How to Navigate Your Mac With Full Keyboard Access

1 minute read
| Quick Tip

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.

Commands

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

ActionShortcut
Switch between navigation of all controls on the screen, or only text boxes and listsControl-F7
Move to the next controlTab
Move to the previous controlShift-Tab
Move to the next control when a text field is selectedControl-Tab
Move the focus to the previous grouping of controlsControl-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 fieldControl–Arrow keys
Choose the selected menu itemSpace bar
Click the default button or perform the default actionReturn 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.

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