8 Most Useful Mac Shortcuts You Need to Know

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Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in your workday? Well, you’re not alone. According to research, the U.S. is actually one of the most overworked nations in the world.

In many countries across the globe, there is a law that sets a maximum number of hours per workweek for all employees. The U.S. is one of the only countries that does not implement such a law.

With this shocking reality in mind, how can one simplify their workday and use technology to streamline all of their work processes? Here are the most useful Mac shortcuts that could change the game.

The Most Useful Mac Shortcuts When You’re Short on Time

It may not sound like it would make a huge difference in your workday, but simple computer shortcuts can end up saving you precious hours across the span of your work life. They are important tools that can be used to improve your productivity and minimize your daily frustration!

First thing’s first, if you’re new to the Mac keyboard, here are the basics you should know:

  • Command or Cmd
  • Shift or an up-facing arrow
  • Option or Alt
  • Control or Ctrl
  • Fn

These are also known as modifier keys and are essential for all of Mac’s quick shortcuts. Here are a few essential shortcuts that could improve your workflow and eliminate wasted time:

1. Mac Screenshots

When would you need to take a screenshot? There are literally thousands of reasons why this command is good to know. You may need to share a snippet of information with your team. Maybe you want to screenshot shot an image for inspiration, or a sentence as a reminder.

The most important keys for taking a screenshot on Mac are the (command + shift + 5) keys. You can also use the toolbar to help you capture the entire screen, a smaller portion of it, or a specific selection.

In order to capture a screenshot of the entire screen, hold down (command + shift + 3). To capture a selected portion of the screen, hold down (command + shift + 4).

2. The Basic Cut, Copy, and Paste Function

This is hands-down one of the most commonly used commands on both a Mac and Windows operating system. If you aren’t already familiar with this shortcut, you need to select the text or element, first. Then, hold down (command + X) to cut, (command + C) to copy) and (command + V) to paste.

In short, the command key replaces the control key as used in Windows shortcuts. However, a Mac also has a control key, so be sure to not get confused between the two.

3. Minimizing and Closing Programs

The function of closing a program or application on Windows differs from Mac. But, essentially, you need to ”remove” a program or application window from the home screen on Mac.

In order to minimize a program, hold down (control + M) — it minimizes the window, but you can still access it from the dock. If you want to hide a program, hold down (control + H). This is a good shortcut to know if you need to hide a window in a split second. In order to close a program or application completely, hold down (command + W).

4. How to Find Apps, Files, and Documents

If there is one task that is a complete time-eater, it’s trying to find specific files, documents, and apps on your computer. Luckily, Mac has developed a feature known as Spotlight that helps you to find anything you need in a matter of seconds.

In order to access the Spotlight function, hold down (command + spacebar). This should open the Spotlight feature and you can quickly make your search without having to open and close what feels like a hundred different tabs.

5. Adjust Sound and Brightness in Small Increments

All Mac keyboards feature their own specific buttons for adjusting sound and screen brightness. But what if you want to change the volume and also tune it to find the perfect dB? There are a couple of shortcuts for this exact purpose.

If you want to slightly increase volume, hold down (alt + shift + volume up button). If you want to decrease the volume ever so slightly, hold down (alt + shift + volume down button). These shortcuts allow you to adjust the sound in literal increments.

When it comes to screen brightness and display, you can also adjust it in very small amounts with the following shortcuts: (alt + shift + brightness up key). To tone things down, hit the (alt + shift + brightness down key).

6. How to Fully Quit a Program

On the Windows operating system, each program features a red button with a white cross at the top right-hand corner of the screen. This allows you to completely close/quit the program.

On Mac, things are a little different. It won’t quit the app or program unless you use this shortcut (command + Q). Instead, it keeps running in the background.

If you use programs on Mac very often, you may not want to force quit them — this is up to you. And no, it doesn’t slow down your computer if you choose to keep them open in the background!

7. Compose an Email in a Second

In order to avoid having to go into your Gmail account or email app, you can simply hit this basic command and begin composing an email in a matter of seconds.

All you have to do is hold down (command + shift +I). Considering how many emails most working adults send a day, this can truly help to save time.

8. Scour Documents for Spelling Errors

If you’re working on a long and involved document, Mac makes it easy for you to scan and spot typos throughout your writing. This is particularly helpful with lengthy emails, official documents, research projects, dissertations, and more.

In order to highlight any possible errors you’ve made, hold down (command + semicolon [;]).

Manage Your Business, Health, and Lifestyle Like a Pro

While there are literally hundreds of shortcuts you can learn to free up some time throughout your workday, these are some of the most useful Mac shortcuts that can be applied to almost all work tasks.

Learn how to manage your finances, health, and lifestyle by exploring the rest of this site for more. We offer articles on all of the above sectors to help you find the perfect work-life balance so that you’re not just another overworked statistic!

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