Selecting Multiple Items on a Mac

A key skill every Mac user should master is how to select multiple items. In icon-based situations like the Finder or Keynote, you can drag a rectangle around items. In icon and list-based situations you can select multiple items using the Command and Shift keys.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Selecting Multiple Items on a Mac.

It seems like one of the most asked questions on the internet about Macs is how do you select multiple items. So let's take a quick look at that.

I'm going to start off here with an example in the Finder. So I have a Finder window open. This could easily be files on the desktop as well. I've got it open to icon view. Say I want to select multiple files here.

So I can do that by clicking outside of these. If I click on one I get one. If I click on another it just changes the selection to that. But if I click outside I can click, hold down, and drag and a box is created. Anything that's underneath that box gets selected. So I can select multiple files this way. You can see I selected all those by doing that. If I click outside of it it deselects everything. I can do it again. Click, drag, and select multiples.

But I could also use modifier keys. Notably the Command key and the Shift key to do this. So, for instance, if I were to select one file, let me just click on it. If I want to select another one you can see it deselects this one. But instead if I hold the Command key down and select, now I have both. And I can select another one and another one and another one. If I click on one that's already selected it deselects it. So I can change my selection very easily with the Command key.

Now in icon view the Shift key works the same way. If I click one, then Shift and click another, and another, and another then it works the same as the Command key.

But not in other views. If I view in a list then Command and Shift work differently. I can click on one, then Command click on another, and Command click on another. But if I click on one and then Shift click on this it will select the entire range. So in kind of a list situation Shift will select a range while Command will select or deselect individual files.

Now let's look at another app. Say Mail for instance. Here I see three messages listed here. I can click one at a time or if I click one and I hold the Command key down I can click a second one and then it selects them both. If I were to click one and then Shift click it selects the range of them. I can use Command key also to deselect. So Command and Shift work consistently between Finder and Mail.

Now here's another app you might want to select multiple things in. This is in Keynote. I have several items on this sample slide here. It works the same way. I can click to select single items. If I Command click it will add an item or remove an item from the selection. If I Shift click in this case it works just like icons. It's the same as Command key. I can add or remove items. Also I can click outside of any item here and drag a box around them to select multiple ones. Then I can further modify it by Command clicking to deselect.

One final example here in Calendar. I can see several events on the screen here. I can use Command to select multiple items or deselect one. The Shift key works the same way here.