

There’s also another use case for this shortcut.

If you open an image in Preview (by pressing the spacebar) and then press Command-L it will rotate the image 90 degrees to the left

You can also Command-R to rotate the image right.


Universal search command. 

It allows you to open the search bar and search for something in various different programs. 

For example, pressing Command-F in your browser lets you search for a specific word on the current webpage that you’re on.

Pressing it in a PDF lets you do the same but in a PDF.

And it works with most things where you could potentially search for something.


Captures your entire screen and saves the screenshot to your desktop.

There’s much more to taking screenshots on Mac so here’s a 2-minute video guide about all the ins and outs.


Lets you capture a selected portion of your screen by dragging a rectangle around it

It also saves the screenshot to the desktop.

You can hold space to move the rectangle around if you started your screenshot in the wrong place.


Lets you record your screen or a selected app’s window.

Holding Option while resizing a window

Allows you to resize app windows proportionally from the center instead of from the corner.

Holding Option while clicking the time icon in the menu bar

If you hold Option and click on the time in your menu bar it will automatically toggle on Do not disturb

This is a quick way to enable do not disturb mode without having to go into the notification center.


Opens spotlight search.

With Spotlight, you can search for any file or program on your computer, browse the internet, do simple calculations, and even track flights if you have the flight number. 

Option-LeftArrow or Option-RightArrow

This shortcut allows you to jump between words instead of letters in a paragraph of text.

It’s a quick way to navigate to words in a paragraph that you want to change or delete without having to move letter by letter or use the trackpad.


It’s usually faster to retype the entire word rather than correct a single-letter mistake in the middle

So this shortcut deletes entire words instead of one letter at a time.


On MacBooks without the touchpad pressing F3 will toggle mission control.

You can use mission control to quickly multitask and switch between open apps on your Mac.

Alternatively, you can use Control + Up arrow to toggle mission control.

Command-Plus(+) or Command-Minus(-)

Zooms in or out.

Alternatively, you can zoom in or out by holding down Command and scrolling with your mouse wheel or pinching out with two fingers on the trackpad. 


Force-quits the front-most application.

Rather than opening the force quit window with Command + Option + Esc you can use this shortcut which will immediately force quit any not responding app that is active.


Moves files to the bin.

Instead of dragging something to the trash you can hit this keyboard shortcut and It’ll be moved there in an instant.


If you have an app minimized switching to it with Command-Tab will not maximize it.

But pressing Option-Command-Tab will not only focus the app’s window but also maximize the app from the dock if it was minimized

Were these MacBook keyboard shortcuts useful?

By learning a few simple key combinations, you can speed up your workflow and get things done faster on your Mac.

Obviously, it’s hard to memorize all of them at once

That’s why I recommend bookmarking this page to use as a cheat sheet once you need to brush up on some shortcuts that you may have forgotten.

I’ll keep updating this list with new useful shortcuts that I come across.

You can also press Command + F to open the search bar and quickly search for any shortcut within this page.

Also, here’s a video I made with some useful Mac tips & tricks:

And keyboard shortcuts aren’t the only thing that’ll increase your productivity on Mac. 

That’s why I recommend checking out this list of the best Mac apps to streamline your workflow even further.

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