Friday, March 13, 2009

Recommended Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Mac OS X

It all started by listening to the Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts episode of the Apple Quick Tips podcast. In Mac OS X, you can do all sorts of keyboard customization, assigning hot keys to any menus you see, with a built-in System Preference panel. I have been using OS X for over 5 years now, and it was only since Feb 2, 2009 that I actually started using this powerhouse feature. I know there are power OS X users out there that, like me, didn't know what you could do with this funtionality, because they have whined on Twitter that something should have a keyboard shortcut. But you can do that yourself!

This is where you start

Click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab:

You can start adding your own shortcuts now by clicking the + button, but let me show you the ones I recommend:

ApplicationMenu TitleShortcut 
All ApplicationsSystem Prefernces...CMD-SHIFT-,⇧⌘,
SafariMerge All WindowsCMD-SHIFT-M⇧⌘M
Microsoft WordSave As...CMD-SHIFT-S⇧⌘S
Microsoft ExcelSave As...CMD-SHIFT-S⇧⌘S
PreviewAdjust Size...CMD-OPTION-T⌥⌘T

Notes On Creating Your Own

  • Custom Keyboard Shortcuts only work on menu titles.
  • The menu titles you enter in system preferences have to match exactly what is in the menu, including the ... on Save As... for example.

Fixing A Bad Default Finder Shortcut
There is one default shortcut choice in OS X that I find either a poor choice or just outright bad design. In the system wide Save dialog box, ⌘D goes to the Desktop. This is great for quickly saving something. The catch is that in the Finder, ⌘D doesn't bring you to the Desktop, it Duplicates whatever is selected. By default, to get to the Desktop in the Finder, you type ⇧⌘D. I can't stand this mismatch in keyboard shortcuts, and now I know how to change it. There is a catch though. The Finder does not appear to be an application that the Keyboard & Mouse System Preference wants you to find. This is how you can.

  1. After clicking +, scroll to the bottom of the Applications list and pick Other...
  2. Navigate to Macintosh HD/System/Library/CoreServices/ (or whatever you have named the main hard drive)
  3. Double-click on Finder
  4. For the Duplicate menu title type ⇧⌘D and click Add.
  5. Click + again, then for the Desktop menu title type ⌘D and click Add.

Now you should have the Finder configured to match the Save dialog, and your Finder keyboard shortcuts should look like this: