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Top X keyboard shortcuts in OS X

David Chartier

It's a slow weekend here at TUAW, so I figured I'd post a tip on keyboard shortcuts I've been meaning to get to for a little while here. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a nut for keyboard shortcuts. They're a proven way to get work done faster, which means I get to cut back on buying Advil in bulk. So what better way to post handy, time-saving keyboard shortcuts than with a Top X list?

I searched through our archives while putting this list together to try and find shortcuts that either haven't been mentioned before, or they're fundamental favorites that everyone could use a reminder on. While some of these shortcuts might work in various applications, I'm specifically targeting OS X key commands here. Last but not least: I'm also trying to list shortcuts everyone can enjoy, from the elite OS X ninja to those who are reading this on their first Mac which they pulled out of the box just yesterday. So without further adieu, here are my Top X keyboard shortcuts for OS X, in no particular order:

  1. cmd + k - Transmit is my favorite FTP app, but for quick and easy FTP stuff, cmd + k is OS X's built-in "Connect to Server" command, found under the Go menu in the Finder. Not nearly as feature-packed as most apps, but it's fine for any basic work.
  2. cmd + opt + i - Most of us know about cmd + i, which is the Get Info command, but if you throw opt into the mix you now have a window widely known (yet undocumented) as "Super Get Info." This handy window is basically a live Get Info window, changing with each file and folder you click on, enabling you to view and alter many file and folder stats (such as Spotlight Comments and what apps open what files) with one single window.
  3. cmd + opt + h - Hide Others. Cmd + h is great for hiding the app you're in, but Hide Others does just what it says - it hides every other app you aren't in. Great for cleaning up a cluttered view.
  4. cmd + shift + 3/4 - the infamous Screen Capture keys. Using 3 allow you to capture the entire screen to a pdf (Panther) or a png (Tiger) on your desktop, while using 4 will give you an all-too-handy aimer to drag out an exact capture area. For bonus points: after the cmd + shift + 4 combo is triggered, you can then hit space bar for the option of capturing whatever window the mouse is hovered over. No dragging required.
  5. cmd + w - yes I know this one's pretty obvious to some, but it's a great shortcut for new OS X users, and a fundamental shortcut across all of OS X and the apps that run on it. Nearly every application, not just Finder windows, obey the cmd + w command, making it easy to get almost any window out of your way quickly.
  6. This one's a three-punch combo: 1) cmd + opt + eject,  2) cmd + ctrl + eject, and 3) cmd + opt + ctrl + eject. What do these weird and undocumented shortcuts do, you ask? Well, in order, they sleep, restart and shutdown your Mac of course. Each of those combinations will force their respective function, unless you have open files that have yet to be saved.
  7. cmd + opt + d - show/hide the dock. A great way to free up some extra room in that screen real estate-hungry app you're running.
  8. cmd + [ and ] - forward and back in not only the Finder, but Safari and now Firefox as well. I'm sure there are more apps that obey this, as it's a handy way to move through a lot of web research or folder digging.
  9. cmd + shift + ? - yes, another basic one, but even you OS X ninjas must admit to cracking a help file or two every now and then. This is another handy shortcut as it's universal among OS X and most of its apps.
  10. cmd + opt + esc - not to be left out, I had to mention the last-resort shortcut for misbehaving applications. For new OS X users, this is a shortcut for the Force Quit menu, a sibling to ctrl - alt - delete. For the few times I need it, this is a handy shortcut as it's obtainable with only one hand.
So there you have it. I hope at least a few of these can bring some joy to your workflow.  Feel free to discuss and add your own shortcuts in the comments, just make sure they meet the requirement of working in OS X.


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