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How to Change the Keyboard Shortcut for Any Mac Command

David Pogue
Tech Critic
Yahoo Tech

If you really want to personalize OS X Mavericks a bit, try creating your own keyboard shortcuts.

Suppose you love iPhoto (and who doesn’t?). But one thing drives you crazy: The Revert to Original command, which discards all the changes you’ve ever made since taking the photo, has no keyboard shortcut. You must trek up to the menu bar every time you need that command.

This is why OS X lets you add keyboard shortcuts to menu commands that lack them — or change the commands in programs whose key assignments break with tradition. (It works in any program that uses the standard OS X menu software, which rules out older versions of Microsoft Office.) Here’s the routine:

1. Choose System Preferences → Keyboard. Click the Shortcuts tab, and then click Application Shortcuts in the left-side list. You’re shown a list of any keyboard assignments you’ve created so far.

2. Click the + button just beneath the list. The dialog box shown below appears.

The next time you open the program you edited, you’ll see that the new keystroke is in place.

3. Indicate which program needs behavior modification. In this example, you’d choose iPhoto from the Application pop-up menu. (If the program’s name doesn’t appear in the pop-up menu, then choose Other; navigate to, and double-click, the program you want.)

4. Carefully type in the name of the menu command whose keyboard shortcut you want to change or add. Type it exactly as it appears in the menu, complete with capitalization and the little ellipsis (…) that may follow it. (You make the ellipsis character by pressing Option-semicolon.)

5. Click in the Keyboard Shortcut box. Press the new or revised key combo you want. For example, press Control-R for iPhoto’s Revert to Original command. You’ll see the Mac’s notation of your keystroke appear in the Keyboard Shortcut box — unless, of course, the combo you selected is already in use within that program. In that case, you hear only an error sound that means “Try again.”

6. Click Add. The dialog box closes. By scrolling down in your Keyboard Shortcuts list, you see that the keystroke you selected has now been written down for posterity under the appropriate program’s flippy triangle. (To get rid of it, click its name and then click the button beneath the list.)

Excerpted with permission from David Pogue’s “OS X Mavericks: The Missing Manual” from O’Reilly Media.