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How to add a keyboard shortcut to any macOS menu item

The Keyboard System Preferences pane in macOS lets you create keyboard shortcuts for menu items that don’t have them by default.

While I use the $36 third-party automation app Keyboard Maestro to do this (and many other tasks), you can add your own keyboard shortcuts for free using nothing more than the Keyboard pane in System Preferences.

Here’s how:

  • Launch System Preferences.
  • Click the Keyboard icon.
  • Click the Shortcuts Tab.
  • Click App Shortcuts.
  • Click the little +.
  • Choose an application from the drop-down Application menu (Microsoft Word in the illustration).
  • Type the menu item’s exact name in the Menu Title field (Word Count…in the illustration).
  • Type the shortcut you wish to use for this item in the Keyboard Shortcut field (Control + W in the illustration).
  • Click the Add button.

Now, when I press Control + W while using Microsoft Word, the Word Count dialog pops open instantly. I’d estimate this is at least twice as fast as reaching for the mouse, pulling down menus looking for the command (it’s in the Tools menu, in case you were wondering), and then selecting Word Count. 

This nugget of info is from my “Working Smarter for Mac Users” newsletter.  You can sign up for free and get free timesaving tips, and more, every week.

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Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!