Hail The Option Key!

As power users, we love the Option key. :sparkling_heart:

We love the little graphic representing “two roads diverged in a wood”.

We love holding it late at night, clicking on random things to see what magic may happen.

And perhaps most of all, we love showing regular people how much unnecessary information they can see about their Wi-Fi networks.

…What are some of everybody’s favorite lesser-known Option key tips & tricks? Here are some of mine:

  • Select multiple items in Finder > Opt + Cmd + I = “Show Inspector” — This lets you see useful things such as the combined file size of all selected items — I just used this in combination with Smart Folder searching to quickly see how much space all my RAW image files were taking on my internal SSD.

  • Select item(s) in Finder > Opt + Cmd + C = “Copy files as pathnames” — I don’t really know what to do with this personally, but seems powerful lol…

  • In a text field (I use this in TextEdit), Opt + Click & Drag = Marquee selection of text. — This is a little finnicky, but I find it most useful if you are copying and pasting lists from places and have a series of lines starting with 1. ____, 2. ____, etc. so that you can easily select the items in the list without the 1. / 2.

  • In some applications, Opt + Cmd + Q = “Quit and Keep Windows” — Another thing I use in TextEdit and Safari often; Normally, if you have a document open in TextEdit and you quit the program, when you open TextEdit again it won’t open that document. When you “Quit and Keep Windows” it will launch next time with all the windows you had open when you last quit the application. In Safari, if you have three tabs open and use “Quit and Keep Windows” to close the program, when you open it next it will launch with those three tabs again. Sure, you can just hide the programs if you don’t want them in your workspace, or move them around, but it can be nice to quit them this way so you can free up some RAM without “losing your place”…

  • Hold the Option key and click the Notification Center icon on the far-right of the menu bar to put your Mac into Do Not Disturb mode. You know when it works because the normally-white icon will turn grey.

  • If you’re going to the About This Mac menu through the Apple icon in the Menu Bar, you can hold Option before you click to jump right into the System Information panel, rather than opening About This Mac and then clicking the inconsistently named “System Report” button.

  • And of course, in the Displays tab of the Displays panel in System Preferences, if you hold Option and click “Scaled” you can choose from a list of actual resolutions to set your monitor to. I don’t use this much, but sometimes when I’m feeling down I’ll go in there and set my 5K iMac to the true 5K resolution and smirk maniacally at all that beautiful real estate.


The one I use most is option + arrows while editing text.

Option + arrow right or left jumps by word
Option + arrow up or down jumps by paragraph

Hold down shift at the same time and you’ll select.

(Command is also great for this: Command right and left goes to the start or end of a line, Command up and down go to the start and end of a text field)

  • In Finder, select a folder (or any number of folders) > Opt + Right Arrow = Expand all selected folders and all subfolders. (Opt + Left Arrow to collapse them) — This is useful when you have some messy folder situations, just hit Cmd + A to select all files and folders and then Opt + Left Arrow to collapse everything down to its tidiest form.
  • Opt + Click & Drag Window Resizing = Resizing window from the center. Holding Shift while doing this locks the proportions. (This works identically to manipulating objects in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.)

  • Holding Option and clicking the “Full Screen Mode” button in the top left of windows (the right-most of the ‘three dots’ buttons) gives you a true “Maximize Window” rather than the pesky Full Screening. (Hovering over the button gives you the additional choices of moving the window to the left or right 50% of the screen… But if you’re an Option pusher, you really shouldn’t be clicking around to manage your windows!)

Found a new one today…

  • In Quick Look or Preview, holding the Option key changes the direction of the “Rotate” button in the toolbar from counter-clockwise to clockwise.