By Mark L. Chambers

Your MacBook’s keyboard might not be very glamorous, but any Macintosh power user will tell you that using keyboard shortcuts is usually the fastest method of performing certain tasks in the Finder, such as saving or closing a file. Commit these shortcuts to memory and put them to work as soon as you begin using your laptop so that they become second nature to you as quickly as possible.

The Finder is chock-full of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to take care of common tasks.

Key Combination Location Action
cmd+A Edit menu Selects all (works in the Finder, too)
cmd+C Edit menu Copies the highlighted item to the Clipboard
cmd+H Application menu Hides the application
cmd+M Window menu Minimizes the active window to the Dock (also works in the
cmd+O File menu Opens an existing document, file, or folder (also works in the
cmd+P File menu Prints the current document
cmd+Q Application menu Exits the application
cmd+V Edit menu Pastes the contents of the Clipboard at the current cursor
cmd+X Edit menu Cuts the highlighted item to the Clipboard
cmd+Z Edit menu Reverses the effect of the last action you took
cmd+? Help menu Displays the Help system (works in the Finder, too)
cmd+Tab Finder Switches between open applications
cmd+Option+M Finder Minimizes all Finder windows to the Dock
cmd+Option+W Finder Closes all Finder windows

But wait, there’s more! Most of your applications also provide their own set of keyboard shortcuts. While you’re working with a new application, display the application’s Help file and print a copy of the keyboard shortcuts as a handy cheat sheet.

If you’ve used a PC before, you’re certainly familiar with three-key shortcuts — the most infamous being Ctrl+Alt+Delete, the beloved shut-down shortcut nicknamed the Windows Three-Finger Salute. Three-key shortcuts work the same way in Mountain Lion. If you’re new to computing, just hold down the first two keys simultaneously and then press the third key.

You’re not limited to just the keyboard shortcuts listed here, either. In System Preferences, visit the Keyboard pane and then click the Keyboard Shortcuts tab to change an existing shortcut or add another!