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How To: Useful Mac, iPad and iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts and Symbols

How To: Useful Mac, iPad and iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts and Symbols

Apple keyboard
Have you always wanted to know how to type a special character or symbol? How about increasing your productivity on your Mac, iPhone or iPad? The mouse is overrated while the keyboard is your best friend. We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts and special characters that we use on a daily basis. With a little practice, you will have these memorized and be working smarter, not harder. This will be a living, breathing post so bookmark it and check back periodically for updates.

Abbreviations Used in This Guide

  • ⌘ (Command key) – On some Apple keyboards, this key also has an Apple logo ()
  • ⌃ (Control key) – “Ctrl” may also appear on this key
  • ⌥ (Option key) – “Alt” may also appear on this key
  • ⇧ (Shift key)
  • ⇪(Caps Lock) – Toggle Caps Lock on or off
  • fn (Function key)
  • ⇥ (forward tab)
  • ␣ (space bar)

Commonly Used Mac OS Keyboard Shortcuts






⌘⌥ESC FORCE QUIT (very handy when the spinning beach ball appears)








⌘O Open file

⌘N Open new window (great for browsers or Finder)

⌘T Open new browser tab (in a text editor it opens the Fonts window)

⌘, Open preferences

␣ Page down (great for browsing, in Finder it will activate Quick Look)

⇧␣ Page up

⌘␣ Open Spotlight (great for search or use as an application launcher)

hold ⌘ while tapping ⇥ to switch applications

hold ⌘ then press ⇥ once, then tap ` move through application switcher in reverse

⌘+ (plus) Zoom in/increase font size in browser

⌘- (minus) Zoom out/decrease font size in browser

⌥⌘+ (plus) Zoom in (this one is fun)

⌥⌘- (minus) Zoom out

Special Characters

⌥3 £ (British Pound)

⌥⇧2 € (Euro)

⌥4 ¢ (cent)

⌥y ¥ (Japanese Yen, Chinese Yuan)

⌥e then choose letter for acute accent e.g. ó or é or í

⌥u then choose letter for umlaut accent e.g. ö or ü or ë

⌥n then choose letter for tilde accent e.g. ñ or Ñ

⌥c for c-cedilla (ç) e.g. Français

⌥⇧k for Apple symbol: 

⇧⌥8 degree symbol: ° e.g. 25°C

Commonly Used iOS Keyboard Shortcuts

Iphone accented charactersFor iOS keyboard shortcuts, simply press and hold a key to activate the sub-menu, then drag your finger over to the desired special character.

A few useful shortcuts:

  • hold . (period/full stop) to call up shortcuts for .com .net .co.uk etc. then drag to desired option
  • double tap space to insert a . (this must be enabled in the Settings)
  • double tap ⇧ for Caps Lock, tap again to switch off (enable in Settings)

For other special characters, symbols and glyphs such as , ☂, ☺, ✔,  ♫ get the Glyphboard web app. It’s a great tool you can use to add a little ‘character’ to your writing.

If you have any other shortcuts or special characters that you wish to be listed here, let us know in the comments.