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Macintosh Key Commands

The following is a list of key commands. Keep in mind that these are not all of the key commands, as it would be next to impossible to find and list every single command for every single program available. Most of these commands involve the Finder or Desktop.

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Explanation of the Keys Mentioned
  • The Command key (or Apple key) is located immediately either side of the space bar. On most keyboards it has a small Apple symbol on the left bottom corner.
  • The Option key is located on the left next to the left hand Apple key. It is also labelled the Alt key.
  • The Control key. This is located on the far left and right bottom of the keyboard and is identified by the letters CTRL.
  • The Reset key. This is located at the top right hand side of the keyboard. It has an arrow that on it that points to the left. NB: This DOES NOT refer to the reset key on the computer base unit itself.
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Getting out of freezes

If your computer freezes while you are using it, the following key combinations may help to recover from the freeze.

  • Reset - Turns your computer on and off. Your work will be saved before the computer shuts down. NB: This DOES NOT refer to the reset key on the computer base unit itself - using this key will NOT save your work.
  • Command + Period - Cancels an operation in progress.
  • Command + Option + Escape - Forces a program to quit. Unsaved work will be lost.
  • Command + Option + Shift + Reset - Restarts or shuts down the computer (on some models). Unsaved work will be lost.
  • Command + Control + Reset - Forces the computer to restart. Unsaved work will be lost.
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Key Combinations on Startup

Holding down the individual key or key combination during startup will provide the described results.

  • Command + Option - Rebuilds the Desktop file. If some of your files have lost their usual icons or your getting a message that the application that created the file you are opening can't be found, it's time to rebuild the Desktop. The Desktop is an invisible database that stores information about your files (icons), the application used to create them, etc. You can release the keys, when the Macintosh asks you if you really want to rebuild the Desktop. Click Yes and the process begins. If you have several hard disk or partitions that appear when you start up, the Macintosh will ask you about rebuilding the Desktop for each volume in succession. When your normal Desktop is displayed, the process is complete.
  • Shift - Turns off extensions in the Extensions folder. Used to disable extensions and items in the Startup folder. Generally done prior to loading new software to your Macintosh or for locating an extensions issue.
  • Option- Closes all open windows in the Finder.
  • Command + Option + P + R - Resets Chooser and control panel settings stored in parameter RAM. PRAM or parameter RAM is a small area of memory in which the Macintosh stores settings. These settings, such as the preferences you select in the General Controls and Sounds control panels, can get corrupted. Clearing PRAM using this key command combination can sometimes cure a variety of otherwise inexplicable problems. However, you will have to reset the above mentioned control panels the way you want them after you zap the PRAM (resets options such as date and time).
  • C - Starts up the computer from a CD.
  • Command + Option + Shift + Delete - Bypasses the startup disk when starting up.
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Working with Icons
  • Arrow Keys - Selects the icon above, below, to the left, or to the right of the selected icon.
  • Letter keys - Selects the icon whose name begins with the letters typed.
  • Tab - Selects the next icon alphabetically.
  • Shift + Click icon - Selects all of the icons clicked.
  • Drag across icons - Selects all icons in the group.
  • Option + Double-click icon - Opens the icon and closes the window the icon is in.
  • Option + Drag icon to folder - Copies the icon to the folder.
  • Return - Highlights the name of the selected icon.
  • Command + Drag icon(s) - Aligns selected icon(s) to the nearest grid-point.
  • Command + Option + Drag icon - Creates an alias of the icon.
  • Command + Delete - Moves selected icons to the Trash.
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Working with Windows
  • Option + Click close box - Closes all disk and folder windows.
  • Option + Click collapse box - Collapses all disk and folder windows.
  • Command + W - Closes the frontmost window, or collapses a pop-up window to its tab state at the bottom of the screen.
  • Command + Shift + W - Closes the frontmost window and converts it from a pop-up window to a normal Finder window.
  • Command + Option + Shift + W - Closes all open windows and converts them from pop-up windows to normal Finder windows.
  • Option + Click zoom box - Enlarges a window to the full size of the screen.
  • Option + Switch programs - Hides the windows of the previous program.
  • Command + Drag window - Moves a window without making it active.
  • Command + Press window's title - Displays a pop-up menu of folders to which the current folder belongs.
  • Command + Right Arrow Key - In a list view, expands the contents of the selected folder(s).
  • Command + Left Arrow Key - In a list view, collapses the contents of the selected folder(s).
  • Option + Expand folder - In a list view, expands the contents of the folder and all folders contained within it.
  • Option + Collapse folder - In a list view, collapses the contents of the folder and all folders contained within it.
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Saving Files

These shortcuts work in Save dialogue boxes. A plus sign (+) means keys are held down together.

  • Up & Down Arrow Keys - Selects the item above or below the selected item.
  • Letter keys - Selects an item in the active list whose name begins with the letters typed.
  • Tab - Moves to the next keyboard focus item.
  • Home - Moves to the top of the scrolling list.
  • End - Moves to the bottom of the scrolling list.
  • Page Up - Scrolls the list up one screen.
  • Page Down - Scrolls the list down one screen.
  • Command + Up Arrow Key - Moves up one level in the file hierarchy.
  • Command + D or Command + Shift + Up Arrow Key - Changes current location to the desktop.
  • Command + O or Command + Down Arrow Key - Opens the selected folder or volume.
  • Command + Option + O or Option - Selects the original of an alias.
  • Command + N - Creates a new folder.
  • Command + S - Clicks the Save button (if it is active).
  • Return or Enter - Clicks the default button (usually Save or Open).
  • Esc or Command + Period - Closes the dialogue box.

Additional keyboard shortcuts for the new Save dialogue box

The following keyboard shortcuts also work in the new Save dialogue box.

  • Option + Right Arrow Key - Displays the next location in a historical sequence (similar to the "Forward" command in Web browsers).
  • Option + Left Arrow Key - Displays the previous location in a historical sequence (similar to the "Back" command in Web browsers).
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Opening Files

These shortcuts work in Open dialogue boxes. A plus sign (+) means keys are held down together.

  • Up & Down Arrow Keys - Selects the item above or below the selected item.
  • Letter keys - Selects an item in the active list whose name begins with the letters typed.
  • Home - Moves to the top of the scrolling list.
  • End - Moves to the bottom of the scrolling list.
  • Page Up - Scrolls the list up one screen.
  • Page Down - Scrolls the list down one screen.
  • Command + Up Arrow - Moves up one level in the file hierarchy.
  • Command + D or Command + Shift + Up Arrow Key - Changes current location to the desktop.
  • Command + O or Command + Down Arrow Key - Opens the selected folder or volume.
  • Command + Option + O or Option + Open alias - Selects the original of an alias.
  • Return or Enter - Clicks the Open button.
  • Escape or Command + Period - Closes the dialogue box.

Keyboard shortcuts for the new Open dialogue box

The following keyboard shortcuts also work in the new Open dialogue box.

  • Command + A- Selects all files that can be opened (if the Edit menu is active).
  • Command + Right Arrow Key - Expands the selected folder or volume.
  • Command + Left Arrow Key - Collapses the selected folder or volume.
  • Option + Right Arrow Key - Displays the next location in a historical sequence (similar to the "Forward" command in Web browsers).
  • Option Left Arrow Key - Displays the previous location in a historical sequence (similar to the "Back" command in Web browsers).
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Taking Pictures of Your Screen

To create a picture file of all or parts of your screen, hold down these keys. (The file is saved on your startup disk.) A plus sign (+) means keys are held down together.

  • Command + Shift + 3 - Creates a picture file of the entire screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4 - Creates a picture file of a rectangular section of the screen. (After pressing and releasing the key combination, drag across the part of the screen you want to take a picture of.)
  • Command + Shift + 4 + Caps Lock - Creates a picture file of a window. (After pressing and releasing the key combination, click the window you want to take a picture of.)

Note: To copy a section of the screen or a window to the Clipboard instead of saving it as a file, press the Control key as you select the part of the screen or window.

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