Power-up keyboard shortcuts
Speed up working on your Mac by learning and creating keyboard shortcuts
When the original Mac operating system arrived, the use of windows, icons, menus and a pointer – sometimes referred to as a WIMP system – freed people from having to memorise and deal with arcane command-line instructions. To open a document, you wouldn’t have to remember and type in its path – you’d just double-click its containing folder and then the file itself.
In that respect, WIMP systems haven’t changed much, and OS X – Mac OS’s modern-day successor – remains similarly intuitive. However, it can be slow if you rely solely on the mouse to access and confirm every command. This is why keyboard shortcuts to many tasks existed in the Mac’s operating system from the start, and the most popular are probably burned deep into your muscle memory. For example, you may instinctively head to ç+Z for undo or ç+C for copy.
Even beyond such well-known examples, it’s almost always faster to press some keys – especially when you’re already typing – than grab the mouse or use a trackpad to go hunting through menus. However, learning shortcuts can take time and be burdensome; it’s also frustrating when shortcuts don’t feel memorable, or if an often-used command doesn’t actually have a shortcut. Fortunately, all of these things can easily be dealt with.
When it comes to learning shortcuts, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to commit every one to memory just by glancing at open menus once or twice, but apps can aid you. EVE (hotkey-eve.com, shareware/£2.50 to register) gives you a notification every time you use a menu command that has a keyboard shortcut, urging you to remember it in the future. CheatSheet (cheatsheetapp.com/ CheatSheet, free) will bring up all of the current app’s shortcuts if you hold ç for a second or so. (Use its preferences to adjust the delay.) KeyCue (ergonis. com/products/keycue, €19.99) works similarly to CheatSheet but has extra
It’s usually faster to press two keys than grab the mouse or use a trackpad to find and click the menus
features, such as a search and access to ‘hidden’ shortcuts.
All these apps require permissions to be granted in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy, if you’re using OS X Mavericks; select Accessibility from the left-hand pane, unlock the padlock with your username/ password, and check the relevant apps to allow them to control your Mac.
Sticking with System Preferences, Keyboard > Shortcuts can be used to adjust existing shortcuts or to create new ones. Select a category from the left-hand pane and double-click on a shortcut (or ‘none’) to start editing.
If the chosen shortcut clashes with an existing one, the pane should alert you with warning icons. At that point, make sure you make the shortcuts distinct, or one will fail.
To create an entirely new shortcut, select App Shortcuts, then click the + button. Choose an application, type the exact name of the command (including capitals or an ellipsis), click inside the Keyboard Shortcut field, and type your shortcut. Take care to not use an existing shortcut (or your new one will disable it). If you want a shortcut to work across several apps that have the same menu item (such as ‘Bring All to Front’), or for system-wide menus such as the Apple menu and Services, choose ‘All Applications’ from the Applications menu. For example, you could use ‘All Applications’, ‘System Preferences…’ and ç+å+, to launch System Preferences at any point.
It’s also possible to create keyboard shortcuts to launch any app or file, and to trigger any shortcuts using trackpad gestures instead of keys combinations. This functionality is enabled using BetterTouchTool (boastr.net, free) and is the subject of our walkthrough. Craig Grannell
CheatSheet gives you a pop-up list of an app’s keyboard shortcuts – great for jogging your memory!
In the main window you can see newly added shortcuts. In the top-right corner: EVE, ‘training’ the user!