3 Mac shortcuts for beginners that will change your life

This is the first of a weekly series to help you get to know your computer better by learning the shortcuts that help you move faster across or within the apps you know and love. It takes practice, but habit forming shortcut usage can add up to days worth of time savings in a year.

At PactSafe, we're all about making business happen faster, and our tips don't just include website legal agreements. What better way to move faster than to get to know your computer better and learn some super handy Mac shortcuts or Macbook shortcuts! We're mostly a Mac shop here, so I thought I'd start by promoting some little known tips to the layman Mac user.

Too many times I watch Mac users not be as efficient as they possibly can be—meaning, they click the mouse too much! The keyboard shortcut is your friend. Whether it's switching between apps, windows, or tabs... our lives are constantly multi-tasking across apps or within our browser and can create a LOT of clicks. Apple has made incredibly easy devices to use, but they've also instilled plenty of shorthand goodies to help you work faster than you thought possible. So let's dive in.

For our first 3 shortcuts, I'm going to focus on Mac shortcuts/Macbook keyboard shortcuts for switching between apps, between windows within an app, and between tabs within your browser (Chrome, in this case).

Mac Shortcut 1: Switching between apps (Command + Tab)

One of the easiest ways to get hooked on Mac shortcuts is to start by learning how to easily navigate between (what can be) dozens of apps open at the same time. Apple has a beautiful screen for switching between apps with some extra goodies to help you out. Most Mac experts are well aware of this (OSX Daily covered this as early as 2009, but for those of you who don't know, they created an awesome graphic with the tip:

My most frequently used Mac shortcut/Macbook shortcut

The article also contains a few extra Mac shortcuts that even the Mac expert may not be aware of (hit these keys after typing Command + Tab and while still holding down Command):

  • ` – move selection to the left
  • h – hide the selected application
  • q – quit the selected application
  • mouse scrollwheel – move the selection back and forth
  • left arrow – move selection to the left
  • right arrow – move selection to the right
  • up arrow – enter expose (Mission Control) within the selected application
  • down arrow – enter expose (Mission Control) within the selected application
  • Handoff(for Macs with OS X Yosemite and above) you can also find available Handoff sessions in the Command+Tab app switcher, these appear on the far left and can be navigated to with the above tricks

Mac Shortcut 2: Hiding an app (Command + H) or minimizing it for later (Command + M)

Everyone is a multi-tasker. So when working with a lot of different apps, it's important to know how to navigate lots of different screens as quickly as possible. To hide your current screen, all you have to do it hit Command + H and the current screen will hide from view. Then you can just use the Application switcher (above) to navigate back to any hidden app.

Command + M will drop your app down in the Dock to save it for later.


Notice my browser in the Dock on the right—just in case I have to send a contract (in another browser tab) to someone... It gives you easy access to it later.

Mac Shortcut 3: Switching tabs within Chrome (Shift + Command + [ or ]) or creating a new tab (Command + T)

I use tabs in my browser to manage my to-do's at times, so I always tend to have a lot open (and I need to open more). One great way to stay productive when you're moving back and forth between a couple of browser tabs is to follow a simple protocol...

  • Put the two or three tabs you're using next to each other in the browser. Like if you're previewing your blog post before it's published... kind of like I am.


  • To navigate between the two tabs, you can hit Shift + Command + ] or Shift + Command + [. Go ahead, try it out. I'll wait.

Want to create a new tab without having to click? Give Command + T a try.

Shortcuts and getting to use your keyboard a little bit better can have a big long-term impact on how you work. It also reduces your frustration in getting small tasks done and enhances the relationship between you and the device you use every day at your job. Use shortcuts! 

Already have an arsenal of shortcuts you want the world to know about? Post about them in the comments and I'll cover it in subsequent week's post. :-)


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