Category: How to

Would you like to know how to easily improve your display and sound settings?

Options Aplenty

The aptly named “option” key (the one with the ⌥ symbol) provides several options when combined with particular F keys. For example, F1 brings up the Display window of the System Settings. This is because F1 is the ‘decrease brightness’ key. Similarly, F2. is the ‘increase brightness’ key and like the F1 key, when combined with the key, brings up the system’s display settings.

Display settings screenshot with photo of Mac keyboard showing Option-F1

Change the Display settings with Option-F1

Options for Sound Effects, Output and Input

On the top-right region of the keyboard are the volume settings, F11, F12, and F13. Using the key with any of these will provide instant access to the Sound panel of the System Settings. There you can adjust your mic’s input volume, or adjust the volume of your alerts.

Sound panel of System Settings

Grasshopper to Mission Control

Mission Control is great for quickly and easily getting an overview of and access to all your open windows, your Dashboard, and all your open applications. Customising your Mission Control settings to your own choice of key triggers is just as easy.

Use the F3 or F4 keyboard combination to bring up the Mission Control settings. From here you can set what key combinations you prefer for accessing things like Mission Control, open Applications, showing Desktop or Dashboard and also for setting the Hot Corner triggers for your mouse.

Mission Control Settings


Young Caine: You cannot see.
Master Po: You think I cannot see?
Young Caine: Of all things, to live in darkness must be worst.
Master Po: Fear is the only darkness.

Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down, sees the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?


The five colours blind the eye. The five notes deafen the ear.

– Chapter 12, Tao Te Ching.

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Let’s say you’ve sent a lot of files to the Trash and you would now like to empty the Trash. You probably know that you can right-click on the Trash icon and choose “Empty Trash” but did you know…yep, you guessed it, there is a keyboard shortcut for that!

Empty the Trash with Finder in focus

This is a general keyboard tip for the Operating System. That is, it applies to the Finder and will have a different effect that the one described here if you use it while using an app, such as Chrome, for example.

fingers on the command, Shift,  and Delete keys

Empty the trash with CMD-Shift-Delete.

While in the Finder, or on the Desktop, which is technically a part of Finder, put your thumb on the key and while holding it down put your index finger on the key and while holding both those down, add you middle finger to the mix by tapping it on the delete key.

Empty the Trash = delete

A small message will pop up asking you are sure you want to permanently delete the files in the Trash:

pop up confirmation message

Added Option: Permission to take out the Trash

You can bypass the need to confirm that you want to empty the Trash by adding the (option) key. It’s a bit of a handful, literally, but it is not too difficult as you can hold the key down at the same time as the key with your thumb.

Empty the trash without confirmation = delete



That which is empty is used to create functionality.
- Chapter 11, Tao Te Ching.

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You can always drag a file into the Trash, but there is a much faster and easier method of getting rid of unwanted files.

Send straight to Trash with Command-Delete

Instead of wrestling that file to the ground and dragging it into the Trash, kick that file straight into the bin using the delete combo! Just select the file by clicking on it with your mouse or using your shift and arrow keys, and then hold your right thumb on the key and tap the delete key.

Photo of hand on the keys Command and delete

Take out the Trash with Command-Delete

Command key or Apple key?

As you may have noticed in the image above, and in the previous post about selecting the URL, on some keyboards the key also has an Apple logo on it (my thumb is covering the ⌘ symbol in the photo above). To add some confusion, the Command key is sometimes referred to as the “Apple key”.

Trash files without getting your fingers dirty

The beauty of the delete combination is that, unlike the drag and drop method, you don’t have to go any where near the Trash. So if you prefer to keep your hands clean you can send unwanted files to the trash in one swift move with delete.

In cleaning away the worldly view can one be without imperfections?
- Chapter 10, Tao Te Ching.

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This week we explore the L shortcut, useful for changing the URL in the browser’s address bar and one that can be used in conjunction with earlier Keyboard Kung Fu tips such as Cut, Copy & Paste and Switching Between Open Apps.

Address the Situation with Command L

Throughout the course of a general work day I regularly need to access a website’s URL, that is, a website’s address. Sometimes I need to copy the URL and paste it into another field or application, often into an email so that I can share the website with a colleague. Other times I want to paste a URL that I have obtained from elsewhere into the address bar of the web browser.

This is where the L combination is a very useful weapon in your repertoire of Keyboard Kung Fu moves.

Mac Keyboard showing CMD L keyboard combo

Highlight the URL ready to either paste over or copy

How to Select the URL in the Address Bar

Whenever you are using a web browser, be it Safari, Chrome, Firefox or other, simply holding down the key with your thumb and then tapping the L key highlights the URL in the address bar, ready to either paste over or copy.

Exercise: Copy & Paste a URL from one browser to another

Now that we have a few Keyboard Kung Fu lessons under our belt let’s consolidate our learning by combining some of these techniques to achieve a practical task.

Task: In this scenario you have opened a website in Firefox but the page is not displaying properly so you want to see what the same website looks like in Safari. How would you do that using as many of the keyboard shortcuts we’ve already learned?

Here’s one way we could do that:
Assuming that you already have both browsers open:
1. While in Firefox use the L technique to select the URL in the address bar.
2. Use C to copy the URL.
3. Using tab will allow you to then move from Firefox to the Safari browser.
4. The L combo is then used to select the URL in the address bar of Safari.
5. Finally, use V to paste the URL into the address bar and tap return to load the website.

All of this is achieved without ever needing to take your hands from the keyboard to touch the mouse.


Without going out the door, know the world.
- Chapter 47, Tao Te Ching.

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Using this keyboard combination to cut, copy & paste will increase your productivity on the Mac immensely.

Copy/Cut & Paste

Perhaps the most well known of all keyboard shortcuts is Copy & Paste, or Cut & Paste. It’s a very quick and easy way to copy or move text around from one document or field to another. It can also be used with files to duplicate them or move them from one location to another.

How to Copy & Paste

Select some text and hold down the Command key and tap on the C key. This action copies the text and puts it in memory on a virtual clipboard.

Pasting via a keyboard shortcut is one that often confuses new users. Most people intuitively assume that pasting is accomplished using the P combination but this has already been allocated to the Print function. Instead, the paste function uses the V combination.

Fingers on Mac keyboard showing Copy and Paste shortcut

Copy & Paste with Command-C and Command-V

How to Cut & Paste

Select some text and then hold down the Command key and tap on the X key. This action removes the selected text from it’s current position and copies it to the clipboard. This is a temporary location and will be forever lost if the copied text is not then pasted somewhere.

Paste the copied text to the new location with the V combination as described above.

Fingers on keyboard showing cut and paste

Cut & Paste with Command-X and Command-V

Moving Files with Copy & Paste…and Option

As stated in at the beginning of this post, files can also be moved around with these keyboard combinations. Prior to the release of the Lion operating system (OSX 10.7), however, files could only be copied from one location to another using the keyboard, which left a duplicate in the original location. The only way to move a file was to drag and drop it. With Lion, and the later operating systems, came the ability to truly cut & paste files to easily move them from one location to another. There is just one small difference to cutting and copying text and that is the need for a ‘modifier’ key to be used when pasting the file in it’s new location.

To cut and paste files from one location to another you need to add the Option key .

Copy the file: C
Paste the file: V

Note that when you copy the file it is not removed from it’s current location until it has been pasted in its new position, ensuring that the file is not lost.


Those who imitate me are honoured.
- Chapter 70, Tao Te Ching.

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Keyboard Kung Fu: Command-Q = Quit application

You’ve probably noticed when you close an application by clicking on the little ‘x’ at the top left of the window that this doesn’t completley close the app. You can tell that the app is still running by the little arrow beneath the app. To completely close the app is known as ‘quitting’ the app. To quit the current application, simply hold down the Command key and tap on the ‘Q’ key: Q

Photo of keyboard showing Command-Q = Quit

Quitting an Application with Command-Q

When Lion (10.7) was released it introduced a new ‘resume’ feature that adds the ability to restore the state of files and windows of an application as they were when the program quit with Q. If, however, you don’t want the program to save and restore its last state, you can now include the Option key while quitting, eg: Q and the previous state will not be saved.

Combine Command-Q with Command-Tab

Like the Command-H move, Q can be used together with tab to quickly & easily access the app that you want to quit once.

I often tab to see what apps are still running that I am no longer using and then Q to stop them running, freeing up system resources.

A good commander achieves the result, then stops.
Chapter 30, Tao Te Ching.

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Clear your view, move your focus to the task at hand with H.

Command-H = Hide application

Put simply, the H shortcut will make the current application disappear from view. It remains open and running, but invisibly in the background.

Command-H kyboard shortcut

Clear your view with Command-H

This is a handy keyboard shortcut when you have many applications running and you want to hide some of them from view without actually quitting the apps. Try repeatedly tapping H and one by one the open apps will disappear leaving you on the desktop.

Combine two Keyboard Kung Fu moves to swiftly refocus attention

The H combination is very useful when used in conjunction with the Command-Tab action that we covered in a previous Keyboard Kung Fu lesson. Any app that is open can be selected and hidden quickly & easily, and any hidden application can be brought back into view by Command-Tabbing to it. These two actions, hiding an app and then bringing it back into view, replace the need to minimise applications to the dock and then restore them using the mouse.

The Tao is hidden and nameless
Yet it is only the Tao that excels in giving and completing everything.

- Chapter 41, Tao Te Ching.

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