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The first time I had to use a Mac I was 20, that was at a research institute and, of course, no one explained me how to use it. Since then I met many people in academia that also didn’t really know how to use a Mac…

Here some easy to use keyboard shortcuts that can make your interaction with your Mac just so smooth and enjoyable. We get enough frustration from our research projects and academia, let’s try to enjoy the tool that we use the most. If not a Mac, just Google for the tool that is the most relevant to you. For me this fall in productive procrastination :)

Click here for an all-in-1-page pdf version to print. If you’re not familiar with keyboard shortcuts, having a printed reminder to stick on your office wall will help you to learn one shortcut at a time.

  • Before starting:
cmd = ⌘ = command

alt = ⌥

ctrl = control

shift = capital letter keystroke ⇧


  • The ones I hope you already know:
cmd + C copy
cmd + V paste
cmd + S save
cmd + X cut
cmd + P print
  • The essential to advance ones:
cmd + H hide
cmd + W close
ctrl + shift + power lock and put your display to sleep (2 fingers on lower left corner of your keyboard and 1 finger on upper right corner)
cmd + A select all (all text, all files…)
cmd + N new (new doc in Word, new email in Mail, etc…)
cmd + Q quit
cmd + shift + Q Force quit
cmd + Z undo
cmd + F to search, in your computer (to find a file) or in an app
cmd + T open a new tab in your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox…) or in your Finder
cmd + shift + T reopen the last tab you closed in your web browser
cmd + L Select the URL address bar in your web browser to allow for easy copy or to quickly start a new search
cmd + shift + 3 screenshot
cmd + shift + 4 custom screenshot (selected area)
cmd + M minimize
cmd + delete ⌫ or ← Move to trash (delete)
cmd + + or – To zoom in (+) or out (-)
cmd + space bar search in your computer (spotlight search)
cmd + tab keystroke ⇥ to switch between the apps that are opened on your computer, the last app you’ve looked at will be on left (can be combined with cmd + Q to quit or cmd + H to hide)
cmd + alt + H hide all other windows than the one you are currently looking at
cmd + , open the preferences menu
  • Another very important one:
ctrl + cmd + space bar open the emoji menu :D


Also you may have noticed that pressing the space bar over a file (picture, pdf, Word doc etc…) or a folder will give you a quick preview.

One more thing that I love and that people find very confusing when they try to show me something on my computer: hot corners. If activated, their action will be triggered when you bring your mouse cursor all the way in one corner of your screen. For example, you could have one corner to clear out all opened windows allowing you to quickly go back to your desktop. To customize these corners, go to your Mac System Preferences > Mission Control > on the lower left there is a “Hot Corners…” button.

To look for more keyboard shortcuts you can search “mac cheat sheet” in Google Images. Also check out the support Apple website, there is just so much more convenient tricks to use!

Looking for more #tech tips? Here I provide easy-to-implement solutions to protect your eyes from screens’ light and to reduce eyes strain.

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