How to Navigate Your Mac With Full Keyboard Access

macOS has an accessibility feature called Full Keyboard Access, and it lets you use your keyboard to interact with things on the screen. You use the Tab key and arrow keys in order to navigate, and the Space bar to select an item.

Full Keyboard Access

To turn on Full Keyboard Access:

  1. In the menu bar, click on the Apple () icon.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click the Shortcuts tab.

Here is where you’ll find default shortcuts for various things. You can change the shortcuts to your liking (double-click), and choose whether you want to navigate only text boxes and lists, or all controls on the screen.

Turn on Full Keyboard Access in macOS System Preferences.


Apple has a full list of commands on its Full Keyboard Access webpage. Here are a few:

Action Shortcut
Switch between navigation of all controls on the screen, or only text boxes and lists Control-F7
Move to the next control Tab
Move to the previous control Shift-Tab
Move to the next control when a text field is selected Control-Tab
Move the focus to the previous grouping of controls Control-Shift-Tab
Move to the adjacent item in a list, tab group, or menu

Move sliders and adjusters (Up Arrow to increase values, Down Arrow to decrease values)

Arrow keys
Move to a control adjacent to the text field Control–Arrow keys
Choose the selected menu item Space bar
Click the default button or perform the default action Return or Enter

Once you’ve gotten some shortcuts memorized, it should actually be quicker than using a trackpad or mouse. Power users often make use of the keyboard more, and this goes back to the days when computers had a console interface without a graphical user interface.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments