Tab, Tab, Shift-Tab. Hotel receptionists and Airline ticket agents know this combination of keys intimately; it’s how they navigate the reservation and property management systems in front of them. Watch them for a few minutes and you will notice they hardly use the mouse at all, mainly because it takes time to lift their hand off the keyboard, grab the mouse, find it on the screen, and click.
Office workers that have been using PC’s for years likely know how to do keyboard navigation on a PC, but what about those of us that are new to using Mac’s? There are a few differences, but if you have a Mac, you can easily navigate without using the mouse. Here are some tips to help you utilize the keyboard to navigate around your Mac.
Jump to Finder
The Finder on your Mac is the desktop, and is also what allows you to access and view files on the computer’s hard drive. If you’re working in a program and need to open a different one, or need to view your desktop, you can do a number of things.
- Hit Command + H. This is the shortcut to hide the open program. If you only have one program open, you will automatically navigate to the finder. If you want to go to your desktop after hiding a program, but have a file window open, you can hit Command + W to close the window.
- Hold Command and press Tab. Follow this sequence and you’ll get a box in the middle of your screen listing all open programs. A white border indicates the program that you will navigate to when you let the two keys go. Simply keep Command pressed down and tap Tab until the white box is over Finder (the double happy face).
To determine if you have successfully navigated to Finder, look at the top left of the screen. It should say Finder beside the Apple icon.
Open and navigate a folder
Once you are in Finder, you can press Command + N to open a new Finder window. The window that opens will be the user’s file (typically represented by the Home icon). If you have more than one Finder window open, pressing Command + Tilde (~) will cycle through Finder windows.
When you open a new window, you will notice that the first file in the window is highlighted. If it isn’t, simply press the right arrow. To navigate within this folder, pressing the up key will move you up one folder row, pressing the left key moves one folder to the left, pressing right moves one folder to the right, and pressing down will go down one folder row. Hitting Command + Down arrow will open the folder you have selected. Hitting Command + Up arrow will exit the folder. For example, if you have Applications selected and hit Command + Down arrow, the Applications folder will open. In Applications, hitting Command + Up, will go to the previous folder.
When you open a folder with lots of files or applications in it, quickly type the first three letters of the name of the file or application you seek to be taken to the closest relative file. For example, if you are looking for Google Chrome in the application folder, quickly typing GOO will take you to the first file in the folder that has “GOO” as the first three letters in its name.
To carry on with the Google Chrome example from above, you can hit Command + o to open the program. This also works for files. If you need to open a menu from the menu bar (usually located at the top of the screen) hit Shift + Command + ?. This will open the Help menu, and pressing the arrow keys left or right will allow you to navigate to the menu options beside it. Pressing down will allow you to navigate down the selected menu to the different options. Hitting Enter/return will execute the command you have highlighted.
By using these commands, you can keep your hands on the keyboard, and if you know what you’re looking for, it can make you more efficient. If you would like to learn more about using Macs more efficiently, please contact us.