Creating custom keyboard Shortcuts in Mac OS X.

I love keyboard shortcuts. Anything to keep my hands on the keyboard and away from my trackball (or mouse, as the case may be with you) makes me happy – and more importantly, it speeds things up, especially for repetitive tasks that sometimes do not have keyboard shortcuts.

If you find an application that does not have them, fear not, there is a simple solution:

For the sake of this example, we’ll create a keyboard shortcut for Safari’s “Zoom Text Only” option, found under the View menu.

First, you’ll want to go into System Preferences and open the Keyboard section.

I do this by pressing Command (that’s the key on either side of the space bar) and the space bar. This opens Spotlight, and type “keyboard” in there. One of the top options should be the Keyboard pane of System Preferences. This is how I launch almost all applications. Alternatively, you can click on the Apple logo at the top left of the screen, and pick System Preferences there, or you can look in your Dock to see if it’s there.

Select the Keyboard Shortcut tab if it already isn’t. Now, click the plus sign in the lower middle of the window (arrow) to create a new keyboard shortcut. The minus sign would delete one if it were selected.

Now, a window will appear to let you select which application the new keyboard shortcut will affect.

In this case, we select Safari, and then we enter the menu selection exactly as it appears in the menu: Zoom Text Only.

And then we press the keys (simultaneously) we want to use for that shortcut, in this case, I selected Option + Shift = Comand = Z.

Now that we are finished, we can check in the Safari menu, and we can see our handiwork – without even having to restart Safari or reboot. Notice how the keyboard shortcut now appears in the menu item.

Unfortunately, if you create two shortcuts within an application that use the same key strokes, you won’t be stopped from doing so, and the first listed shortcut will only effect (at least they both don’t work). And yes, I have filed a bug report, as should you (if it matters to you).

Have any questions? Like to see another how-to? Shoot me an email, or tweet at me.