Many people like to use keyboard instead of mouse for quickly accessing applications in Mac. However not all menu items in macOS has default shortcuts assigned to them. This may disappoint keyboard lovers as they have to use mouse for accessing menu items in applications. It will also become unproductive to repeatedly access menu items with mouse instead of using shortcut keys. Fortunately Apple’s macOS provides an option to create a shortcut for any menu items of an application which does not have default shortcut keys. In this article we will discuss how to create custom keyboard shortcut in macOS. Check out our article on complete list of macOS Keyboard shortcuts.
Example of Menu Item Missing Shortcut Keys
When creating a document in Pages how many times you go to “Edit > Undo” menu for undoing last change? Obviously you tend to use “Command + Z” though you are not an expert in using keyboard shortcut keys. However, some menu items like “Page Thumbnails” in Pages app do not have keyboard shortcut. You have no other option than going to “View > Page Thumbnails” menu every time.
Let us explain how to create a custom keyboard shortcut for the “Page Thumbnails” menu. By using the shortcut keys you can enable thumbnails on the sidebar. You can create another shortcut for “Documents Only” menu (which also does not have default shortcut keys) to toggle the view.
Create Custom Shortcuts for Menu Items in macOS Monterey or Earlier
The process has four steps and we will explain each of the step in detail with macOS Monterey or earlier versions.
Step1 – Open Keyboard Preferences
Click on the “Apple” icon located on top left corner of your Mac and choose “System Preferences…” menu. You will see set of icons for customizing your Mac and click on “Keyboard” option.
Step2 – Creating App Shortcuts
Go to “Shortcuts” tab and then navigate to “App Shortcuts” from the left panel. You will see a + and – buttons below the panel and click on the “+” button to add a custom shortcut.
Step3 – Choosing App and Menu
This will open a pop-up screen showing the option to select or type the Application, Menu Title and Keyboard Shortcut. Let us say, you want to assign the keyboard shortcut “Command + /” for viewing “Page Thumbnails” in Pages app.
In the fly out screen, select or type the following details:
- Application – click the dropdown and select “Pages” from the list of apps.
- Menu Title – type the menu name exactly as you see on the application. In our case, we need to enter “Page Thumbnails” which is the menu name appears in Pages app.
- Keyboard Shortcut – enter the shortcut keys you want to use, for example we enter “Command + /” here.
After filling the correct details, click “Add” button to add the custom shortcut in the list.
Step4 – Using Shortcut in the App
Now, open Pages app and check under “View” menu. You will see the shortcut you created will be showing next to the “Page Thumbnails” menu as shown below.
You can pressing ⌘/ to view the page thumbnails on the sidebar.
Important Points When Choosing Shortcuts
Though creating custom keyboard shortcuts in Mac is an easy process, remember the following when assigning shortcuts to menu items.
- Ensure to select the menu title as exactly shown in the application.
- You can select shortcut keys as a combination of alphanumeric and modifier keys like command, shift, control or option. You can also use function keys in your shortcuts. Here are some examples of custom shortcuts you can use: F10, , ⌘⌃, ⌥⌘B.
- Select the key combination which is already not existing for another menu item in that application.
- Choosing duplicate shortcuts will do both the actions when used. For example, if you have selected ⌘Z as shortcut keys then both “Undo” and “Page Thumbnails” function will be triggered in the Pages app when you press the shortcut keys.
- After creating a shortcut, you can edit anytime just by clicking on it in the “App Shortcuts” preferences.
Creating Text Replacements
Many people confuse the text replacement function as a keyboard shortcut. Text replacement will replace the entered text with the value you have setup in the preferences section. For example, you can type 143 to convert it in to I Love You. This works across all applications unlike menu shortcuts that work only on particular application.
If you like text replacement, then follow the below instructions for setup text replacement in Mac:
- When you are in “Keyboard” preferences section, go to “Text” tab.
- Click on the + icon showing below the left panel.
- Type “Replace” and “With” values. For example, you can type applelogo as “Replace” value and the icon in the “With” value.
- Mac will automatically save the text replacements and sync across all your devices logged with same iCloud account.
Whenever you type the text under “Replace” field in any application, Mac will automatically replace that with the text from “With” field. For example, in the above exxample, Mac will change “applelogo” to the symbol .
Creating Custom Shortcuts in macOs Ventura or Later
If you are using macOS Ventura or later, go to “Apple menu > System Settings > Keyboard” section. Click “Text Replacements…” button to add custom text replacements. For adding menu shortcuts, click “Keyboard Shortcuts…” button.
On the pop-up that appears, go to “App Shortcuts” section and add the menu item for the app you want as explained above.