MacMost Now 244: Creating Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Learn how to use the System Preferences Keyboard Shortcuts section to create shortcuts for menu items in any application.

Video Transcript
Gary Rosenzweig: Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode lets learn how to make are own keyboard shortcuts for Mas OS 10 applications.
So Mac OS 10 allows you to go into system preferences and change standard keyboard shortcuts for all sorts of functionality and applications. But, did you know you can also create your own from menu items that didn't have shortcuts before. Lets take a look. So here we are in system preferences and we are going to go to the keyboard and mouse preferences and in there, there's four different tabs we're going to go to the last one which is keyboard shortcuts. And you'll notice in here that there are all sorts of keyboard shortcuts that you can customize. But, we're not going to look at those right now. What we're going to do is look at the additional ones at the bottom. Application keyboard shortcuts. If we look in there we will see that a default we've got nothing. But, we can add them by pressing the plus button right here. Now, all we have to do then is pick the application that we want to set a keyboard shortcut for. Type in the exact name of the menu that we want to create a shortcut for, and give it a keyboard shortcut. So, here's text edit. Now, in text edit in the edit menu under speech is a start speaking menu item. But there's no keyboard shortcut for it. We can go ahead and create one by switching to the assistance properties where were before. We have text edit selected as the application. We're going to type in the name of the menu item exactly so it will start speaking. And we're going to give it a keyboard shortcut lets do command option shift and s. Click add, we will see it added here under application keyboard shortcuts text edit start speaking now if we switch back to text edit and we go to edit menu and speech we will see that it's there as a shortcut and sure enough we can go and use it and it will work.
Computer: Quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Gary: Now this works for any application. Go ahead and go through the entire list it includes Macintosh application as well as third party ones.So you can choose just about anything you want and add the menu item. Now one big catch here is that you can only choose a unique name as a menu item so when sometime when multiple menu items have the same name for instance in mail you can move to a folder and copy to a folder and if you tried to assign a keyboard shortcut to the name of that folder it will appear in a copy to sub menu not the move to one. So you really can't use it for anything and you also can't use it for the name of windows and certain other things like that and that is can't conflict with over shortcuts either. You can even use it to add keyboard shortcuts to the finder all you need to do is press the plus button again choose as your app finder dot app and then type the menu item like show clipboard which doesn't have a keyboard shortcut and I am going to assign shift option command c add it now if I shift to the finder I will see that show clipboard as that keyboard shortcut I'll go ahead and execute it on the keyboard and there is the clipboard
So next you are in one of you next applications and you try to use a menu item that doesn't have a keyboard shortcut consider adding one using system preferences and this will speed things up every time you need to use that menu item Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 30 Responses to “MacMost Now 244: Creating Custom Keyboard Shortcuts”

    5/24/09 @ 7:35 pm

    This was great, I already use your tip on making a keyboard shortcut to “Mac
    Speech,” from your Mac Answers podcast. :-)

    Julie Baltins
    5/28/09 @ 2:47 pm

    i can’t get this to work i called my apple tec & still can’t help gary ???i went over this time & time again i have a 20” Mac all up dates are good also any thoughts? on something i should do ?

      5/28/09 @ 4:31 pm

      Which part, specifically, is not working? If you follow the steps in the video, at what point do you see something different happen?

    Matt Matson
    10/14/09 @ 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the tip!
    However, I was wondering if there is a way to make a shortcut for a particular action within a program. For example, there is a short cut for “Special Characters…” in text/, but I would like to create a shortcut for particular characters that I use often (e.g., the em-dash, the paragraph, and the section symbol).
    Any advice?

    9/20/10 @ 4:17 pm

    Great ! Now I reboot in a snapshot with my custom ctrl+shift+cmd+R shortcut !
    I really enjoy your vids, keep the good work. Cheers from a french guy in Madrid =)

    Anne Layzer
    4/23/11 @ 12:25 am

    Many of the keyboard shortcuts that are in System Preference don’t work for me, including the send command in Mail, the sleep command systemwide, Google Search in Safari.

      4/23/11 @ 8:52 am

      Are you sure you have assigned a key and turned them on (checkmark). Most of them have no keys assigned and some are turned off. Then, make sure you are in the right application to use them.

    9/2/11 @ 1:11 pm

    I have OS Lion and I would like to be able to delete files (from finder and/or desktop) using my keyboard. The delete key doesn’t work, and either does command+delete. So I tried to create my own shortcut using command+delete, but it won’t let me use the delete key in a shortcut. Any suggestions?

      9/2/11 @ 1:16 pm

      Command+Delete should work. That is the default. If you go to the Finder menu, and look for “Move to Trash” you should see it as Command+Delete.
      Are you using the right Delete key? Some keyboards have two: a regular delete key two rows above the return key and to the right of the = key, plus a “forward delete” key above the arrows. Make sure you use the one near =. Some older keyboards may call it “backspace.”

    Vicki B.
    11/5/11 @ 9:10 am

    I printed out your list of shortcuts, but it seems like the Apple Web site has even more than that. There was at least 3 pages of them.
    The guy who helps me with my computer found them for me, so now I have two lists.

      11/5/11 @ 9:53 am

      Right. I compiled a list of what I considered the most useful on a single page. Since you can create your own, and third-party apps add even more, the list can go on almost forever.

    Kathy Cunningham
    11/30/11 @ 6:18 am

    Thanks so much for your video and detailed explanation. What a time saver… this is extremely helpful!!!

    3/16/12 @ 12:09 am


    3/21/12 @ 4:11 am

    Hey there- I am trying to create a keyboard shortcut to close a message that is open in mail. In windows if i hit the escape key the message closes- i tried to set this up with a command key and a few different options and no luck- any suggestions? thanks Jamie

      3/21/12 @ 6:36 am

      What do you mean by “closes?” If you have it open in a window, then command+W closes your current window. Or do you mean something else, like archiving the message? That’s Message, Archive. So just assign a shortcut to “Archive.”

    4/25/12 @ 11:07 pm

    I’m trying to create a shortcut to “Arrange>Align Objects>Center” in iWeb, but it keeps creating the shortcut under “Format>Text>Center”. Is there any way around this? It’s driving me crazy having to use the drop down menu every time I want to Align objects. Thanks in advance.


      4/26/12 @ 6:54 am

      That’s a problem if the menu has two menu items with the exact same name. No way to do it that I know of.

    6/19/12 @ 10:09 am

    Hey Gary, is there a way to create a shortcut for opening “Pictures” in Finder on OS Lion?

      6/19/12 @ 10:34 am

      Why not just put it in your Dock? Or an alias on your Desktop?

    6/19/12 @ 10:42 am

    I mean the actual “Pictures” menu. I use it so frequently that it would be nice to have a keyboard shortcut. Tried dragging the Pictures menu to the dock but didn’t work.

      6/19/12 @ 10:47 am

      Pictures MENU? Not sure what you mean by that. I thought you meant the Pictures folder. There is no Pictures menu in the Finder. Perhaps you mean something else? Or, perhaps you really do you mean the Pictures folder (in your user folder). Or, maybe you mean the Pictures item you may have in the Finder window sidebar?

    6/19/12 @ 10:54 am

    Sorry Gary. Ultimately, I want the fastest access to my list of folders in my Pictures folder.

      6/19/12 @ 11:03 am

      Then I would drag that folder (right from your user folder) to the right side of the Dock. That’s exactly what it is meant for.

    6/19/12 @ 12:08 pm

    Ok. Never done that before, thanks. Am I able to change the view from icons to list from this location?

    7/14/12 @ 5:26 pm

    I have searched (on and off) for years on a shortcut for inserting comments into a Numbers cell. Thanks to you, I just created my own, plus a shortcut for hiding it. This will save me IMMENSE amounts of time. Thank you, thank you.

    Mr cassenoisette
    8/8/12 @ 2:14 am

    In mountain lion I wanted to create a shortcut for ”Show All tabs” in safari. So I went in System Preferences, keyboard, application shortcut, took safari in the list and created my own shortcut. ”Ctrl ⇧ S” for instance. Does not work .. Am i missing something ? Or is there already a shortcut for it ?

      8/8/12 @ 7:43 am

      There is already a shortcut for that. I see it as Shift+Command+\

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    10/8/12 @ 12:20 pm

    I have never used keyboard short cuts apart from Photoshop. When i am on the internet i can take a full screen shot or select the part you want you want. I can`t see the point of a shortcut unless you have to type in a lot of numbers using the Command,Alt,Ctrl,and Options,then i would agree.When this guy was learning me the system i asked when he clicked a shortcut. He said it`s up to you if you want. This guy was that clever he could operate Photoshop by just using the Keyboard alone,and never touch the mouse.

Comments Closed.