A bunch of keyboard shortcuts for writing efficiently

by Milind Alvares

A bunch of keyboard shortcuts for writing efficiently

by Milind Alvares on January 29, 2009

The Mac is all about keyboard shortcuts. You can do almost anything on the Mac using just your keyboard. More than that, keyboard shortcuts play a big role when you’re writing or editing text. This is by no means an extensive list, but these shortcuts have definitely helped me save time.


  • Move to start/end of line – Cmd+left/right arrow
  • Move to start/end of paragraph – Opt+up/down arrow

Note that holding down Shift doing any of these action will select the bit that the cursor moves. Even Shift+Left/Right arrow will select text as you go. So for instance holding down Shift while performing any of those shortcuts above will select the text as well.

  • Back-delete current line – Cmd+Shift+Delete (comes in handy when you’re just beginning a story)
  • Forward-delete current line – Cmd+Shift+Right arrow, and then hit delete.
  • Back/forward delete one word at a time – Option+Backspace/Delete.

The general rule of thumb is that Option goes for whole bits like words, paragraphs and such. For instance, Opt+left/right arrow will jump across each word. 

While selecting text with the keyboard is okay for some scenarios, it’s important to remember how to quickly select text using the mouse. 

  • Single click and drag for regular selection.
  • Double-click and drag for selection of whole words. Triple click for paragraphs. 

Once you’ve selected your text, you can move it about like it were a file. Remember to click and hold for half a second before you start dragging. To copy a block of text instead of moving it, hold down the option key while doing so. 

Here’s a nice trick. If you want to delete the rest of your paragraph from where your cursor stands, hit Control+K and it just take it away. To paste it in another place, hit Control+Y! This will not affect your Cmd+C/V clipboard.

sticky-note1Here’s a bonus shortcut for you. If you don’t use any GTD app for managing your tasks, you can instantly create a sticky note by hitting Cmd+Shift+Y, after which any selected text will go to a nice sticky note on your desktop. 

Note that non-native apps like Microsoft Word and the Adobe Creative Suite use their own stupid shortcuts, so beware of that.

That’s it for my keyboard shortcuts. I hope that helps you in some way. The best way to remember them is to actually make it a point to use them once in a while. You can also check out Aayush’s post on typing special characters on the Mac. 

If you have any tasty shortcuts, do share them in the comments. And remember, we regularly post interesting keyboard shortcuts and tips in our twitter feed as well, so do keep an eye out for those.

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