Mac OS Symbols and Shortcuts

If you have recently made the jump from Windows to Mac OS, the keyboard at first can be a little confusing. Here’s a quick list of symbols you will want to use the most, and a savy list of helpful shortcuts.


⌃ = control    Some newer keyboards have the word “control” listed

⌘ = command    Some Mac keyboards have both the symbol and name listed in the key, and older Mac keyboards will have the Apple Logo. (apple<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

⌥ = option   You may see “alt” or “option” instead of the symbol

⏏ = eject   This is a much quicker way to eject CD’s and DVD’s

fn = function key   You use fn to activate the F keys on the top row after you have customized them by assigning them actions.



In computing, a keyboard shortcut (or hotkey) is a finite set of one or more keys that invoke a software or operating system operation when triggered by the user. To use shortcuts, press the key or key combination until the expected function occurs/appears. Here is a list of some of my favorite shortcuts that I often use on my iMac:

⌘Q = Quit the program you are currently using.

⌘W = Close a window, but leave the program running.

⌘N = Open a new window. This can be in several different applications, not just online. In Photoshop you can use it to create a new file, and in a word processing program you can use it to start a new document.

CONTROL SHIFT ⏏ = Instantly turn off your display .  If you need to quickly put your monitor to sleep, this is a great shortcut. On my iMac I can also move my mouse to the top right corner, and in less than two seconds my monitor will go to sleep.

M = Minimize a window. When I am online and I have waaaay too many windows open, I will minimize a few to clean up my monitor, and then go back to them. You can also minimize all the windows on your desktop by typing OPTION M.

Zoom in/out = ⌘+ or ⌘-. This is a great function if you are  visiting a blog where the text is really small or too big.

 SHIFT 4 = Take a screen shot. I LOVE this and use it all the time. (Including cropping the image above.)

C = Copy an image or text

V = Paste an image or text

A = Select all items in your window. This will select all the items on your desktop if you don’t have a window open or selected.

Z = Undo/Redo

 SHIFT ? = Open Mac Help. If you ever feel lost or confused with your computer, take advantage of Mac help to figure things out!

And finally, my absolute favorite! To make an apple icon () you want to type: OPTION  K


These are just a few of MANY shortcuts. I find these are the ones I utilize the most. If you have a favorite I missed please share below! You can view an entire list of OS shortcuts HERE.

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About the author

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is a contributing writer at Organized Mom and Tech4Moms. You can also find her DIY blog online at

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