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Macintosh Finder Shortcuts

This is an old, old article, and it pertains to the old-fashioned Mac OS; I don't know how many of these commands are still relevant in OS X.

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts and built into the Macintosh Finder. Ever forget which keys to press to rebuild the desktop? Ever forget which key to click if you want to drag a copy of a file, and not move the original? Ever forget your anniversary? Can't help you with the last one, but for the other stuff, here is a short list of Mac Finder shortcuts and basic Mac tips. All of these should work with System 7 or later; some will also work with System 6. Most of these were pulled from a list of Mac tips by Joseph Schorr in the August 1994 issue of MacUser. See? There's a good reason to keep all of those old magazines.

1. Rebuild the desktop
Press the command and option keys during startup.

2. Start with Extensions off
Press the shift key during startup.

3. Drag a copy of a file
Press the Option key while dragging.

4. Duplicate a selected item or items
Command D.

5. Make an alias
Command M.

6. Drag an alias of a file
Press Command and Option while dragging.

7. Close the front window
Press command and W.

8. Close all open windows
Command option W.

9. Open a file, folder, or disk
Command O (That's a letter O, not a zero).

10. Open a new folder and close the previous one
Press the option key and double-click on the folder icon.

11. Navigate through the hierarchy of folders
Hold down the Command key and click on the title bar of a window. A list appears, showing each folder and subfolder containing the currently open window.

12. Throw away a locked item
Hold down the Option key while emptying the trash.

13. Eject a disk without leaving its icon on the desktop
Highlight the icon and press Command Y. Command E will also work on System 8 and later, but on older Macs using Command E would eject the disk but leave its icon on the desktop. That behavior was a holdover from the days when many computers didn't have hard disks; it was assumed that you would be doing all of your work on floppies, and chances were good that you would be re-inserting the disk you had just removed.

Looking for a good site for Macintosh tips, tricks, and tune-ups? Try Macfixit.com.