Essential Keyboard Shortcuts


Assuming that you have mastered the Command + C, Command + V, and Command + Z basics, these are the next essential shortcuts you need to incorporate into your everyday workflow. They're easy to learn and you’ll start getting things done just a little bit quicker. At least, that’s what happened for me.

Work Faster With These Keyboard Shortcuts

1. Command + Space
Open Spotlight to quickly search for a file or application. Once you start searching your machine this way, you'll never go back.

2. Command + `
Cycle through the windows of your current open application. This one is great when you have a lot of windows open in one applications.

3. Command + Tab
Cycle through all of your open applications. This is very handy if you frequently jump between email, web, and design software.

4. Command + Control + Shift + 4
Take a screenshot and copy to clipboard. Simply paste into an email. If you leave out the Control key, then the screenshot will save to your desktop. (I've found that taking screenshots this way leads to a very cluttered desktop, so use with caution.)

5. Command + W
Close the current window. 'Nough said.

6. Command + N and Command + T
Open a new browser window. Open a new browser tab. It's just faster this way.

7 . Option + Select
Quickly duplicate a file by holding Option and selecting and dragging the file. If you place the file in a new folder, the file will retain its name. If you place the file in the same folder, "2" will be tacked on the end of the file name.

Create Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know you can customize your keyboard shortcuts? Not only that, but you can create your own shortcuts within different applications. This is helpful if you have specific things that you do all the time, or if you have keyboard shortcut habits that you don't want to break. For example, we're all familiar with Command + - to zoom out. OmniGraffle uses Command + <. It may seem minor, but it kept tripping me up. Well, here's how you can create your own shortcut:

1. Go to System Preferences.


2. Go to Keyboard.


3. Go to Shortcuts


4. Select the Application.


Select the application you want to create a shortcut for and click "+".

5. Type in Menu Title and Shortcut Keys.


Type in the name of the command you want to create a shortcut for (Menu Title). You must use the exact capitalization and spelling or it will not work. Then, type the shortcut keys as you would if you were doing the action you want it to do.

6. Save.
Click "Add" and you're all set!

Now go start practicing. You'll get the hang of these in no time.

Shannon Ruetsch is a user experience consultant based in New York City. She has an avid fondness for making lists and getting things done, but loves nothing more than getting lost in a good book. Say hello.