CMD TAB

Switch between Applications as quick as a flash using your keyboard, hold down CMD ⌘ and press TAB ⇥ once

This post is specifically for Mac Users

I repeat … hold down CMD ⌘ and press TAB ⇥ once

Its one of the best keyboard shortcuts, second only to COPY and PASTE. Use it more often and you’ll be much more productive, never again will you have to move windows around to get to the one behind or shrink a window to the dock or quit an Application just to get it out the way.

CMD ⌘ and H is the best friend of CMD ⌘ and TAB ⇥. It hides the current Application and all it’s windows.

Just these two keyboard shortcuts will help you navigate your computer quickly and easily and give you more time to think about the problem. In this way, you can hop between Excel, iTunes, Mail, Safari, Pages, Photoshop*, iMessage, iPhoto, Skype & even Windows 7, or any other running Application. Press CMD ⌘ and H to hide an Application and switch control to the one behind it, press them again and again until everything is hidden, except the last one which you cannot hide.

Try it out now!

Press CMD ⌘ on your keyboard, keep your finger or thumb on it

(you might want to read the next bit before proceeding)

Now press the TAB ⇥ key once but keep your finger or thumb on CMD ⌘

A horizontal row of icons appears of all the applications that are currently running on your computer. One of the icons is highlighted with a white border and the name of the application below it.

  • Take your finger off the CMD ⌘ key and the highlighted application will be brought to the front and these instructions will be hidden behind the window
  • Or press TAB ⇥ again (with your finger still on CMD ⌘) to move to the next icon in the row, and again and again to loop around.

Go ahead, try it now for free.

Used in conjunction with CMD ⌘ and H (to hide the current Application and all its windows) these two simple shortcuts will improve your computer navigation skills and help make your computer work for you.

This is quite old-school now, it feels like a Microsoft sort of thing and I suspect its inclusion some years ago was in part due to Windows XP or even earlier. The traditional keyboard is being ousted as an input device as operating systems move towards touch-screen input. LaunchPad and Mission Control are graphical extensions of this simple concept, but it is worth understanding the purpose of the TAB key before it is relegated to a button on the side of the touch-screen device or forgotten completely.

There are plenty of other keyboard shortcuts for beginners and professionals to remember, there’s even some on a Blackberry keyboard. This must be a huge stumbling block for operating system developers; it is quicker to COPY using a mouse and keyboard than it is with a mobile device. Voice activated control is getting better but lacks user confidence and trust. The keyboard is here for a while longer, so learn these shortcuts and you’ll appear like you know what you are doing, even if you don’t.

Extreme Pro-Tip 1 : press BACKTAB (SHIFT ⇧ and TAB ⇥) to move between Applications in the other direction.

Extreme Pro-Tip 2 : press Q to quit the highlighted Application.

* Adobe Photoshop and some other applications reserve the use of CMD H for other shortcuts within the application. You can reassign them in Photoshop using Edit / Keyboard Shortcuts.

Download a PDF of Apple Shortcuts

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