macOS: How to Create Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

2 minute read
| Quick Tip

If there’s a menu command you use all of the time—like Calendar’s “Show All-Day Events,” which I wrote about this week—that doesn’t have an associated keyboard shortcut, make one of your own! This’ll simplify your workflow considerably, especially if you like shortcuts as much as I do. Go up and click the menu bar if I don’t have to? Madness.

The first thing you’ll do to start this process is to note the way that the command you want to make a shortcut for is spelled out within its program.

macOS Calendar View Menu without a keyboard shortcut for Show All-Day Events

So my Calendar option is under the View Menu, and it’s listed as “Show All-Day Events.” Once you’ve made note of yours, click on the Apple Menu, choose System Preferences, and then visit the “Keyboard” section.

Use macOS Keyboard Preferences to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts

Within “Keyboard,” then, click on the “Shortcuts” tab as I’ve done below…

Shortcuts Tab in Keyboard preferences for adding custom keyboard shortcuts

…and then select “App Shortcuts” from the sidebar.

App Shortcuts in Keyboard preferences lets you set which app's commands you're customizing

As I’ve indicated, that section has a plus button near the bottom, so if you click that, you can add your custom shortcut!

Adding a new custom keyboard shortcut

So in the first drop-down, choose the program you’re applying your shortcut to. Then you’ll type in the command, indicating the menus and submenus it’s under with the “hyphen-greater than” combo I’ve used above. Be sure to include any capitalization and punctuation; if you need to type an ellipsis, the keyboard shortcut is Option-Semicolon.

Here are another couple of examples to show you what I mean. First, we’ll do Safari’s File > Share > Messages command…

Use app menus to see the exact command name like Share to Messages in Safari

…which you’ll put in like this:

Entering the exact command name to make a new keyboard shortcut

Then let’s do File > Export as PDF…

Finding Safari's Export as PDF command before making a keyboard shortcut

…like so:

Making an Export as PDF custom keyboard shortcut

Anyway, once you’re sure you have the command typed correctly, you’ll add in the “Keyboard Shortcut” field by just clicking within it and pressing your desired shortcut!

Entering the key combination for your custom keyboard shortcut

You’re done! You’ll see your creation appear in the list after you click “Add”:

Finished custom keyboard shortcut ready to use

And your shortcut will also show up within the app you added it to.

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts appear in app menus

Be sure, though, that the shortcut isn’t a duplicate of one already in use. If that’s the case, yours may not work, and you’ll have to come back here to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts and click on the original shortcut you created to press a new one.

You can edit custom keyboard shortcuts after you make them

One more note: You may be able to add a custom keyboard shortcut without putting the menu hierarchy in (e.g., using “Show All-Day Events” instead of “View->Show All-Day Events”), but in my experience, doing so may mean that your shortcut acts flaky or stops working altogether. If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to check out Apple’s support article on this topic! It’s fairly extensive.

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