Useful Mac text-editing shortcuts

On some of my training courses I have been asked by the delegates about shortcuts. Here are some of the of lesser known text editing keyboard shortcuts that I’ve found to be very useful for when working with text.

General 

ctrl + d  – forward delete
ctrl + k 
 – deletes everything to the right of the insertion point to the next new line.
command + delete – like ctrl+k, but reverse.
command + ctrl + d – look up the word under the mouse position in the dictionary.
command-f – Find dialog
command-t – Font dialog
command-g – Go to dialog
command-e – Align Center
command-j – Align Justified
command-l – Align Left
command-r – Align Right

Text Selection

Shift + option (alt) + ⬅ – Select up to beginning of word the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬅ – Select up to beginning of line the insertion-point currently is
Shift + option (alt) + ➡ – Select up to end of word the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ➡ – Select up to end of line the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬆ – Select up to beginning of document from insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬇
– Select up to end of document from insertion-point currently is
option (alt) – changes the cursor to a + , and you can now select columns of text!

Navigation

ctrl + a – Go to the beginning of the line the insertion-point is on.
ctrl + e – Go to the end of the line the insertion-point is on.
option (alt) + ⬅ – Go to beginning of word
option (alt) + ➡ – Go to end of word
command + ⬅ – Go to beginning of the line
command + ➡ – Go to end of the line
command + ⬆ – Go to beginning of document
command + ⬇ – Go to end of document

5 Replies to "Useful Mac text-editing shortcuts"

  • Jayna Sheats

    Thanks; the ctrl a and ctrl e have saved me in Mail. Very recently the Cmd – arrow (right or left)stopped working in the way you describe above (Lion, 7.4; Macbook Air). I have not found any clues online as to why. But I guess this will work!

  • Jayna Sheats

    Thanks, the ctrl – a and ctrl – e commands work as stated on my MacBook Air (Lion, 7.4). Recently the cmd – arrow (right and left) stopped doing anything, and I have found no hints as to how to restore that. In the meantime, this saves the day.

  • Hugo Costa

    Not sure why it isn’t working for you as I just tested in both 10.7.4 and 10.8.1 and it worked fine for me!

    What application are you using it in?

    It might be worth to go to System preferences>Keyboard and see if there is any conflicts with this key combination?

  • Jayna Sheats

    Now I am really confused. Ctrl ➡ and Ctrl ⬅ move the cursor to the end of line and beginning, but Cmd in place of Ctrl does nothing (as noted above). I am quite sure that Cmd + arrow is what I used to use. I don’t know what changed, and there is nothing in Keyboard preferences that appears to relate to this. (Or perhaps I don’t know how to read it properly. But there is nothing there about Mail or text editing.)

    The application in question is Mail; I just tried it in TextEdit and that has the same behavior.

    Option ➡ (and reverse) works as you describe also.

  • Yaritza Baez

    I am so glad I came across this post. I have mac for a year now although I have only used it for six month. I have finally found out how to get to the beginning of a sentence or word using a shortcut.

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