How to Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts on macOS

A Mac keyboard, close up.

Being more productive on your Mac is a worthwhile pursuit. Doing so lets you carry out more tasks in a work-based context. Of course, you also have more time for leisure if you can move around macOS quicker. If you create custom keyboard shortcuts on macOS, your productivity should soar.

Here we show you how to create keyboard shortcuts, including shortcuts for Apple-specific apps. We also touch on using “Hot Corners” – a great way to jump into certain macOS states when using the Trackpad.

Why You’d Want to Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

In a nutshell, keyboard shortcuts are the number one way to improve your efficiency and productivity on your Mac. For the uninitiated, they’re a collection of key presses that carry out actions without having to use the Trackpad.

There are lots of benefits in doing this. For example:

  • You can keep your hands on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen.
  • Workflows can be drastically reduced in a matter of seconds (with the right key presses).
  • In some cases, you can access underused features of certain apps.

Given these benefits along with the time you’ll save executing them, creating custom keyboard shortcuts is something you’ll want to look into.

How to Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts on macOS

The first place you should look when creating custom keyboard shortcuts is your app’s Preferences screen.

Keyboard Shortcuts App Preferences

Most apps have a set collection of keyboard shortcuts that can’t be changed.

Keyboard Shortcuts Slack Preferences

Regardless, if you’re running macOS Big Sur, it’s seemingly harder to access keyboard shortcuts on a per-app basis. To do so, you’ll need to head to the “System Preferences –> Keyboard -> Shortcuts” panel.

Keyboard Shortcuts Shortcuts Panel

Here you’ll see a number of sections covering Mac-specific functionality, such as Launchpad, Spotlight, and more.

Keyboard Shortcuts Spotlight Preferences

If you want to add app-specific shortcuts, open the “App Shortcuts” section and click the Plus icon. This will bring up a menu. Here, choose your app, add an explicit name for your shortcut, and execute the key press to confirm the shortcut.

Keyboard Shortcuts Add Shortcut

Once you’ve saved your changes, your new keyboard shortcut should work. Test the functionality but remember to set something that doesn’t override other functional keyboard shortcuts.

Using Hot Corners to Supercharge Your Workflow

Finally, if you find yourself using the Trackpad, yet still need access to some shortcuts, consider Hot Corners. This lets you assign a limited number of actions to each corner of the screen, depending on where the pointer is placed.

To find this option, open “System Preferences” and head to the “Desktop & Screen Saver screen.” Under the “Screen Saver” tab, you’ll find a “Hot Corners … ” button.

Keyboard Shortcuts Hot Corners

Here, choose your desired corner and the action you’ll invoke. For example, you could set one corner to lock the screen and another to bring you back to the Desktop.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to speeding up practically every task on your Mac, keyboard shortcuts should be a go-to solution. To create custom keyboard shortcuts on macOS, you’ll often need to use the dedicated “Keyboard -> Shortcuts” panel in System Preferences. You may also want to check out our macOS keyboard shortcuts cheatsheet to help you remember the shortcuts.

Tom Rankin
Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

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