Jul 13 2011

Obscure and Valuable Keyboard Shortcuts


If there is one thing that many of us in the design and development fields love, it is shortcuts. Those lovely little timesavers and workflow improvers that quickly get us where we need to go in fewer motions. Effectively keeping us in stride, as we navigate our computers and various apps using the shortcuts that we have picked up along the way. But even the most alert of those among us will have numerous hotkeys go under our radar, as there are just so many out there.

So in this quest to find some useful and obscure hotkeys we turned, as we do from time to time, to the faithful followers and friends of the Smashing team. With days of amazing answers to sift and sort through, we have compiled a truly exciting list of keyboard shortcuts that may not be that widely known. So we hope that our readers find this post as helpful as we imagine that they will.


  • ALT + CMD + SPACE to search in finder
  • CMD + ALT + Left/Right to switch between tabs
  • CMD + L to access the input field
  • CMD + ` on a mac to tab through application windows
  • CMD + OPT + ESC to Force Quit apps
  • CMD + Tab to cycle through open apps on Mac
  • CMD + H to hide the window
  • CMD + ALT + H to hide other windows
  • Shift + CMD + I when in safari opens a mail with the link of the current page in it
  • CMD + T followed by CMD + K to perform a search in a new tab
  • ALT + CMD + Eject put the mac to sleep
  • CMD + Shift + A to autofill forms in Safari
  • OPT/CMD + arrow keys – also hold Shift to select. Makes it easy to delete multiple words/lines quickly
  • CMD + OPT + Shift and V to paste without coping the formatting of what you pasted
  • CTRL + OPT + CMD + 8. Inverts Mac screen colors
  • CMD + Shift + 4. Saves a snapshot of a selected area to the desktop (You can then press spacebar to cycle between a crosshair or window selection)
  • CMD + CTRL + Shift + 4 = snap a screen a picture of a marquee area of the screen and copy it to clipboard
  • CMD + SPACE to open spotlight
  • CTRL + OPT + CMD + Eject Quits all applications and shuts the computer down
  • CMD + E to eject selected volume on the Mac
  • CTRL + Shift + CMD + 3 for clipboard – screenshot, compared to print-screen on PCs
  • CMD + , on a Mac to access current app preferences
  • CMD + OPT click and drag creates an alias of the file where you drag it
  • CMD + Delete to move to trash
  • CMD + Shift + Delete to empty the trash from Finder
  • CTRL + OPT + CMD + . = increase contrast CTRL + OPT + CMD + , = decrease contrast
  • CMD + OPT + D to hide/unhide the dock


  • CTRL + INS to copy, Shift + INS to paste, Shift + Delete to cut. Such an underappreciated series of hotkeys.
  • CTRL + 0 to return web page to 100% (default) zoom level
  • CTRL + Shift + Eject to turn off monitor
  • CTRL + Shift + ESC on windows to get to task manager directly
  • Win7: WIN + M to minimize all opened windows
  • WIN + Left/Right to put windows side by side. Nice live coding method.
  • CTRL + K + D this hotkey indents html and c# code nicely
  • WIN + D (return to desktop)
  • ALT + BACK to backspace by the word rather than by the character
  • win: Shift + Delete delete files without saving to trash bin


  • CTRL + ALT + T to open Terminal on Ubuntu. I can’t live without it now

Photoshop / Illustrator

  • CMD + Shift + C in Photoshop to copy the merged selection (save’s you the step of merging your file then undoing!)
  • In Photoshop – CMD + ALT + 0 to resize the window to 100% is essential for web designers!
  • Shift + ALT + CMD + S (win: CTRL + Shift + ALT + S)… Save for web in Photoshop
  • CTRL + Shift + C flatten and copy with transparency, Photoshop
  • Illustrator CTRL + 7 to crop image
  • Photoshop: CTRL + Shift + ALT + E merges all visible layers to a new layer on top of the others without deleting them

Firefox / Chrome

  • CTRL + Shift + E for Edit CSS (Firefox/Webmasters Toolbar)
  • CMD + Shift + C Inspect Element // Firefox—Firebug // Chrome—Developer Tools
  • CTRL + Shift + T to open closed tabs FF Chrome, and CTRL + Shift + N to open closed windows FF
  • Firefox CTRL + L to enable retyping of a web address
  • ESC hides the mousepointer (in browser). Great for Screenshots

Honorable Mention: Mouse Gestures

“I almost stopped using hot keys when started using mouse gestures, both in ff and chrome”

  • Press Shift and scroll your mousewheel. Scrolls horizontally on the page
  • Click on links using mousewheel in FF & Chrome and links open automatically in new tab


About the Author

The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.


Comments and Discussions
  • Benjamin Ulrich, 13 July 2011

    nice list. Quite a few I didn’t know on there.
    A few more (which deserve mention):

    Cmd+Shift+3: Printscreen saved to desktop.

    Ctrl+D: Jump to desktop.

    Also, the Middle mouse button/mouse wheel click works in IE as well (versions over 7 only). Also, Middle mouse button/wheel click on the tab to close it (which also works in Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005+)

    • Benjamin Ulrich, 13 July 2011

      Jump to desktop on Windows is of course Win+D, and not (as stated) CTRL+D

  • Singh, 13 July 2011

    Excellent list. Great collection!!

  • lien, 13 July 2011

    a couple more that are useful

    cmd+opt+esc = force quit prompt

    win+r = run prompt
    win+l = logout or log in prompt, unsure


    • Benjamin Ulrich, 13 July 2011

      Win+L is lock workstation. :)

    • Shauna, 19 July 2011

      To continue with the Windows/win key theme:

      win+d – Show desktop

  • lono, 13 July 2011

    haha some are pretty random!

    • Robert Bowen, 13 July 2011

      That they are. Guess when we asked for obscure &/or valuable shortcuts we opened the door for a touch of randomness. :)

      Noupe Editorial Team

  • Felix, 13 July 2011

    A few I use as well :)

    - F12 brings up Firebug and the Development Tools in IE
    - Ctrl+Shift+J shows the js console in chrome

    • George Dina, 13 July 2011

      Ctrl+Shift+J it’s also the keyboard shortcut for the js console in Firefox (at least the Ubuntu version).

      By the way, there are a lot of useful keyboard shortcuts for Linux, it’s a shame you mentioned only one :)

      • Robert Bowen, 13 July 2011

        Thanks for the contributions, Felix!

        Yeah, George, it was sad to see it under-represented in the answers we received from our followers, but we didn’t want to leave out the one that got sent our way. By all means, drop in a few more in the comments for our readers!!

        Noupe Editorial Team

  • steff, 13 July 2011

    haha! mac has the most shortcuts… take a look at PC… just a few shortcuts! but wait where’s Internet Explorer? why is it missing? oh wait, internet explorer is only used to download mozila/chrome/safari! :)

    • Shauna, 19 July 2011

      I think that’s because Mac users use their keyboards more than non-Mac users, so they’ll know more of them. I swear, I could take the mouse away from my Mac-using coworkers and it’d take them at least a week to notice!

      • Er1c, 22 December 2013

        There are actually a *lot* more keyboard shortcuts for both Windows and Linux then mac, and I use all three daily (I prefer Mac, then Linux, then windows). You *can’t* completely navigate your mac without a mouse without changes, but you sure can in both windows and Linux (depending on the desktop environment).

        I honestly use my keyboard way more then a mouse in windows … because it is faster… and I have used windows since version 1, and I had no mouse until windows 95. :D

  • Robert Bowen, 13 July 2011

    Thanks for all the kind words and helpful additions to the list! Great to see.

    Noupe Editorial Team

  • origiNell, 13 July 2011

    Note that you can combine most “Switch” (applications, windows) commands with the shift key to switch in the opposite direction.

    Furthermore I want to note that the OSX Shortcut for tabbing through application windows (CMD + `) is CMD+< if you are working on QWERTZ keyboard (most german speaking people)

  • Oli, 14 July 2011

    Not to forget my favorite windows shortcut

    WIN + E to open an explorer window

  • Adam Clark, 14 July 2011

    For Firefox with WebMaster Toolbars:
    Ctrl + Shift + S to disable CSS on the current page. Useful for checking your source order.

  • Mark Wong, 14 July 2011

    Nice collection thanks for sharing :D

  • Daniel S, 14 July 2011

    >> CTRL + Shift + Eject to turn off monitor
    Wtf is the “eject” key on windows keyboards?

    >> ESC hides the mousepointer (in browser). Great for Screenshots
    Does not work (Win7/FF). When you make a screenshot via “PrintScreen”, the Cursor is hidden automatically.

    Another good Shortcut:
    Win+R – Run

    • Shauna, 19 July 2011

      Someone runs Bootcamp, methinks.

  • Daniel S, 14 July 2011

    There are much more Shortcuts on windows.

  • Mick, 19 July 2011

    A few more that I use a lot every day:

    Ctrl + Tab: works in PS, DW, AI, FL, FF, IE, Chrome etc – rotates through opened files/tabs.

    Ctrl + Shift + Tab: same as above but in reverse.

    Win + number on keyboard will jump to or open programs that are pinned in that order. So if PS is your first pinned program, you will get focus or open that program.

    Ctrl + Shift + E in FF4 and above gives you tab grouping where you can sort opened tabs, great for clumping time wasters in one group so you can focus on work.

    • Shauna, 19 July 2011

      win + number (or alt+number, can’t remember which, don’t like Unity) also works on versions of Ubuntu with Unity (11.04+).

  • ALPAL, 20 July 2011

    Why so complicated with cut, copy and paste… has always been easier as:

    CTRL+X = Cut
    CTRL+C = Copy
    CTRL+V = Paste

    Hence college paper plagiarism being colloquially referred to as in the example:
    Student A: “Don’t you have a 4 pager due tomorrow, man” (Applies flame to water pipe).
    Student B: “Yeah man” (pulls slide form water pipe for friend) “but it’ll be an hour of CTRL C CTRL V and I’m done”

  • Orlando, 11 October 2011

    I was thinking of buying a mac but didn’t want to relearn everything as far as shortcuts. They don’t seem so bad here.

  • MIGUEL, 07 December 2011

    “CTRL + Shift + Eject to turn off monitor”
    …wheres the “EJECT” KEY???

  • Chris, 19 March 2013

    ctrl+r then type a keyword from a previous command
    absolute pure genius and, I think you’ll agree, worthy of resurrecting this old thread :)

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