Switched from Windows? The Best Mac Shortcuts, Tips and Tricks For New Users

Did you know that in the last quarter of 2019, Apple shipped a total of 4.7 million Macs? Or that today, Apple’s OS X operating system has become the second-most used OS in the United States?

All those stats prove that Apple is one of the strongest computer brands out there. Especially in North America, which is home to over 14% of all Mac users worldwide.

If you’re a new Mac user who just switched from Windows, you’re likely having a bit of a problem with shortcut keys.

Don’t worry though, as we’ve rounded up the best Mac shortcuts that you should start memorizing now. Use this guide to eliminate the cobwebs of confusion you have on Mac keys and functions!

Spotlight Search

You can think of your Mac’s Spotlight Search as its built-in Google search tool. Whatever you want to know, just type it in the Spotlight search bar, and it’ll do the searching for you. If you’re looking for a document or a photo, simply type the file name in the Spotlight search bar.

You can also use Spotlight to run most applications and to open System Preferences. You can even use it as a mini-calculator to add, subtract, multiply, or divide.

That said, the best way to launch Spotlight is to press the MacBook Command button plus the Spacebar. Another way to bring it up is to click the magnifying glass icon at the upper-right hand corner of your screen.


There are three awesome screenshot shortcuts for Mac, four if you have a Mac with a Touch Bar.

For full-screen captures, press and hold down Command, Shift, and 3. Most Macs automatically save these screenshots on the desktop.

If you only need to screenshot a specific section of your screen, press Command, Shift, and 4. This keyboard shortcut will transform your cursor into a crosshair. Click and drag the crosshair cursor over the area you want to take a screenshot of.

To access all your screenshot options, the Mac key shortcut you need to memorize is Command + Shift + 5. This brings up the “snipping tool” version of Mac.

With this, you can choose to take full-screen grabs or screenshot only the selected window. It also gives you an option to capture a selected area of the screen. Best of all, it lets you record videos, be it full-screen or selected areas of your screen.

On devices with a Touch Bar, hitting the Command, Shift, and 6 buttons grabs an image of the Touch Bar itself. You may want to do this to know exactly what your Touch Bar is currently running.

App Switching

Command + Tab allows you to switch through all currently open apps. If you have more than two apps running, hold down Command and then keep hitting Tab until you get to your desired app. If you press Tab too many times, you can go back by pressing the left arrow key while still holding down Command.

Tab Switching Within the Same App

If you’re like most people, you probably have five or more tabs of the same app open. This is especially true for browsers and text editors. The thing is, the Command + Tab shortcut only lets you switch from one app to another.

To switch from one tab to another within the same app, hit Command + ` (just right above the Tab button). With this shortcut key combo, you can maneuver through all your open Doc files, for instance.

Tab Switching Within the Same Browser Window

Use Command + a number (1 to 9) to switch through tabs within the same browser window. Let’s say you have nine Safari tabs open in a single window. If you press Command + 3, Safari will switch to the third tab on its list.

Deleting Text Entries

Now that you’re a Mac user, you’ll have to get used to not having a Backspace key. The “Delete” key on Macs, however, acts like the Backspace key on Windows. Fortunately, you have several ways to invoke the kind of delete you’re used to.

Use the shortcuts “Control + D” or “Fn + Delete” to remove the character to the right of the cursor. If you want to remove the characters to the left of the cursor, hit “Option + Delete”. The shortcut “Control + H” is another way to invoke the “Delete” or backspace function on Macs.

Tab Recall

Hit “Command + Shift + T” if you accidentally close a browser tab that you still want to view. This keyboard shortcut will relaunch the last tab you closed.

Undo Your Previous Command

Did you know that in 2018, over 65% of people (or one of their family members) lost data due to accidental deletions? That shows just how common it is to lose files on accident.

The good news is, you can redo most deletions on Mac with the shortcut “Command + Z”. This also works on other commands, such as if you accidentally delete a sentence on TextEdit or Word.

Screen Lock

To quickly lock your screen, hit Control + Command + Q. Do this if you need to leave your gear for a quick break.

Force Quit

It’s unlikely that you’ll need to use this Mac shortcut seeing as your gear is new, but it’s too useful not to know. It’s the Control Alt Delete for Mac computers, which you launch by hitting Command + Option + Escape.

The most common situations that warrant the Force Quit are sudden app crashes. You can also use it in case you encounter the forever-spinning beachball icon.  

Use the Best Mac Shortcuts Now for Greater Productivity

There you have it, the ultimate list of the best Mac shortcuts you should be using now. Nailing these down will help you get the most out of your new Mac, which can then help you become more productive. So, memorize as many of these as you can, or at least, have a copy of the list in your Sticky Notes.

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