Essential Mac OS X Lion Shortcuts That You Really Need To Know About

With Lion Apple has brought some great new features to the Mac. In this post I have put together some of the most essential new keyboard shortcuts that I think make using Lion so much easier and fun to use.

Full screen view

Lion brought Full Screen view to most apps to give you a clutter free working environment. Entering full screen mode will create a ‘space’ in Mission Control for each window you put into full screen.

Lion Full Screen Icon

To enter full screen view in any app that supports this feature hit ctrl, cmd and F

ctrl cmd F

Accents Menu

The english language doesn’t really include any accented words but other languages do, Unfortunately Mac OS X has never really made it easy to accent a letter before but Lion has simplified it, Now accenting a letter is easy with this simple shortcut.

Accents menu MacOS Lion

To access the accents menu in any app place your cursor over the text then hold down the letter key you want to accent and the accent menu bubble will appear above the letter, Where you can choose from the accent options available for that letter.

Dictionary QuickLook Preview

Looking up a word in dictionary has never been so easy, With QuickLook in Lion you don’t even have to open up the Dictionary app.

Quick look dictionary MacOS Lion

To view the QuickLook preview of a word in dictionary highlight a word in any app and hit ctrl, cmd and D

Control command D

Mission Control

Mission control merged some of the best features of Mac OS X. With this merge comes some new shortcuts to make it really quick and easy to navigate your open windows on the Mac.

Mission Control

To Enter Mission Control hit F3 or ctrl and the up arrow key.
F3 control + up

To move between Spaces and Full Screen apps from the Desktop and in Mission Control hit ctrl and the back and forward arrow keys
Control + Left / Right

To enter Mission Control ‘current app view’ hit ctrl and F3
Control + F3

To move between apps in Mission Control \current app view’ hit ctrl and F3 then hit shift
Control + F3 then Shift

To QuickLook a window in Mission Control just hover you mouse over a window then hit the space bar

Reading List

Reading List in Safari was introduced by Apple to make it easy to bookmark links to ‘read later’ these shortcuts will make adding content to your reading list a snap.

Reading List Icon

To add the current page in safari to your reading list hit cmd, shift and D
Command Shift + D

To add any link on a webpage in safari to your reading list hold down shift and click on the link you want to add to your reading list.
Shift + Link

To view your reading list in safari hit cmd, shift and L.
Command Shift + L


By default Launchpad is not assigned a keyboard shortcut in Lion, Apple has favored using gestures to enter and exit launchpad. Using a trackpad to enter Launchpad you just pinch with your thumb and three fingers and to exit just spread your thumb and three fingers.

Launch Pad

But you can assign a keyboard shortcut, By following these steps.
keyboard preferences panel icon

Open System Preferences

Go to the Keyboard preference pane then click on ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’
In the left hand column choose ‘Launchpad & Dock’
Then in the right hand column you will see two options, Choose ‘Show Launchpad’

Shortcut Input

Now to assign a shortcut:
Next to ‘Show Launchpad’ you will see an empty space, Click in this empty space and a text box will appear now simply type the shortcut you want to use.


Emoji has been on the iPhone and iPad for a while now and with Lion Apple has brought it over to the Mac in the form of a new Font called ‘Apple Color Emoji’ But you can’t actually use emoji without opening and using the Special Characters picker in Mac OS X.
To access the Special Characters Picker you first have to enable it.

You can do this by following these steps.

Open System Preferences

Go to the Keyboard preference pane then click on the‘ Keyboard’ Tab
You will see an option at the bottom called ‘Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar’ make sure the box next to this option is checked.

Show Character Viewer

You will then see this icon  appear in the Menu Bar
Character Viewer Menu Bar

From here you can click on ‘Show Character Viewer’
Once the Character Viewer have opened you will find Emoji in the left hand column.

Emoji Character Viewer

Other Useful Tips

Library Folder

Enable User Library Folder

By default Mac OS X Lion hides the user Library folder from view in Finder. Here is a really easy way to get it back.
Open ‘Terminal’ and type the following command
chflags nohidden ~/Library
Then press enter
(You can also find your user Library folder in the Go menu in Finder by clicking on Go in the menu bar and hitting the option key ‘Library’ will then appear in the list)

Before you go

After spending over 20 years working with Macs, both old and new, theres a tool I think would be useful to every Mac owner who is experiencing performance issues.

CleanMyMac is highest rated all-round cleaning app for the Mac, it can quickly diagnose and solve a whole plethora of common (but sometimes tedious to fix) issues at the click of a button. It also just happens to resolve many of the issues covered in the speed up section of this site, so Download CleanMyMac to get your Mac back up to speed today.


About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded blurtit.com which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

You can also follow me on: and


Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Thank you for the tips… keyboard characters and Library. Apple tech support mentioned Go but not the Terminal command.

  • Seems that the first command you list is incorrect. At leas on my mac control command F does nothing. However Shift Command F does invoke full screen.

  • Hasn’t made it easy to add an accent? Since when? It’s been WORLDS easier than on Windows for decades now. Granted, this is handy, but option-E + E for an accented e is not tough.

  • At least for German OS X always had a great way of getting the Umlaute. Press option+u and then the letter you want with the Umlaute.

    Still, thanks for another way of getting me my umlauts 🙂

  • “Unfortunately Mac OS X has never really made it easy to accent a letter before”

    What the fuck are you talking about? option+e/i/o etc has always made it simple. Easier than any other OS.

  • on leopard i had to press the “command space” to change language. what is the shortcut for lion?

  • How do I create a desktop ICON and associate it with a url?

    In windows, it is a simple matter to associate a hyperlink with a shortcut Icon.

    I do not want to use keyboard shortcuts, but will if necessary.



  • Hi Bill,

    To add a shortcut just select and drag the url from the Safari address bar to the desktop.

    Hope that helps

  • A vertical swipe up with three fingers pressed on the trackpad will move your current view into Mission Control.
    A vertical swipe down brings returns the window down into the main view, and left and right will slide between dashboard panes.

    This is easiest to do if you move your whole arm before you make this gesture, without too much strain with the wrist.

  • About the accented letters thing, actually most diacritics were easy to do on every OSX before lion. All you had to do was hold down the alt key and press the letter key. N for a spanish tilde, U for a German umlaüt, E for a grave accent, A for an acute accent, I for a French carot. If you’re typing a non-latin script such as Japanese or Devangari that makes constant use of all modifier keys, alt had the same use. You also had something like 110 other symbols like ∫ and ∞ that were accessible through the alt and shift modifiers. Windows, even the “ultimate” version that costs the price of a small econo-tower pc, still doesn’t have that level of accessibility. Windows users have to buy a separate app to translate unicode into text for that.

  • As an AVID Mac fan,it pains me greatly to see that Windows 7 KILLS OS X, even Lion, at working with international characters. C’mon Apple! Dammit! You can do better than this “hover over the text and hold down the character your want to accent” garbage….

  • I withdraw my earlier comment!! This post spoke of having to highlight the characters with the mouse and then hold down the key. All you really have to do is hold down the key and the international menu pops up. Hooray!! Apple takes the lead 🙂