How To: Survive Using Your Keyboard Only

How to survive using your keyboard only; here are some shortcuts.

Users with MacBooks need to include the function (fn) key in commands involving F#-keys.

ctrl + F2

opens access to your menu bar, which is navigated with arrows, enter, or letters (for a shortcut, type the first letter of the menu item you want to access.

ctrl + F3

opens up access to your dock, which can be navigated in the same way as the menu bar.

NOTE: If those actions are not working, then press

ctrl + F1

to activate/deactivate the commands.

Don’t forget the simple shortcuts too, like

Command + Shift + A

which opens your applications folder (only works when on Finder; Safari for instance, gives you autofill preferences…)

Other shortcuts you must know are:

Empty trash: Command + Shift + Delete
Quit application: Command + Q
Close current window: Command + W

UPDATE: oli4 reminded me with his comment; to see a directory of shortcuts, go to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts

UPDATE #2: Learned a new shortcut! When on Safari, select a word and press

ctrl + Command + D

and you will get a quick definition show up as a tool tip window.

Feel free to share your tips and shortcuts in the comments below!

Or you can just forget about memorizing altogether.



  1. oli4 · May 20, 2008

    I think everybody knows these:

    Command () + tab = Change application
    Command () + o = open (map or document)
    Command () + [ = previous window
    Command () + ] = next window
    Command () + , = preferences of the application
    Command () + x = cut
    Command () + c = copy
    Command () + v = paste

    in safari:
    Command () + L = focus on address bar

    check also in systempreferences/keyboard & mouse/shortcuts for more

  2. derRon · May 21, 2008

    Command + Shift + N = New Folder
    Command + Delete = Move to Trash

    in Firefox:
    Command + K = google-bar Search

  3. Chris · July 6, 2008

    ctrl+f1/2 don’t work for me… I have the new style layout keyboard.

    • Nunaka · August 20, 2013

      Like I mentioned in another reply, late as this reply is, this is also for people who stumbled here like me.

      Chris, hold the ‘fn’ button as well as the ‘control’ button while using the ‘f*’ keys. It works for me.

  4. Kathryn · September 9, 2008

    My thanks to you (and the others who replied) for posting this material. I’m helping my FIL who is an intelligent, 110% computer-illiterate man who wants email. (I’ll spare you the saga but its been hysterical.) The 2-button scroll mouse was too complicated. Now the one button Apple mouse is too complicated. (Don’t ask…) So now I’m trying NO mouse. He only needs the MOST basic of keyboard shortcuts and you posted those! Just imagine of what I went through before I pitched his old Windows unit and brought him the new Mini! That should keep you laughing for hours:>)

  5. Chuck · January 8, 2009

    Pressing the Option/ Alt Key 5 times turns on your keyboard mouse which allows complete mouse control by using only the keyboard.

    8= navigate mouse up (7&9 to move to top corners)
    u= navigate mouse left
    o= navigate mouse right
    i= mouse click/ highlight text
    k= navigate mouse down (j&l to move to bottom corners)

    * NOTE you cannot type with your keyboard mouse turned on, however simply press the Option/ Alt key again 5 times to switch back to normal keyboard.

  6. mergenchik · February 28, 2011

    cmd + backspace – move to trash
    How about changing buttons in dialogs? for example when I press power button there Sleep, Restart, Cancel and Shutdown buttons. I can press enter or Escape, but can’t use other buttons from keyboard.

  7. Dan · July 7, 2011


    In your keyboard prefs pane, there’s an option to have the Tab key move focus between “text boxes and lists only” or “all controls”. The default setting is, for whatever crazy reason (which I’ll never truly understand), the former.

    Change this to “all controls”, and you’ll be able to use the Tab key in button dialogs, as well as give focus to checkboxes and radio buttons in Safari.

    One thing to note is that in button dialogs (e.g. “Shut down”, etc), the focus outline will move, not the fill colour (which I believe always shows the default action, although I may well be wrong on this).

    The only thing I’ve found I’m unable to do with the keyboard alone is select multiple files in Finder, when the files are not contiguous (something that is very easy to do in Windows Explorer, and is one of only a few things I miss about Windows). If anyone knows how to do this, I’d love to know!

    • Nunaka · August 20, 2013

      I know this is way late, but if any one stumbles on to this page like I did…

      Dan, use Command (as opposed to Shift, which selects first, last, and everything in between) when selecting non-contiguous items. You can select as many as you’d like this way. It also works in word processing contexts. I hope this is what you meant.

      • Dan · August 21, 2013

        Thanks for the reply, Nunaka. I know that you can use Command to select multiple files, but this still involves using the mouse to click on the filenames.

        Take this example: I have 10 files in a folder, labelled 01.txt, 02.txt, … 09.txt, 10.txt, and want to select every odd-numbered file. In Windows, I can ensure the first file is selected, then hold down the Control key and then press the down arrow. When 03.txt is “outlined”, I can press Space to select it. I repeat this process until I have all 5 odd-numbered files selected.

        On the Mac, there is no way to do this operation without using the mouse, as far as I am aware. This is a real shame, as it’s so much quicker to perform operations like that using the keyboard than it is using a mouse or trackpad (I use both extensively, so it’s not that I’m not used to them or anything like that).

  8. Pingback: Forget about memorizing keyboard shortcuts | Pimp My Mac

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