Matt Bailey
Designer & Developer

Speed-Up Your OS X Workflow With a Few Simple Keyboard Shortcuts


I’m not one for making New Year resolutions, but I’ve started something that just happens to have coincided with that wonderful time of the year when good intentions rule (and mostly fail).

In fact this isn’t really the start, but more the continuation of something that’s been happening to me over the past year or so, and that’s the streamlining and speeding-up of my OS X workflow.

I grew up using the mouse, I learned to design using the mouse, so learning to type stuff (largely thanks to the command line and code editors) has been an, at times, painful process. However, I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly ignoring the mouse in favour of keyboard shortcuts.

Quick App Opening

To that end I’ve taken the ‘bold’ step to remove all applications from the dock.


(This is my dock now)

To open an app type cmd + space, which opens Spotlight in the top right of your screen. Start typing the name of the app and, usually after entering a couple of characters, it will appear at the top of the list - open it by hitting enter. This takes a split second to do and certainly beats grabbing the mouse and hunting around the dock for the app in question.


Below are some of my other favourite OS X ‘speed-up’ techniques:

Speedy App Switching

I’m sure most of you know this one already, but I’m going to include it for completeness. To quickly switch between apps simply hit cmd + tab.


Switch Between Spaces Like a Pro

I use Spaces a lot now, they’re super useful. I can have one Space for Gmail, Tweetbot, Harvest app etc., another for Photoshop or Sketch, another for Sublime Text or PHPStorm, and so on.

Switching between spaces is fantastically easy and rather satisfying - I like watching each Space zip by! Type ctrl + [left cursor] or ctrl + [right cursor] to go left or right.


NOTE: If the shortcuts above don’t work then you probably need to turn them on. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control and make sure “Move left a space” and “Move right a space” are ticked.

Fast Tab Switching in Chrome

Most apps use tabs these days and Chrome is no exception. I often have quite a few tabs open, but switching between them is as easy as hitting alt + cmd + [left cursor] or alt + cmd + [right cursor].


I’m sure there are loads more, but these are the ones I use the most. Let me know if you have any other ‘speed-up’ tips you couldn’t live without.