There are many ways to customize your macOS environment to suit your personal tastes. However, not every preference you want to change can be modified using System Preferences or Application Preferences. Often, settings are deemed too obscure for everyday users and relegated to complex keystrokes or hidden system settings. This is my guide to a number of these that can make your life a little easier, or your experience a little better.

macOS Keystroke Shortcuts

I’ll start with a series of keystrokes that are available in different contexts while you use your Macintosh. These are not your normal keystrokes that are self-documented underneath application menus, these are hidden gems you’ll want to become familiar with:

Start-up Keystrokes (hold at power-on):

CStarts up from CD
DStarts up from the hard disk’s first partition
NStarts up from the network server
NStarts up from the network server
TPuts the Mac into Firewire Target Disk Mode
XStarts up in macOS (if OS9 is on the same disk)
SHIFTPrevents start-up items from opening
OPTIONShows icons of all start-up disks or partitions and allows you to select one
Apple-Option-Shift-DeleteStarts up from an external drive (or CD)
Apple-VShows all console messages during boot
Hold Mouse Button DownEjects a stuck CD or DVD
### Finder Keystrokes:
Apple-Option-WCloses all Finder windows
Apple-Up ArrowOpens the parent folder
Apple-Option-Shift-Up ArrowSelects next item alphabetically
TabSelects next item alphabetically
Shift-TabSelects previous item alphabetically
Apple-Shift-HOpens your Home folder
Apple-Shift-AOpens your Applications folder
Option-Click “Green Ball”Minimizes all Finder windows
### General Keystrokes:
Apple-TabSwitches to the next open program – press once and releasethe Apple key to switch to the program you used most recently
Apple-Shift-TabSwitches to the previous open program
Apple-tildeSwitches to the next open window in this prog.
option-Empty TrashEmpties the Trash without asking, “Are you sure”
Apple-option-DHides/shows the Dock
Apple-click on Dock iconReveals the original item in the Finder
Apple-option-click on Dock iconSwitches to this program and hides all others
Apple-option-HHides all windows except the one you’re in
### On Keyboards w/o Power Key:
control-ejectBrings up the dialog box for shutdown/sleep/rs
Apple-control-ejectForces a restart
Apple-option-ejectPuts the Mac to sleep
Apple-control-option-ejectShuts down.
### Rob’s Additions:
Command-click Directory name in a file browserBrings up filesystem directory path where you can select any Parent directory
option-click Dock iconIf done on current app, hides app. If done on different app, brings forward, and hides other applications
option-click desktopHides current application
## macOS Terminal Defaults for Finder

There are a large number of system settings that can only be used by running the Terminal application and then typing them at the command line. A large database of them can be found at They have also created a Preference Pane that can be used for changing these defaults, which you can download here.

Generic macOS Tricks

Disable the Dashboard (NO reverses):
defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

Allow Widgets to stay on Desktop (NO reverses):
defaults write devmode YES

Make Hidden Dock Icons Transparent (NO reverses):
defaults write showhidden -boolean YES
killall Dock

Disable “wake on open” (you’ll need to press a key now) (1 reverses):
sudo pmset -a lidwake 0

To disable safe sleep (3 and true, respectively, reverses):

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0<br></br>
sudo nvram "use-nvramrc?"=false

Repair Permissions (for Yosemite and El Capitan):
sudo /usr/libexec/repair_packages --repair --standard-pkgs --volume /

Rebuild the Launch Services Database (if preferences for Default Applications are not sticking):
/System/k/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -seed

macOS Terminal Defaults for

Disable in-line Attachment Viewing (false reverses):
defaults write DisableInlineAttachmentViewing -bool true

Sierra Issues

After upgrading to Sierra, SSH always prompts for the SSH Passphrase:
ssh-add -K ~/.ssh/id_rsa