Keyboard Shortcut

A keyboard shortcut is a combination of keyboard keys that, when pressed simultaneously, performs a specific command. A shortcut typically combines one or more modifier keys with another key. Many keyboard shortcuts are universal across all apps on a platform, like Control + S to save a file on Windows or Command + S to save on macOS. Using a keyboard shortcut to perform a command can save you significant time since you don't need to navigate through an app's menus and dialog boxes.

Most common keyboard shortcuts combine one modifier key and one other key, typically a letter, number, or punctuation symbol. In some cases, adding a second or third modifier key to a keyboard shortcut changes it to perform a similar function. For example, in macOS, pressing Command + S saves a file, while adding the Shift key to that shortcut opens the Save As dialog box instead.

In addition to the universal set of shortcuts, most applications also include a unique set of keyboard shortcuts. You can find many of an app's keyboard shortcuts by opening menus in the app's menu bar. If a command has a keyboard shortcut assigned to it, that shortcut will appear next to the command's name.

In many cases, the same keyboard shortcut triggered in different apps will perform different commands, so it's wise to consult menus or other documentation before using a new shortcut. For example, on macOS, pressing Command + D in Safari creates a bookmark of the current page, while that same shortcut in Microsoft Word instead opens the Font properties dialog box.

To view a list of the most common keyboard shortcuts in macOS and Windows, view the pages below:

macOS Keyboard Shortcuts | Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Updated October 17, 2023 by Brian P.

quizTest Your Knowledge

What is a read-only document used as a starting point for new documents called?

Correct! Incorrect!     View the Template definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Keyboard Shortcut on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.