Mac Tips: The Ultimate Shortcuts Guide (Mac OS 9)

Over 60 major shortcuts, keyboard commands and tricks! Print this out- you'll save time and work more intuitively. These shortcuts are for MacOS 9 and earlier unless noted.

For Mac OS X, see this Apple list of OS X shortcuts. For Intel Macs, see this list. (In particular, Command-N opens a new OS X finder window, which created a new folder in OS 9.)

Startup shortcuts

Working in the Finder and Applications

Saving files

Dealing with freezes

Hidden functions

Taking pictures of the screen

Changing keyboard layouts


Key Nicknames


power key

Power key

command key

Command, (rarer, incorrect: "Apple Key")

option key

Option, Alt

shift key

Shift

control key

Control, Cntrl

tab key

Tab

escape key

Escape

delete key

Delete, Del, Backspace

return key

Return, Ret

space bar

Spacebar


PC-Mac Keyboard Equivalents

If you are switching to Mac from a PC, most keyboard shortcuts are the same. Just remember these two modifier-key differences:


PC

Mac

control key

command key (aka "Command" or "Apple")

Alt option key

And yes, there is a right-click: just hold down the Mac's control key key and click on just about anything. In fact, few knowledgeable Mac users still use the single-button mouse that comes with the Mac. Most multiple-button mice work fine with Macs and PCs.

Read more, depending on the Mac OS version: OS 9 or OS X.


Mouse Button Combinations

If you have a mouse with more than one button, I suggest programming them to perform these functions:


First button

click

Second button

control key-click (see more about this)

Third button

command key-click

Fourth Button

option key  (usually combined with others)

This way, you can make any combination. For example, to option-command-click, hold down the fourth button and click with the third button. Also see my recommendations on which multiple-button mouse to buy.

Startup shortcuts

There are three stages of startup: (1) boot/selftest, (2) extension loading, and (3) Finder launch. Various events can be triggered at each stage.

Note: A few third-party extensions, such as Conflict Catcher, RAM doubler and MacsBug have their own key combinations. If you use these extensions, only use these commands during the appropriate stage of startup, or a key combination might cause two different functions.

To invoke these functions, hold down these keys during the listed stage of startup:

command key + option key

Rebuilds the Desktop file.

(Use at Finder launch or when removable media is inserted)

shift key

Turns off extensions in the Extensions folder.

(If you wait until after all extensions load, but before the Finder launches, this will stop the launch of items in the "Startup Folder."

command key + option key + P + R

Resets most Control Panel settings stored in Parameter RAM. Useful when this data becomes corrupted. Invoke before boot, and let the Mac restart/chime a few times before letting go.

(AKA "Zapping the PRAM")

command key

Turns off Virtual Memory until next restart.

.

Starts up the computer from a CD.

(But for older Macs, see below)

command key + option key + shift key + delete key

Bypasses the startup disk when starting up. Will try to boot from other drives in a predetermined order.

(This will let you boot from a CD on Older Macs and some clones)

command key + option key + shift key + delete key + SCSI ID number

Bypasses the startup disk when starting up, and boots from specified SCSI ID.

D

Makes new Powerbooks (bronze keyboard, FireWire) boot from internal drive.

Hold down the "T" key

Forces a recent G4 or FireWire PowerBook to start up in FireWire Target Disk Mode, which enables this "Target Mac" to act as a FireWire-accessible hard disk. With the "Host Mac" running, connect to the Target Mac with a 6-pin FireWire cable. Boot the Target Mac while holding down its "T" key, then let go when the FireWire icon appears. The Target Mac's hard drive will show up on the desktop of the Host Mac. To kill this mode, drag the icon to the trash and shut down the Target Mac. Read more here.

Hold down mouse button

Ejects any removable media except CD.

(Floppy, Zip, Syquest, etc)

space bar

Brings up the Extensions Manager before Extensions load.

control key

Before the long startup process, brings up the Location Manager. A "Location" is a global configuration set of many settings: the extensions set, control panel settings, etc.

(Programmers who use the MacsBug debugger should change this to a different key)

option key

(at boot) Brings up the Startup Manager on the new G4-era Macs. In OS X, will produce a volume list, allowing a choice of systems to start from. This is a hardware-based feature, and may not be available on all systems.

option key

If held down before the Finder launches, will close any open windows.

(May disable certain older extensions if held during boot)

Hold down mouse button

Bypass RAM integrity checks during startup. See "Hidden Functions" to set this permanently. These checks can take a long time during Startup on Macs with a lot of RAM. (Although I measured zero difference on my G4/400 with 320 megs RAM.)

command key + option key + control key + power key

Holding for 5-10 seconds before powering up resets the power manager on PowerBook 500, 520, 540, 540c. Use if battery will not recharge after trying the Intelligent Battery Updater. For other PowerBook and iBook models and the full details, see this Apple article.
shift key + Fn (function) + control key + power key Resets the power manager on G3 PowerBooks (M4753 model). For other PowerBook and iBook models and the full details, see this Apple article.
command key + V (OS X only, at boot) Puts system into "verbose" mode, showing the status of the system as all of the drivers and packages load.
command key + S (OS X only, at boot) Puts system into "single-user" mode, launching right into a terminal shell. This should only be used in extreme troubleshooting situations and only if you’re comfortable with shell-level command-line system administration.

For more technical details on the Mac Startup Sequence process, see this Apple article.

Working in the Finder and Applications

These work on files and folders in the Finder, dialog boxes, and in some applications.

control key + Click an icon

Brings up the Contextual Menu (Sys 8 and later). This menu has tons of options, much like the "right click" in Windows. For more on this, see "Control-Click: Your Secret Weapon."

option key + Drag icon

Makes a duplicate copy of the file. Option-Drag to a new folder to copy to a new folder.

command key + option key + Drag icon

Creates an alias of the icon. (Sys 8 and later)

control key + Drag icon

Creates an alias of the icon. (Certain versions of Sys 7)

Letter keys

Selects the file whose name begins with the letters typed.

up or down or left or right

Selects the icon above, below, to the left, or to the right of the selected icon.

tab key

Selects the next icon alphabetically, or advances through text entry fields in an application.

shift key + Click icons

or

command key + Click icons

Selects all of the icons clicked, or a range of items in a list. (OS X: These shortcuts are reversed.)

Drag across icons

Selects all icons in the group.

option key + Double-click icon

Opens the icon and closes its window.

return key

Highlights the name of the selected icon, for editing.

command key + click in empty space of window

Cursor become a "hand," for quick window scrolling.

command key + Drag icon

Cleans up the icon.

command key + delete key

Moves selected icons straight to the Trash.

command key + right

In a list view, expands the contents of the selected folder(s).

(To expand all folders, select all first.)

command key + left

In a list view, collapses the contents of the selected folder(s).

option key + command key + right

or

option key + Click on closed folder's triangle

In a list view, expands the contents of the selected folder(s) AND all sub-folders.

option key + command key + left

or

option key + Click on open folder's triangle

In a list view, collapses the contents of the selected folder(s) AND all sub-folders.

command key + tab key

Cycles through all currently running applications.

option key + Click close box

or

command key + option key + shift key + W

Closes all Finder windows and docked window tabs.

option key + Click collapse box

Collapses all disk and folder windows.

command key + A

Selects all items or text in the current window.

command key + W

Closes an open window, or collapses a pop-up window to its Tab state at the bottom of the screen.

option key + Click zoom box in window's bar

Zooms a window to the full size of the screen.

option key + Switch programs

Hides the windows of the previous program.

command key + Drag window

Moves a window without making it active.

command key + click on the title of the window

Displays a pop-up list, showing the path of folders from the Desktop to the current folder.

command key +

select window in Window Menu
Closes selected window. (The Window Menu is available in the Finder under OS 9.2 or later)
command key + shift key +

select window in Window Menu
Puts away selected pop-up window, or closes regular window. (OS 9.2 or later)
command key + option key +

select window in Window Menu
Expands selection and closes all other windows. (OS 9.2 or later)
control key +

select window in Window Menu
Expands selection and minimizes all other windows. (OS 9.2 or later)
control key + option key +

select window in Window Menu
Makes selection active and expands all open widows. (OS 9.2 or later)
space bar + Drag icon

Hold down the space bar while dragging an icon in the Finder, to bypass the delay before the destination folder "springs" open.

"Spring-loaded Folders" should be enabled in Edit --> Preferences --> General. Dragging an icon over a folder and holding it there for a moment causes the folder to "spring open".

Drag window to bottom edge of screen

"Docks" a window at the bottom of the screen, shrinking it to a tab, which is easily reopened with one click.

tab key

Cycles through data entry fields, table fields or window elements.

Shift + tab key

Cycles backwards through data entry fields, table fields or window elements.

Saving files

These shortcuts work in "Save" dialog boxes.

Letter keys

Selects an item in the active list whose name begins with the letters typed.

up or down

Selects the item above or below the selected item.

tab key

Cycles active selection among window elements.

command key + up

Moves up one level in the file hierarchy.

command key + .

Moves up to the Desktop level.

command key + .

Creates a new folder.

option key + Open alias

Shows the original of the alias (rather than opening it).

Dealing with freezes

power key (aka the power key)

Turns your computer on and off. Your work should be saved before the computer shuts down.

command key + period

Cancels an operation in progress.

command key + option key + escape key

Forces a program to quit. Unsaved work will be lost.

command key + option key + shift key + power key

Restarts or shuts down the computer (on some models). Unsaved work will be lost.

command key + control key + power key

Forces the computer to restart when the pointer is frozen (on some models). Unsaved work will be lost.

command key + control key + option key + power key

Forces the computer to shut down. Unsaved work will be lost.

command key + power key

If MacsBug is installed, brings up a debugger window. Try typing "G Finder" or "G" and hit return.

Hidden functions

command key + option key + open Memory control panel

This adds an extra option to the Memory control panel to disable the "Startup Memory Tests." These RAM integrity checks can take a long time during Startup on Macs with a LOT of RAM. (Although I measured no significant difference on my G4/400 with 320 megs RAM.)

option key + open "about this computer" in Apple menu

Changes menu item to "About the Finder" and will show neato hidden picture. There are many "Easter Eggs" like this in Mac programs, but few are useful, so I'm not listing them here. Try Google.

Taking pictures of the screen

command key + shift key + 3

Creates a picture file of the entire screen.

command key + shift key + 4

Creates a picture file of a rectangular selection of the screen. (After pressing and releasing the key combination, drag across the part of the screen you want to take a picture of.)

command key + shift key + 4 + caps

Creates a picture file of a window. (After pressing and releasing the key combination, click the window you want to take a picture of.)

Note: To copy a rectangle or window to the Clipboard instead of saving it as a file, press the Control key as you select the part of the screen you want.

Changing keyboard layouts and scripts

command key + option key + space bar

Rotates through keyboard layouts. Go to the Keyboard control panel "options" to turn this on. (Also rotates input methods within a script.)

These seem to require that Worldscript is active:

command key + space bar

Switches to default keyboard layout. (Also rotates through enabled WorldScript script systems when in an active script.)

command key + right

Changes the keyboard layout to the current layout of Roman script.

command key + left

Changes the keyboard layout to the current layout of the system script.

Sources: Various Apple Help Guides, TidBITS, much trial-and-error.

Having trouble printing this? Here's few settings to check in your system: (Internet Explorer is my example browser, similar settings exist for Netscape)

Check the preferences under "Web Content" and try toggling "Page Specify Colors" and "Show Style Sheets" (I usually leave these on). When printing, make sure that the "print background" option is turned off in the print dialog box (in the pop-up menu, select "internet explorer" to change these options). And if all else fails, copy-and-paste the whole thing into a word processing or page-layout app. Or, if you have an HTML editor, select your browser's "View Source" mode and copy the code into your HTML editor.

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