The power of the custom keyboard shortcut

Here’s how to make a shortcut for any command.

Command-C to copy. Command-V to paste. Or the ever-useful Command-Tab to switch among apps. Every power user has a favourite keyboard shortcut. But did you know you can create one for any menu item in your favourite apps?

You’ve got two choices here: create an application-specific shortcut or one that works across all apps. Here’s how to do both:

Create a shortcut for an app

For this example, we’ll create a Photos app shortcut to flip an image horizontally. Normally you’d have to choose Image > Flip Horizontal, but with a few clicks you’ll be able to pull it off by pressing Command-Shift-H.

Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. Select App Shortcuts on the left, then click + to add a new shortcut.

Creating your own shortcut is as easy as entering the menu-command name and choosing a key combination.

Choose Photos from the Application pop-up menu, and in the Menu Title field enter “Flip Horizontal”. (The text you enter here must match the name of the command as it appears in the menu, including any punctuation.)

Then in the Keyboard Shortcut field, enter a combo that includes a modifier key: Command, Option, Shift or Control. It helps to pick a combo that reminds you of the action (we went with Command-Shift-H, for “horizontal”). And be sure not to pick a shortcut already used in the app. Finally, click Add, and enjoy your new shortcut!

Create a system-wide shortcut

You can also create a shortcut that works across all apps. A great candidate is the Save as PDF command, tucked away in the PDF pop-up menu of the Print dialogue.

The process here is the same as above, but you’ll select “All Applications” from the Application pop-up menu. In the Menu Title field, enter “Save as PDF”, then set a keyboard shortcut.

The Print dialogue’s Save as PDF command is handy but hidden. Make it easier to use with a keyboard shortcut.

We chose Command-P – and we know what you’re thinking: that’s the system-wide shortcut for Print! But because Save as PDF appears only within the Print dialogue, the two shortcuts will never conflict: just press Command-P twice – the first one brings up the Print dialogue, the second launches the Save as PDF screen. How much easier could it get?