How to Be a Keyboard Ninja on Mac OSX Leopard

Mac Keyboard Image from:

Some colleagues of mine, asked me to pass on to The Interwebs - my grand knowledge of getting around on Leapard - via the keyboard. How did I learn all these on my own? Experimentation, firstly, and secondly working at the Apple Retail Store as a Mac Specialist/Trainer certainly helped.

So let's dive right in...

These are the default keyboard shortcuts that are in Mac OSX Leopard, unless noted otherwise. To change these, find a keyboard shortcut you forgot, or make your own, you can go to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts

Some Oddballs

Grab image from site quickly

  1. Click and hold an image on a website you want
  2. While still holding, hit F11 (show desktop)
  3. Release mouse button to drop the image immediately on your desktop

Note: This technique also works by dragging an album art image from a webpage right into the album art field in iTunes!


  • Command + M Minimize the current app window to the dock
  • Hold Command and Press Pill button in upper right hand corner of any finder window As you press this, you will cycle through different "setups" of the Finder toolbar (this changes all Finder windows)
  • Command + H Hide current application (still shows up when you click on it in the dock, or Command + Tab to it)
  • Option + Command + H Hide all others except active application

Help in any App!

Not sure where to find a menu item in a particular application? Try this:

  1. Click Help menu item at the top of the screen
  2. Start typing a search term
  3. Use the arrow key to navigate down your results, and see the items that are in the app, open and get pointed to by a wavering blue arrow (I'm not kidding! Try it.)

Dialog Boxes

When you're on a dialog box for just about any application, you can press Command + (first letter of button), to press that button without using the mouse. For instance, if you closed a document without saving, it would ask you if you wanted to:

  • Command + D Don't Save
  • Command + C (Or Escape works here too) Cancel
  • Command + S Save

But remember, it works for whatever the button is, not just the examples shown above, simply press the first letter of the button along with the Command key.


  • Command + Spacebar Opens the search bar in the upper right hand corner of your screen, so you may begin typing your search term

Once you've typed a search, and results start showing you can press Command to go to the first item. In addition, you can press Command + Down Arrow, to go to the top item in each category. Simply press return to open that item.

  • Command + Option + Spacebar To open a Finder window in "search mode", simply begin typing, or you can press this after you have started typing a search in the Spotlight bar, to open a window with that search term already placed in the Finder window.


Probably my most favorite feature on Leopard. From Apple's site, the description reads, "Organize your activities into separate spaces and easily switch from one to another." This has been around awhile in the Linux/Unix world, and finally, they've built it into OSX.

First and foremost (in my opinion), you should go to System Preferences > Spaces, and check the checkbox at the bottom that says "When switching to an application, switch to a space with open windows for the application". It's a little long winded but basically what that means is that by checking it, it will allow you to have each Space assigned to a task, not just an application. So, basically multiple windows of one application will not "know" about other windows of the same application if they're in other Spaces. Therefore, when switching between windows within an application, it will only do so within that Space.

You can have up to 16 Spaces!

You can assign applications to certain spaces by going to System Preferences > Spaces. Click the plus button and select an application from the drop down menu. Once you've chosen an application, you can then click next to it, to choose a particular Space, or assign it to all Spaces.

Spaces is not enabled by default. To enable it, do the following:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Spaces
  2. Check the checkbox labeled "Enable Spaces"

You can also choose to check "Show Spaces in Menu Bar", which will give you a visual cue while your in Space,
as to which particular Space it is (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).

I prefer to do this, so that I can have quicker access to Expose and Spaces:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard
  2. Check "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys
    When this option is selected, press the Fn key to
    use the special features printed on each key"

So instead of pressing Fn + F8, I can now just press F8 to activate Spaces.

To navigate to another space (can be changed in System Preferences > Spaces):

  • Control + Arrow Key (in the direction of the space you want to switch to)
  • Control + 1 (the number of the space) Switch directly to a space

You can move windows to different Spaces by doing any of the following:

  1. Hit F8, and then use your mouse to drag and drop your window into the Space you want
  2. Click and hold a window, then hit the keyboard shortcut to go to another Space to have the window move with you to that Space
  3. Drag a window with your mouse to the edge of the screen, in the direction of the space you want to move it to, and hold it there for a tick. You will be switched to that Space with window in hand.

What the different keys look like on your keyboard:

  • Apple or Command Key:
  • Alt or Option Key:
  • Shift Key:
  • Enter:
  • Control:
  • Tab:
  • Tilde: ~ `
  • Function key: fn (on new mac keyboards and portables; since Leopard came out)

Application Switching

  • Command-` Cycle through windows in application or Finder (if more than one window is open)
  • Command-Tab Switch application
    • Command + Tab then Command + ` Cycles through open applications, but goes the other direction (so if you Command + Tab to an app, but pass it up, this will let you go back)


  • F8 View all spaces at once
  • C Collect all windows in the current space (hit C again to return them to their individual spaces)
  • F8 then F9 View all spaces then view all windows in spaces with Expose


  • F9 View all open application windows (if Spaces is enabled, it only does it in the current Space)
  • F10 Show all windows of the active application
  • F11 Show the desktop by sliding the windows away (F11 again to return them)


Basic commands for file manipulation in the Finder:

  • Command + W Close Finder window
  • Shift + Option + N Create a new folder
  • Command-Up Arrow Move up one directory
  • Command-Down Arrow Move down one directory
  • Option-Drag Copy to new location
  • Option-Command-Drag Make alias in new location
  • Command-Drag Move to new location without copying

Using the Trash:

  • Shift + Delete Move highlighted item immediately to the trash
  • Shift + Command + Delete Empty the trash
  • Option + Shift + Command + Delete Empty the trash even if items in the trash are being used or are locked

With a Finder window open you can switch between the four views:

  • Control + 1 Icon view
  • Control + 2 Details view
  • Control + 3 Pane view
  • Control + 4 Coverflow view

When you there is an active application, you can:

  • Command + Q Quit active application
  • Command + Comma See the application preferences for the active applications

Here's how you can close lots of applications quickly:

  • Hold Command, then Press Q and Tab one after another until the only thing left is the Finder

Quickview in Finder

When an item is selected in the Finder:

  • Spacebar Shows you a preview of actual item contents (if it can, note that note all filetypes are supported)
  • Spacebar Again Leaves Quickview (Escape works here too)

While still in Quickview on that item in that Finder window, hit the arrow keys to navigate to other items without leaving Quickview

Click on the arrows in Quickview to see the item fullscreen.

Instant Slideshow of Items

  1. Open a finder window (preferably one with photos or videos, but it could be anything really)
  2. Press Command + A to select all items in the window
  3. Hold the Option key, and press the Quickview button in that finder window (it's the button that looked like an Eye, then turned into a play button when you pressed Option)
  4. Watch magic unfurl!

While in this slideshow mode, you can move your mouse, and see controls pop up. From left to right they are:

  1. Move to previous item
  2. Pause/Play slideshow
  3. Move to next item
  4. Show thumbnails overview of all items (from here you can click on any item to go back to fullscreen slideshow on that item)
  5. Exit Full Screen
  6. Close slideshow (good ole' Escape works here too)


  • Command-Shift-3 Take a picture of the screen
  • Command-Shift-4 Take a picture of the selection
  • Command-Shift-4, then press Control while selecting Take a picture of the screen, place in Clipboard
  • Command-Shift-4, then Spacebar Take a picture of the selected window (Hover over the window you'd like to take a picture of, the the cursor that is now a camera, and then click with the mouse)

Sleep, Shutdown, Force Quit

  • Option-Command-esc Force Quit
  • Control-Eject Restart, Sleep, Shutdown dialog box
  • Control-Command-Eject Quit all applications and restart
  • Option-Command-Eject Sleep
  • Option-Command-Power Sleep

Setting Up Even More Keyboard Access!

  1. Go to System Preferences > Universal Access
  2. Check the "Enable access for assistive devices" checkbox

Makes these available:

  • Control-F1 Turn on Full Keyboard Access
  • Control-F2 Highlight Menu
  • Control-F3 Highlight Dock
    • when you're on the dock you can use the left and right arrow keys to navigate over your dock items, and the up arrow will bring up a menu on that particular item
  • Control-F4 Highlight Window (active) or next window behind it
  • Control-F5 Highlight Toolbar
  • Control-F6 Highlight Utility window (palette)

And as a bonus, it does the following:

Well basically it allows you to tab through form fields in your browser of choice, including drop-down-menus, yipee! Although when I showed this to my colleagues recently I noticed it's not working in Firefox 3 (but it does work in Firefox 2). I have asked the Mozilla team why this might be the case, and I'm awaiting their reply.

And I answered my own question:

  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Under "Full Keyboard Access", select the "All Controls" option

Now it will let me tab to drop-down-menus in Firefox 3.

See a comprehensive list here:

I hope that brings light some of the many keyboard auto-magic-ry that can be accomplished on Leopard.