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All* my macOS keyboard shortcuts

*Not literally all, but certainly those which I find most useful, and which also might not be all that widely known.

I use macOS to build websites and compose music. This post is a collection of keyboard shortcuts and modifiers that help my day-to-day productivity.

macOS native shortcuts and modifiers permalink

Useful shortcuts already defined by the system.

Window management permalink

  • Command-Backtick: cycle current application’s windows
  • Command-H: hide active application’s windows1
  • Command-Option-H: hide all windows expect those belonging to the active application’s1:1
  • Hold Option while resizing window: change window dimension(s)2 around the window’s current centre point
  • Hold Option-Shift while resizing window: change window dimensions around the window’s current centre point while maintaining aspect ratio

(See also Rectangle Pro.)

Special characters permalink

  • Hold $KEY in text fields to get pop-up menu of given character with diacritic markings
  • Control-Command-Space bar: open Character Viewer (emoji and symbols picker)
  • Option-Hyphen: insert en dash (–)
  • Option-Shift-Hyphen: em dash (—)
  • Option-Close square bracket: opening single curly quote (‘)
  • Option-Shift-Close square bracket: closing single curly quote (’)
  • Option-Open square bracket: opening double curly quote (“)
  • Option-Shift-Open square bracket: closing single curly quote (”)
Keyboard shortcuts for various special characters.

You can also search the Character Viewer (Control-Command-Space bar) by name, for ‘en dash’ etc.

‘Hidden’ functionality permalink

Holding the Option key while clicking or hovering over a UI element can reveal additional functionality or information. Some examples: the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth menubar icons; the ‘Plus’ button when building a Finder search (allowing you to enhance the search logic); and application dropdown menus in the menu bar.

One I find useful is ‘Copy as Pathname’ in the Finder Edit menu:

Press the Option key to reveal additional functionality, such as ‘Copy as Pathname’
Press the Option key to reveal additional functionality, such as ‘Copy as Pathname’ in the Finder Edit menu.

Custom OS mappings permalink

You can assign application keyboard shortcuts in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts:

Set application shortcuts in System Preferences
Set application shortcuts in System Preferences.
  • Control-Option-Command-M in Finder: run Window > Merge All Windows
  • Command-Option-I in Preview: Adjust Size… from the Tools menu
  • Shift-Command-Forward slash in all apps: ‘Show Help menu’ (to search menu items):
Use Shift-Command-Forward slash to search menu items. Particularly useful in apps like Adobe Illustrator, where there are tons of menu options.

Rectangle Pro permalink

Rectangle Pro logo

Third-party window manager. Includes window snapping à la Microsoft Windows. The keyboard shortcuts I use:

  • Shift-Command-Enter: current window to medium size, centred (custom shortcut)
  • Command-Option-Enter: ‘Almost Maximize’
  • Control-Option-Command-Enter: full screen, with some padding, centred (custom shortcut)
  • Control-Option-Command-Left Arrow: ‘Left Half’
  • Control-Option-Command-Right Arrow: ‘Right Half’
  • Control-Option-Command-Down Arrow: ‘Center’
  • Control-Option-Command-Escape: ‘Restore’
Custom shortcuts in Rectangle Pro.
Custom shortcuts in Rectangle Pro.

Karabiner-Elements permalink

Rectangle Pro logo

Third-party keyboard customiser that I use to open and switch between commonly used apps with a single keystroke. It’s generally more efficient than using a trackpad or mouse, Spotlight, LaunchBar or Command-Tabing.

I generally assign Control-Shift-$KEY to these.

  • Control-Shift-U: launch/switch to Apple Music
  • Control-Shift-C: Calendar
  • Caps Lock3: Finder
  • Control-Option-Shift-D: Downloads folder in Finder
  • Control-Shift-F: Firefox
  • Control-Shift-D: Firefox Developer Edition
  • Control-Shift-G: Google Chrome
  • Control-Shift-I: iTerm
  • Shift-Caps Lock: Logic Pro
  • Control-Shift-M: Microsoft Teams
  • Control-Shift-N: Nova
  • Control-Shift-S: Safari
  • Control-Shift-P: Spotify
  • Control-Shift-T: Terminal
  • Control-Shift-R: Transmit
  • Control-Option-Shift-V: Visual Studio
  • Control-Shift-V: Visual Studio Code

Assign shortcuts by editing profiles[0].simple_modifications in ~/.config/karabiner/karabiner.json4. For example, to open Firefox Developer Edition:

"from": {
"key_code": "d",
"modifiers": {
"mandatory": [
"to": [
"shell_command": "open /Applications/Firefox\\ Developer\\"

Or to open Finder (or whatever you have assigned as your default file browser):

"from": {
"key_code": "caps_lock"
"to": [
"consumer_key_code": "al_local_machine_browser"

Open several Finder windows at specific locations permalink

I use Control-Option-Shift-J to open several Finder windows5 at locations relevant to my project:

"from": {
"key_code": "j",
"modifiers": {
"mandatory": [
"to": [
"shell_command": "open ~/Documents/dev/\\ process\\ files\\ \\(Hazel\\); open ~/Documents/dev/jazztoolkit/site/audio; open ~/Library/Mobile\\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/Logic\\ projects/; open ~/Library/Mobile\\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/Logic\\ projects/\\ etc."

Third-party app-specific permalink

Some third-party apps which I find useful enough to assign keyboard shortcuts to. The shortcuts are defined within the apps themselves.

I generally assign Control-Option(-Command)-$KEY to these.

  • Control-Option-C: open Copy ’Em (clipboard manager)
  • Control-Option-F: Dato6 (menubar calendar app)
  • Control-Option-Command-Space: (developer tools)
  • Control-Option-Command-F: Dropzone (file management and general productivity booster)
  • Control-Z: Menuwhere (get the Mac menu bar wherever your cursor is)
  • Control-Option-Command-N: Quick Note > new note
  • Shift-Command-2: Snappy (take screenshots which remain in front of other windows) > new snap
  • Control-Option-Command-C: System Color Picker (OS-wide access to an enhanced system colour picker) > pick colour

(I also use aText for text automation/expansion, but that’s probably a separate blog post.)

  1. Useful for decluttering your workspace. ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. It depends on the position of the cursor on the window edge as to whether the X, Y or both X and Y dimensions are affected. ↩︎

  3. I first disabled the Caps Lock key for its default purpose: search ‘Reset modifier keys’ in System Preferences and set ‘Caps Lock (⇪) Key’ to No Action. ↩︎

  4. This location is accessible via Karabiner-Elements preferences under Misc > Export & Import > Open config folder […]. ↩︎

  5. If you hold down Command while positioning the Finder windows, the OS should remember the coordinates. ↩︎

  6. F because I used to use Fantastical. ↩︎