Mac Keyboard Symbols and Shortcuts complete reference

While switching from Windows to Mac, we being a Mac beginner always wonder what are these symbols: ⇧, ⌥, ⌃ etc. that are showing up in Keyboard shortcuts. For example, In the screenshot below, we have keyboard shortcuts of chrome browser. So, in order to learn the keyboard shortcuts you must consider getting familiar with the keyboard symbols first and then master the keyboard shortcuts to do cool things in Mac (we will cover that part later in this post after symbols topic).
Keyboard symbols mac

 Mac Keyboard symbols and their corresponding keys

Caps lock
Esc (referred as Escape)
Eject (Top rightmost corner button, that you use to wake up Mac)
Delete, Backspace
Forward Delete (fn + delete)
Up arrow
Down arrow
Right arrow
Left arrow
Home (fn + )
End (fn + )
Page Up (fn + )
Page Down (fn + )
Tab, Tab Right
Tab Left (shift + tab)

Now that we have learned Mac Symbols, you can easily understand the keyboard shortcut by reading it in symbols. For example, clear chrome browser history shortcut shows these symbols ⇧⌘⌫ that means the keyboard shortcut for this is: shift command delete. You have to press these three keys together to perform this action.

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts in Mac OS X

Now that we have learned Mac Symbols. Lets see some useful keyboard shortcuts –

Keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshot

  1. command + shift + 3 Capture full screen and save as a .png file on desktop
  2. command + ctrl + shift + 3 Copy full screen to the clipboard so you can paste it anywhere you like.
  3. command + shift + 4 The pointer changes to crosshair, select the area, only selected area would be captured as a .png file on desktop.
  4. command + ctrl + shift + 4 Same as above but it would copy the selected area as an image to the clipboard
  5. command + shift + 4 then press space, the pointer would change to a camera. hover the camera over a window and click on it to get the it captured as an image
  6. command + ctrl + shift + 4 same as above but it would copy it to clipboard

Hit esc while capturing the screenshot to cancel it.

Suggestion during typing

While typing press F5 to get the word suggestions for what you are typing.

Useful Finder shortcuts

  1. When inside Finder, hitting space would launch item info for the selected item.
  2. command + option + S To show/hide sidebar in Finder
  3. command + control + T To add the selected folder to the Finder sidebar
  4. command + I Get info panel for the selected item.

Spotlight search shortcuts

  1. command + space brings the spotlight search and same combination closes it out, alternatively you can press esc twice to exit spotlight.
  2. esc clears the spotlight search.
  3. command + b opens up a browser tab and searches the text you typed in spotlight search filed in the web. This obviously won’t work if you have typed nothing in spotlight.

Program Preferences shortcuts

  1. command + , Opens up the preferences of the current main program on your Mac.
  2. option + F1 or F2 Opens up brightness preferences
  3. option + F5 or F6 Opens up keyboard brightness preferences
  4. option + F11 or F12 Opens up volume preferences

Note: You do not need to remember the functional keys, you need for what purpose they are used for? For e.g. F1 and F2 keys handle system brightness so pressing them along with option key brings out the brightness preferences.

Chrome shortcuts

  1. delete Go back to previous page
  2. command + R Reloads current webpage
  3. command + F Opens search bar in chrome
  4. command + D Bookmark the current webpage
  5. command + , Opens chrome setting/preference page
  6. command + N Opens new chrome window
  7. command + T Opens new chrome tab
  8. command + W close current chrome tab

Preview app shortcuts

  1. command + + Zoom in
  2. command + Zoom out
  3. command + 9 Zoom to fit the window
  4. command + 0 Zoom to actual size of image

Open/Save dialog shortcuts

  1. command + D Opens the desktop folder.
  2. command + shift + > show/hide hidden files in the dialog