Newbie Tip: Crucial shortcuts you NEED to use

There are a few shortcuts every mac user needs to remember. They will make your mac experience much smoother and your workflow more efficient.

The main reason to use shortcuts is so you can spend more time with your hands on the keyboard instead of the mouse or trackpad. Forgoing the mouse or trackpad completely is almost impossible, but forgoing them occasionally will definitely speed you up.

Before starting, first go to the Apple menu (top left), System Preferences, Keyboard & Mouse, Keyboard Shortcuts, and select “All controls” at the bottom.

#1 – Buttons

The first shortcut is for buttons (Save, Cancel, Accept, etc). Take a look at this typical pop-up dialog:

Picture 31.jpg

Note that the “Don’t Save” button has a blue outline. Anytime a button has that blue outline, it means you can press “space-bar” to select it. So in the above example, you could press “space-bar” to select “Don’t Save.”

The “Save” button is shimmering blue, that means you can press the “return” key to select it. So in the above example, to select “Save” without clicking your mouse button, simply click “return” on your keyboard.

There are two ways we can select the “Cancel” button without using the mouse. The easiest way is pressing “esc” – that will almost always choose “Cancel.”

The second way to select cancel is via “tab.” This is very important to note, “tab” is a shortcut junkie’s best friend. Since we selected “All controls” at the beginning of this little tutorial, we can use “tab” to select just about anything selectable.

So, to select “Cancel” in the above display, just press “tab” once. This will move the blue outline from “Don’t Save” to “Cancel.” Now you can press “space bar” to select the blue-outlined button.

Picture 33.jpg

Try using “tab” everywhere; here are a couple more example of how it can be used:

• Move from Safari’s address bar, to the google search bar, to all the bookmarks in your “bookmarks bar”

• Move from your mailboxes in Mail, to individual messages, to the mail buttons like “reply” and “junk”

• Also, use “select+tab” to move in the opposite direction

#2 The Most Basic Universal Shortcuts

These shortcuts will work in 95% of all mac programs. Remember them, use them, they will save you TIME! How much? I don’t know, but probably about the same amount of time you waist using pennies.

• Apple+Q – Quit program (including all windows)

• Apple+W – Close current window

• Apple+S – Save

• Apple+P – Print

• Apple+N – New window

• Apple+’ (that’s the button next to “1”) – Cycle windows within current application (crucial if you like a lot of Safari windows for example; doesn’t work in most Adobe programs – but they have another shortcut)

• Apple+H – Hides all windows in current application (this is much better than minimizing a window, as it works perfectly with Alt-Tab, and minimizing usually doesn’t).

#3 Command+Tab: Application Switcher

Try this: hold the “apple” button and tap “tab” (keep “apple” pressed down). Press ” ` ” (next to the number 1). Let go of “apple.” You should have seen something similar to this:


Let me explain what’s happening. This menu shows every application you currently have open. Here’s how it works:

• hold “apple”

• tap “tab” (application switcher menu appears – in order of when the application was last used – oldest on the right)

• tap “tab” again and you select the next application to the right (or press the “right arrow”)

• tab ” ` ” to select the previous application on the left (or press the “left arrow”)

• let go of “apple” to activate the selected application!

Also, at any point you can press “esc” (with “apple” still pressed down) to cancel out of this menu.

That’s the basics and all you really need to know to improve your efficiency. Now you can avoid using the dock to switch programs, this will save time for sure. But you can also do a couple other things when this menu is up:

menu is open and you are holding “apple”

• tap “q” to quit the selected application

• tab “h” to hide the selected application

Using this method is the easiest way to quickly Quit or Hide a bunch of programs in a row. When you quit the selected application with this menu, the next application is automatically selected. So you can keep pressing “q” or “h” (with “apple” pressed) to quit or hide application after application, without having to re-open this menu.

#4 Navigating Finder

Desktop is one of most common folders accessed. If you are ever in Finder (or a Save/Open dialog box) and want to quickly get to the Desktop, press “Shift+Apple+D”. You can also quickly reach the Utilities folder with “Shift+Apple+U”, Applications folder with “Shift+Apple+A”, and your Home folder (the one with your user name) with “Shift+Apple+H).

You also probably know about the different Finder views: Icons, List, Columns, Cover Flow (in 10.5). To quickly switch between them, hold “apple” and click “1” for Icons, “2” for List, “3” for Columns (my favorite), and “4” for Cover Flow.

New with Leopard, once you select a file in Finder, press “space-bar” to see a “quick look” preview of the file (this works with Microsoft Office documents, audio files, even movies, and is much faster than opening up Word or iTunes or Quicktime; but keep in mind you can’t edit the file).

Commit these shortcuts to memory and your mac experience will be even more delightful.

More newbie tips coming soon…

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