Command key tricks for OS X

The Mac command key, sitting alongside the spacebar and containing that funky looking icon logo, is commonly used for initiating keyboard shortcuts throughout OS X. But that command key also has some nice usability tricks up its sleeve that are lesser known and underutilized, many of which can help with your general workflow throughout OS X and the Finder. Here are five particularly handy tips that use the command key.

1: Open Sidebar Items in a New Window with Command+Click

Hold down the Command key and click on any sidebar shortcut item within the Finder Sidebar to open it within it’s own new window.

Open Finder sidebar items in a new window

This works with any sidebar item, whether it’s under Favorites, Shared, or Devices, and is extremely useful when you need to copy or move files around within the File system. It’s also much faster than opening a new window and then navigating around to locations.

2: Move Windows in the Background with Command+Drag

Need to reveal something in the background, but don’t want to lose the focus of your primary window or app? No problem, just hold down the Command key and drag the background windows titlebar… you’ll be able to move the window around without changing focus, and without interfering with whatevers going on in the foreground.

Hold down the command key to drag background windows without losing focus of the foreground

This is little-known trick that has been around for a while, and it’s surprisingly useful.

3: Reveal a Dock Item in the Finder with Command+Click

Wondering where that Dock item is stored in the OS X Finder? Just Command+Click to find out, you’ll instantly jump to the items respective location within Mac OS X.

Jump a Dock items location with Command clicking

This includes apps, folders, documents – whatever is stored within the OS X Dock if you hold down the Command key while clicking it, it will jump to it’s respective location in the Finder.

4: Open a Spotlight Result in Finder with Command+Return

Similar to the Dock tip, if you hold down the Command key when selecting something from the Spotlight menu it will instantly jump to that files location in the Finder, rather than launching the file/app.

Open Spotlight search results in the Finder

This makes for a great quick workflow to instantly locate files for modifications: hit Command+Spacebar, search for your item, and hit Command+Return to open the Finder window containing the document in question.

5: Selecting Files That Aren’t Next To Each Other

Holding down the Command key lets you select files that are not next to each other. We covered this one recently in a thorough walkthrough on the various ways of selecting multiple files within Finder, but it’s worth repeating since it’s an overlooked feature that should get more use.

Select files that are not alongside one another with a Command click

You can also use this one in reverse to unselect files too.

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