How to create custom keyboard shortcuts for any Mac app

Frustrated because there isn’t a keyboard shortcut for a command that you use all the time in a Mac app? You can create one in the system preferences!

First click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner and then select “System Preferences”.

In the “System Preferences” click on “Keyboard” and then on the “Shortcuts” tab.

On the Keyboard menu, click Shortcuts.

Click on “App shortcuts” in the sidebar.

Click on

Click the plus sign (+) to add a new shortcut.

Click the plus sign (+) to add a keyboard shortcut.

A new window will appear with a drop-down menu and two text fields. Click the drop-down menu labeled Application and select the application you want to link to (we selected Pages).

Select the application you want a keyboard shortcut for.


Next, open the app and look for the exact name of the menu command you want to convert to a shortcut. We chose “Page Thumbnails” from the “View” menu because there is no keyboard shortcut yet.

We clicked

Return to the keyboard shortcut entry window and enter the exact name of the menu command you want to convert to a keyboard shortcut in the Menu Title field.

Then click the Keyboard Shortcut box and enter the keyboard shortcut you want to use to trigger. We chose Shift + Command + K because it wasn’t already used.

You can use almost any command, option, and control combination with any number, letter, or character key. You can also use the Shift key to create a unique combination.

Enter the name of the menu item in the Menu Title field and the keyboard shortcut you want to use in the Keyboard Shortcut field.

Click “Add” and the popup will close. You will now see that your keyboard shortcut is listed in the “Keyboard” settings. In the app, you should also see your new shortcut in the drop-down menu next to its associated command.

A keyboard shortcut next to Page Thumbnails on the View menu in Pages.

From now on, every time you press this key combination, the menu item you selected will be triggered.


If you’d like to remove a custom shortcut later, just go to System Preferences> Keyboards> Shortcuts again, select the custom shortcut from the list, then press the minus sign (-).

Tips for custom Mac shortcuts

Create a

Keep the following tips in mind when creating keyboard shortcuts:

  • When creating a shortcut, you must use the exact name of a menu item. This includes upper and lower case letters, spaces or punctuation marks.
  • The key combination you specify must be unique. If there is a duplicate, one of the functions will not work properly.
  • If the keyboard shortcut you want is used, try adding Shift, Control, or both. To the example, instead of Command + V (which is reserved for pasting text) you can use Shift + Ctrl + Command + V.
  • You can create universal keyboard shortcuts. Simply select “All Applications” from the “Applications” list. Your shortcut will then work in any app that contains the same menu item that you enter.
  • Rename, Compress, and Bring All to Front would be useful shortcuts. These would come in handy for window management in many apps. Compress works in the Finder, but may also work in other programs.

Keyboard shortcuts are a powerful feature in your Mac arsenal. Browse your favorite apps and see what you can think of!

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