7 MacBook keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

MacBook Air M2 2022
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

MacBook keyboard shortcuts are essential to know. Whether a newcomer to the Apple ecosystem or a veteran, keyboard shortcuts can help you breeze through tasks on the best MacBooks. And since most shortcuts are relatively easy to remember, you shouldn’t have a problem incorporating them into your routine.

Apple has an entire page (opens in new tab) dedicated to keyboard shortcuts. There are well over a hundred shortcuts, which can be quite daunting to sift through even for seasoned Apple laptop users. To that end, we’ve compiled the seven most important MacBook keyboard shortcuts everyone should know.

Want to get a jumpstart on using a MacBook or simply want a quick refresher on keyboard shortcuts? Read on to get started.

1. Open spotlight

A screenshot of Spotlight search on a MacBook

(Image credit: Apple)

Need to find something on your MacBook quickly? Press Command + Space to bring up Spotlight. After that, type whatever you’re searching for in the search bar.

This is arguably the most important shortcut to remember.

2. Switch between open apps

If you have several open tabs, you can easily switch between them by pressing Command + Tab. This shortcut has been around for years and is extremely useful. It also pairs nicely with the following shortcut below.

3. Close window

You can close the current active window by pressing Command + W. This one is a big time saver since you won’t have to scroll the cursor over to the Close button on a window’s top left corner. 

4. Take screenshots

Press Shift + Command + 3 to take a screenshot. This one is a bit more complex than the previous shortcuts since it involves pressing three keys simultaneously. However, it shouldn’t take long to become second nature — especially if you frequently take screenshots.

if you want to capture a certain part of the screen, hit Command + Control + Shift + 4 on your Mac. Then click on you mouse and drag the cursor to draw a box around the area you want to capture, and it will automatically be copied to your clipboard. 

5. Force close a program

A screenshot of the force close menu on a MacBook

(Image credit: Apple)

macOS Ventura and its programs are generally stable. However, you’ll inevitably need to force close a program that freezes or crashes.

To do that, press Option + Command + Esc to force close any troublesome program.

6. Reopen tab 

Reopening a closed tab is as easy as pressing Command + Shift + T. This shortcut is useful if you ever accidentally close a tab.

7. Define highlighted word

A screenshot of the define word feature on a MacBook

(Image credit: Apple)

Everyone eventually runs into a word they’re either unfamiliar with or don’t know how to pronounce.

Pressing Command + Control + D will bring up a window containing a word’s definition, along with its thesaurus entry. 

Other useful keyboard shortcuts 

As we said, there are over a hundred keyboard shortcuts on a MacBook. The ones listed above are essential, but there are many many more. Below are a few others to keep in mind, but refer to Apple's Mac keyboard shortcut page (opens in new tab) for a complete list of keyboard shortcuts. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Keyboard shortcutFunction
Command + CCopy the selected item to the Clipboard.
Command + VPaste the contents of the Clipboard into the current document or app
Option + Command + Power buttonPut your Mac to sleep
Control + Command + Media EjectQuit all apps, then restart your Mac
Shift + Command + DOpen the desktop folder.
Option + Command + DShow or hide the Dock.
Control + AMove to the beginning of the line or paragraph.
Control + EMove to the end of a line or paragraph.
Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.