Keyboard shortcuts make using a Mac quicker and easier. Here are the essential Mac shortcuts for power users.
You can always tell a Mac power user because whatever application they're using, they know the keyboard shortcuts. Forget trawling through the dropdown menus; these guys get the job done in a quarter of the time by learning the two-, three- or four-button combinations that will invoke a command right away.
Here, then, are the essential Mac keyboard shortcuts. These all work in Mac OS X's Finder, but most will work in all the major Mac applications. We've grouped the raw shortcuts at the top for ease of reference, but we explain some of the subtleties and variations in more detail below. Get in touch if you think we've missed any that should be mentioned, and we'll update this article in future with more handy keyboard shortcuts.
(If you're confused about the buttons, the 'Apple' key is also known as the 'Command' key, and the 'Alt' key is also known as 'Option'. See 'What and where is the Mac Option key' for more info.)
Copy: Apple + C
Paste: Apple + V
Cut: Apple + X
Paste without formatting: Shift + Apple + V
Right click: Ctrl + click
Access Force-Quit menu: Alt + Apple + Esc
Access Sleep/Restart/Shutdown menu: Ctrl + Eject
Sleep: Alt + Apple + Eject
Restart: Ctrl + Apple + Eject
Shutdown: Ctrl + Alt + Apple + Eject
Select all: Apple + A
Save: Apple + S
Find (or open the Find/Replace menu): Apple + F
Increase size of text: Apple + Plus key
Decrease size of text: Apple + Minus key
(These don't work in Finder, but are still very useful. They work in most text edit and word processing apps, and in most browsers too.)
Take screenshot: Shift + Apple + 4 (although see the variations in our article 'How to take a screenshot on a Mac')
Create a new window or document: Apple + N
(In web browsers) Create a new tab: Apple + T
Close down a document, tab or window: Apple + W
Undo: Apple + Z
Redo: Apple + Y (this is in applications with multiple undoes. If you only get one undo - in Photoshop CS5, for instance - pressing Apple + Z a second time invokes redo instead)
How to copy and paste on a Mac
You can copy and paste text on a Mac using dropdown menus (almost always they'll be under the Edit menu of whatever app you're using) but shortcuts will save time. Press Apple + C to copy the text you've highlighted, then Apple + V to paste it elsewhere.
If you're using a desktop publishing program such as Adobe InDesign or Quark, though, you may find it annoying that by default the copies text brings its formatting - font, colour etc - with it. If you're cutting text from body copy and pasting it into a picture caption, for instance, you won't want to keep the body copy style.
That's what the Paste without Formatting option is for. Hit Shift + Apple + V and the pasted text will simply default to whatever formatting is currently being used in the text box it's dropped into.
How to right-click on a MacBook trackpad (or other Mac keyboard)
Apple mice sometimes don't come with left- and right-click buttons - you just get a single button. And trackpads, too, frequently give you only a single click option. But you often need to right-click - so what's the solution?
Hold Ctrl while clicking, and most situations and applications will treat your click as a right-click.
How to force-quit on a Mac - or force-quit the Mac itself
If an application has locked up, you won't always be able to access the menus to get to the Force Quit option. Instead, try Apple + Alt + Esc, and Mac OS X will offer you a selection of running apps and ask which you want to force-quit. Remember that you'll lose any unsaved work in the app you force to close.
What if you want to shut down the whole Mac? You can access the Sleep, Restart and Shut Down options via the Apple menu at the top left, but to access these options from the keyboard press Ctrl + Eject.
If you want to skip this menu entirely, you can simply press Alt + Apple + Eject to put the Mac to sleep, Ctrl + Apple + Eject to restart, and Ctrl + Alt + Apple + Eject to shut down. For the latter two, you'll be given the option to save work in running applications.
If the Mac locks up completely and irretrievably, remember that you can press and hold the power button. Wait for around 10-20 seconds and it will restart. But this is reasonably drastic and is likely to lose you some work.