Read Me First: A Take Control Crash Course
by Tonya Engst

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Table of Contents

Keyboard Shortcuts on the Mac

You’ve probably read about the virtues of keyboard shortcuts—instead of choosing an item from a menu, you just press a few keys. You’ll find these keyboard shortcuts all over the place in tech writing. They also appear on most Mac menus, on the right side. Some of the symbols used in them can be cryptic, however, so let’s take a look.

As an example of a keyboard shortcut, take Command-Comma, which generally opens an app’s Preferences window . To open this window from the keyboard, press and hold down the Command key, then press the Comma.

① 	The **⌘**, at the right of the Preferences menu item (red oval) indicate that you can press Command-Comma (also written as **⌘**-, or Command-,) to open the Finder’s Preferences window without touching your pointing device.

① The , at the right of the Preferences menu item (red oval) indicate that you can press Command-Comma (also written as -, or Command-,) to open the Finder’s Preferences window without touching your pointing device.

Common Symbols

Command

^ Control

Delete

Enter/Return

Option

Shift

Tab

Finding the Keys

You know that the ⌘ means Command and ^ means Control, but where are these keys? In the alphabetical list of keys below, I’ve rounded up a few important keys that are either harder to find or for which I want to share a tip.

Note: These instructions assume a U.S. keyboard. Many other keyboards work more or less the same way, but your mileage—er, kilometerage—may vary.

Tip: A small triangle at the right of a menu item doesn’t signal a keyboard shortcut; instead it signals a submenu—when you hover over that item, another menu pops out to the right, in the direction the triangle is pointing.

② 	The four arrow keys, found at the lower right of many keyboards, are marked with pointing triangles.

② The four arrow keys, found at the lower right of many keyboards, are marked with pointing triangles.

④ 	Find your fn key and press it twice (red oval), and you can start dictating to your Mac!

④ Find your fn key and press it twice (red oval), and you can start dictating to your Mac!

Tip: To become expert at operating your function keys, read Apple’s support article about the function keys.

⑤ 	To cycle through tabs in a Finder window, press the keyboard shortcuts shown in the Finder’s Window menu (red oval).

⑤ To cycle through tabs in a Finder window, press the keyboard shortcuts shown in the Finder’s Window menu (red oval).

Note: For a great deal more about Mac keyboard shortcuts, read Apple’s OS X Keyboard shortcuts article.

Dragging with a Key Pressed

In certain cases, the Command and Option keys modify how dragging works.

For example, in the Finder, to copy a file while moving it to a different folder, press and hold the Option key while you drag the file’s icon to the folder. Release the key after you drop the file. The original stays put, but a copy appears where you dropped the icon. This technique is often described as an “Option-drag.”

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“To close nearly any dialog without saving changes, press Escape or Command-Period—it’s the same as clicking Cancel.”

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