Here is another skill I recommended in the first chapter of Dr. Macintosh (1989) and still recommend to this day. That skill is reducing your dependence on the mouse. Many of the things you do with your mouse can be done faster and easier with a keyboard shortcut.

If you’re not familiar with keyboard shortcuts, look in just about any menu in almost any application and you’ll see some. Take the Finder’s Edit menu, for example:

Memorize the shortcuts for Cut, Copy, Paste, and Select All to improve your productivity big-time.

I can’t remember the last time I opened this menu to use any of its commands. They’re so important and I use them so often, their keyboard shortcuts are embedded in my muscle memory. It would behoove you to memorize them all (or at least the four in the middle: Cut, Copy, Paste, and Select All).

Here’s another useful example: Instead of selecting the Icon, List, Column or Cover Flow view from the View menu, try using their keyboard shortcuts instead:

Memorize the first three commands in the View menu and use them often.
  • Command+1 to switch to Icon view
  • Command+2 for List view
  • Command+3 for Column view
  • Command+4 for Cover Flow view.

See! Isn’t that faster than taking your hand off the keyboard, grabbing the mouse, moving the cursor to the View menu, and then clicking an item?

I used that menu as an example for a reason: You want to memorize those commands or at least the first three (unless you’re among the handful who find Cover Flow view useful).

In any case, switching views quickly make it easier to work in the Finder. For example, if I am browsing a folder with a lot of pictures in List view (background window below), I just press Command+1 to switch to Icon view so I can see thumbnails of the images (foreground window below).

Switching Finder views with a keyboard shortcut is handy, but it’s merely one of the thousands of shortcuts available in the Finder and almost every Mac app that can save you oodles of time every day.

These are the symbols you'll see next to keyboard shortcuts in your menus.

Whenever you find yourself using a menu item more than a few times a day, look for a keyboard shortcut on its right. These are the four symbols you might see next to a letter, number, or punctuation mark in a menu:

So, look for these shortcut symbols in menus, and memorize the ones you use most. Trust me, keyboard shortcuts are faster every time; you’ll save many minutes every day not reaching for the mouse/ trackpad or moving it up to a menu item, which slows you down more than you think.

I created a two-page PDF you can use to memorize some of the more useful shortcuts; you can download it hereNow, tape both pages to your monitor, and then don’t remove them until your fingers automatically perform these shortcuts every time and you never think about reaching for the mouse.

I know it might seem weird that I’m telling you to print it, but that way you won’t need a mouse to find it. Plus, if you only keep it as a file on your hard drive you’ll surely forget about it.

Please follow and like us:

About the Author

Bob Levitus

Bob LeVitus, often referred to as “Dr. Mac,” is a well-known authority on all things Macintosh, OS X, and Apple devices including the iPad and iPhone. One of the Apple community’s most trusted advisors for almost thirty years, he’s known for his trademark humorous style and unerring ability to translate “techie” jargon into usable and fun advice for regular folks. He's written more than 80 books including macOS Sierra For Dummies, iPhone For Dummies, and iPad For Dummies. And, for the past 20 years, he's written the Dr. Mac column for the Houston Chronicle (which he still does). He's also been writing for The Mac Observer for almost as long (he still does that, too). Bob has been published in more than a dozen computer magazines over the past thirty years including: a three-year stint as Editor-in-Chief of the irreverent and unpredictable MACazine and four different columns in MacUser magazine: Beating the System, Personal Best, Game Room, and the Help Folder (with Andy Ihnatko, and later, Chris Breen). Though best known for writing, he’s also dabbled in broadcasting with a radio show (Inside Mac Radio, CNET Radio, 2001-2002) and hosted a popular television series (Mac Today, Syndicated, 1992–1993). Another of Bob’s loves is teaching, which he's been doing at University of Texas Informal Classes for over a decade, with well-loved courses including, iPhone for Smart People, Making Music with GarageBand, and soon, Working Smarter for Mac Users. Always in-demand as a speaker, Bob has presented more than 200 seminars, workshops, conferences, and training sessions in the U.S. and abroad, and given Macworld Expo keynotes in three countries, He's also done presentations at countless Apple Stores, and at least three world-famous Geek Cruises. Last but not least, Bob won the Macworld Expo MacJeopardy World Championship three times before retiring his crown. He did not, however, return the Rocket J. Squirrel Memorial Cup, which is still displayed prominently in his office. Prior to giving in to his obsessions with Apple technology and productivity, Bob worked in advertising, producing television commercials, radio spots, and print ads for Kresser & Robbins and SelecTV, in Los Angeles. Bob holds a B.S. in Marketing from California State University and lives in beautiful (and over-crowded) Austin, Texas with his beautiful wife, Lisa, and Zeke the Wonder Vizsla, with occasional visits from now-adult children Allison and Jacob.