Since your fingers are nearly always on the keyboard, controlling your computer without using your mouse can put you into the upper echelon of efficient Mac users.

Learn keyboard shortcuts

Since keyboard shortcuts are the mouse avoider’s most obvious tools, start with these. Learn the basics: Cmd-X, Cmd-C, and Cmd-V for cut, copy, and paste; Cmd-W to close a window; and Cmd-Tab to switch between open applications.

Many Cmd-Tab lovers forget about Cmd-`(backtick). This shortcut moves you from window to window within the current application.

And who among us hasn’t ended up with too many windows filled with too many tabs in our favourite web browser? The Cmd-` shortcut (and its sibling that rotates through open windows in reverse, Cmd-Shift-`) is a great tool for hopping between windows. When you’re in those windows, you can switch between your tabs with Cmd-Shift-[ (left square bracket) and Cmd-Shift-] (right square bracket). These all work in Apple’s Safari; but will vary in other browsers.

Create your own shortcuts

Don’t see the shortcut you want? Make your own in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of OS X’s Keyboard preference pane

If there’s a particular menu command that you use frequently, and it either lacks a corresponding keyboard shortcut or you don’t like the shortcut that’s assigned to it, you can always assign it your own key combination.

Launch System Preferences, go to the Keyboard preference pane, choose the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, and then click on Application Shortcuts. Click the plus-sign (+) button, choose the application you want to add a shortcut for, type in the menu command (exactly as it appears in the program’s menu), and then select the key combination you’d like to use. Now you can access the shortcut at any time.

Gain full access

While you’re in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, make sure you turn on Full Keyboard Access, which lets you use the Tab key to switch keyboard focus among all the active programs. For example, as you navigate web pages, forms, and dialog boxes on your Mac, you can use the Tab key to quickly switch between each field, instead of having to click your mouse in one field after the other.

Whenever you can use Tab to advance between fields, you can also hold down Shift when you press Tab to advance focus in the opposite direction. Press Escape to close dialog boxes you don’t want to have open any more.

Keyboard shortcuts can also replace the mouse when you’re editing text. Pressing Cmd-Shift-Left Arrow or Cmd-Shift-Right Arrow selects all text, starting from your cursor, in the selected direction. Option-Shift-Left Arrow or Option-Shift-Right Arrow selects a word at a time in the text you have open.

Tap into keyboard power

Once you become a true keyboard devotee, you can start using Spotlight, or even more powerful third-party apps like Running with Crayons’ free Alfred (www.alfredapp.com) as well as Objective Development’s €24 (£14) LaunchBar (www.obdev.at/index.html) to do so much more with your keyboard than you ever thought possible with no mouse involved. Soon you’ll be launching apps, performing complex calculations, visiting web pages, and even controlling iTunes.