Many people like to use keyboard instead of mouse for quickly accessing applications in Mac. However not all menu items in macOS have default shortcuts assigned to them. This may disappoint keyboard experts 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.
Related: Alt code shortcuts for Mac.
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
The process has four steps and we will explain each of the step in detail.
Step1 – Open Keyboard Preferences
Click on the “Apple” icon located on top left corner of your Mac and choose “System Preferences…” menu. Click on “Keyboard” option.
Step2 – Creating App Shortcuts
Select “App Shortcuts” from the left panel available under “Shortcuts” tab then click on the “+” button.
Step3 – Choosing App and Menu
You will see a fly out screen showing the option to select / type the Application, Menu Title and Keyboard Shortcut. Assume you want to assign the keyboard shortcut for “Command + /” for viewing “Page Thumbnails”.
In the fly out screen, select / type the following details:
- Application – choose “Pages” from the dropdown.
- Menu Title – type the menu item as you see on the application like “Page Thumbnails”.
- Keyboard Shortcut – enter the shortcut key you want, for example we enter “Command + /” here.
Click “Add” button to add the custom shortcut in the list.
Step4 – Using Shortcut in the App
Now open the Pages and check the “View” menu and you will see the shortcut you created will be showing next to the menu “Page Thumbnails” as shown below.
Pressing ⌘/ will show the page thumbnails on the sidebar.
Important Point When Choosing Shortcuts
- Ensure to select the menu title as exactly shown in the application menu.
- You can select shortcut keys as a combination, function keys or a single key. Examples: F10, , ⌘⌃, ⌥⌘B.
- Select key combination which is already not existing for another menu item.
- 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 work in the Pages app.
- After creating the 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 work across all applications unlike menu shortcuts that work only on particular application.
Follow the below instructions for setup text replacement:
- When you are in “Keyboard” preferences section, go to “Text” tab.
- Click on the + icon.
- Type “Replace” and “With” values.
- Mac will automatically save the text replacements and sync across all your devices logged with same iCloud account.
Whenever you type the text in “Replace field on applications, Mac will change that with the text from “With” field. For example, in the above screenshot, Mac will change “applelogo” to the symbol .