macOS: the Option key

If you’re a productivity geek like me, you like to optimize your workflows in life. And if you’re a computer geek too, then you spent a lot of time typing into your keyboard.

You’re probably proficient at touch typing and can effectively type without having to look at your hands. If you don’t have this base skill, stop right now and save yourself from a world of pain and suffering and start learning to touch type.

If you’re already comfortable with touch typing, you can reach the next level of efficiency with learning how to use a key you’re likely haven’t used in macOS much.

Enter the Option Key

Open a text editor like Notes or your email client and start typing some text and then try these combinations:

  • option-left arrow
  • option-right arrow

What happened?

Now try doing these:

  • Delete one word
  • Select one word
  • What happens when you press option-up arrow or option-down arrow? Hmm? :)

Practice using it

At this point, you may be tempted to go out and learn some other fancy macOS keyboard tricks.

I recommend that you take a breath and refrain from going hog wild with adding other skills right now. Just practice using the option key to navigate around, select, and delete text. Let it become natural like how your touch typing has become natural. You shouldn’t have to think much to execute your intentions with the text you’re working with.

It’s kind of like learning a new chord or a new riff on the guitar: internalize the learning into your muscle memory until learning the next trick or you may find yourself with too many things in your head at once.

Go forth, productivity geek, and use your new option key skills for great good and profit!


Thanks to Muted Circus for the inspiration for this post.



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