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Mac User Tip: Creating Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Jason LaRose July 15, 2011 Noteworthy, Productivity

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Let’s face it, keyboard shortcuts are awesome. On a super busy day, they can save you thousands of mouse clicks and shave a significant amount of time off your project. That’s why we jackrabbits move so fast, aside from the 3 cups of coffee and Starbucks runs every day.

But sometimes there’s a process or a menu item in your favorite application that doesn’t have a shortcut, bringing your roll to a stop. This tip will teach you how to avoid that and create your own custom keyboard shortcut. It’s important to note that the shortcut you create shouldn’t exist anywhere else in the application, otherwise, one may override the other. Also, this only works with menu items (however, if you have a plugin that adds a menu item to your application, you can still customize it).

Find the Menu Item

For this example, I’m going to create a shortcut in Apple Mail, in particular, File > Save Attachments…. As you can see from the screenshot below, Mail doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut for this menu item.

It’s important that you make note of the spelling and punctuation of the menu item, (Save Attachments…) all the way down to the ellipses at the end.

System Preferences

Leave Mail and hop on over to System Preferences under the Apple Menu. You’ll see right in the center, an option for Keyboard. Click it.

You’ll then be presented with the Keyboard screen, where you’ll need to click Keyboard Shortcuts. You’ll see a +/- button in the center of the window below.

Click the + button to bring up a dialog box where you will be able to select the application, provide the Menu Title and provide the Keyboard Shortcut you desire. In this example, I simply typed Control+S. Once you’re done, click add.

Then close the window and hop back over to Mail or your application of choice, quit it and restart it. Go check out the File menu and you’ll now notice our menu item has a new keyboard shortcut.


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