How to add a keyboard shortcut to any Mac app menu command

By , Sep 10, 2012

Don’t you just hate it when one of your favorite Mac apps is missing an obvious keyboard shortcut for an often used menu command? I recently ran into that issue with Pixelmator.

I made the switch to Pixelmator, because it is one of the few decent image editing apps that features support for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Normally I’m a CS5 user, but since Adobe’s suite lacks Retina support, I felt compelled to make the switch.

Although I don’t find Pixelmator to be as intuitive as Photoshop, making the switch hasn’t been all that bad. It’s snappy, features a bevy of options, and best of all, it looks gorgeous on the Retina Display. If I had to pick a flaw, I’d say that one of the most glaring miscues is the lack of a dedicated keyboard shortcut for exporting your work. Fortunately that can be remedied with a quick trip to System Preferences…

The great thing about creating custom keyboard shortcuts, is that it doesn’t just work with Pixelmator; it can work with any app. Simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Open an Application, and find the menu command you’d like to create a shortcut for, notating its exact name.

Step 2: Open System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts.

Step 3: Select Application Shortcuts from the left-hand column, and click the + sign near the bottom of the right window.

Step 4: A window will appear with Application, Menu Title, and Keyboard Shortcut. Fill all of those items in, making sure that you type the Menu Title exactly how it appears in the Application that you selected from the drop down menu.

Step 5: Click Add, open the Application in question, and try out your newly created keyboard shortcut. You should see the shortcut that you created next to the name of the menu item as well.

Again, this works for any application in question, not just Pixelmator. This isn’t exactly a new trick, but it’s one that’s easy to forget, and extremely helpful for apps that feature obvious keyboard shortcut omissions. What say you?

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  • http://twitter.com/Zach_Krase Zach Krase

    didn’t know that existed and I have had a Mac for four years! thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/sjakubiec Stephen Jakubiec

    Pixelmator has an export shortcut, it’s command + shift + e which prompts the “export for web” (Share menu is where this is found) in the document itself. Though that’s handy if you want to go through the dialog boxes of saving instead of within the document window itself.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      That’s true. Perhaps I should have noted that, but I just wanted a traditional export option.

  • http://twitter.com/pokeh123 Shawn Davis

    Been using Macs for awhile…. And I didn’t know about this?!

    So glad I found out though!