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Create a Keyboard Shortcut for any Menu Item


Keyboard shortcuts are an integral part of Mac OS X, but you may have noticed that not every menu item has one. This can pose a real problem for those of us who like to work fast and efficiently. To access menu items that don't have shortcuts, you'll have to use the mouse - a big annoyance that'll slow you down!

Fortunately, Mac OS X allows you to assign a keyboard shortcut to a menu item that doesn't have one. This tutorial shows you how. You can also use these instructions to modify an existing shortcut. It's a little trick that can make your life that much easier.

The Problem

Let's look at an example. I recently purchased Coda 2, an application that you can use to write code and develop websites. It's a great application packed with features. Unfortunately, one of those features, Copy with Styles, does not have a keyboard shortcut assigned, as shown below.

We know that it doesn't have a keyboard shortcut assigned, because if it did, it would be listed next to the item. This is a problem for me personally, because I use this feature frequently and I'd like to invoke it with a keyboard shortcut.

The Solution

Mac OS X allows you to add keyboard shortcuts to menu items that don't have any assigned shortcuts. After I create a shortcut for the Copy with Styles feature, it appears in the Edit menu, as shown below.

Now I can press Command-Shift-C to copy with styles! This is just one example of how you can add or customize keyboard shortcuts for any menu item. The trick works in any application, for any menu item.

How to Create a Keyboard Shortcut on Your Mac

Creating your own keyboard shortcut for a menu item is easy and takes only a couple minutes. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the application with the menu item you want to map to a custom keyboard shortcut. Write down the name of the menu item or memorize it. You'll need to enter it later, exactly as it appears in the menu.

  2. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  3. Select Keyboard, as shown below.

  4. Click the Keyboard Shortcuts button.

  5. From the sidebar, select Application Shortcuts. The window shown below appears.

  6. Click the + button to add a new keyboard shortcut. The window shown below appears.

  7. From the Application menu, select the application with the menu item you want to map to a custom keyboard shortcut. If you'd like to make a universal shortcut that works in all applications, select All Applications.

  8. In the Menu Title field, enter the name of the menu item exactly as it appears in the menu.

  9. Click the Keyboard Shortcut box and press the key combination that you want to use as the shortcut.

  10. Click Add.

  11. Close System Preferences.

  12. Quit the application with the menu item, and then reopen it.

Congratulations! You have created your own custom keyboard shortcut. You can now use the keyboard shortcut to access the application's menu item.

Meet Your Macinstructor

Matt Cone, the author of Master Your Mac, has been a Mac user for over 20 years. A former ghost writer for some of Apple's most notable instructors, Cone founded Macinstruct in 1999, a site with OS X tutorials that boasts hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per month. You can email him at: matt@macinstruct.com.


 
                          





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