Accessibility Keyboard Shortcuts

This appendix lists keyboard shortcuts that are reserved for use with various Universal Access features in OS X.

To turn VoiceOver on or off, use Command-F5.

Table A-1 lists the keyboard shortcuts that are reserved for use with screen zooming in OS X. A user turns on the zoom feature in the Seeing pane of Universal Access preferences.

Table A-1  Key combinations used with screen zooming

Key combination



Turns screen zooming on or off


Zooms in

Option-Command-- (hyphen)

Zooms out


Inverts the screen colors


Reduces contrast


Increases contrast

OS X provides the option of full keyboard access mode, in which users can navigate through windows, dialogs, menus, toolbars, and the Dock using the keyboard alone, without a mouse or other pointing device.

Users can turn on full keyboard access in the Keyboard Shortcuts pane of Keyboard & Mouse preferences. Control-F1 is a reserved keyboard shortcut for turning full keyboard access on or off. Control-F7 toggles between keyboard access for all controls in windows and dialogs and the default state, in which only text fields and scrolling lists are accessed with the keyboard. Don’t use these combinations for any other purpose.

With keyboard access turned on in windows and dialogs, the arrow keys move between values within a control. For example, if the user selects a slider with the Tab key, the arrow keys move the slider control along the slider track. For vertically oriented choices, such as menu items, the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys move the selection. For horizontally oriented choices, such as a row of tabs, the Right Arrow and Left Arrow keys move the selection. In some cases, it makes sense to support both orientations. For example, a vertical slider could use both the Up Arrow and the Right Arrow to increase the value.

In some cases, such as radio buttons, moving the focus to an item selects it as well. In other cases, such as push buttons, the user activates a selected item by pressing the Space bar. In full keyboard access mode, pressing the Space bar is equivalent to clicking the mouse button.

The Esc (Escape) key is used to cancel a dialog and to cancel a selection in a pop-up menu or list. In a Dock menu, Esc dismisses the menu and moves focus to the frontmost window.

The user can also quickly place focus in the menu bar, the Dock, toolbars, and utility windows using key combinations described in Table A-2.

This behavior is provided for all applications that use the standard controls. If you are implementing your own controls, you need to provide these behaviors for your users.

Table A-2 lists the key combinations used in full keyboard access mode.

Table A-2  Key combinations for moving focus in full keyboard access mode

Key combination



Turns full keyboard access on or off


Moves focus to the menu bar


Moves focus to the Dock


Moves focus to the active (or next) window


Moves focus to the previous window


Moves focus to the toolbar


Moves focus to the first (or next) utility window


Moves focus to the previous utility window


Toggles the keyboard access mode in windows and dialogs between all controls and just text fields and scrolling lists


Moves focus to the next grouping of controls in a dialog or the next table (when Tab moves to next cell)


Moves focus to the previous grouping of controls


Moves focus to the first (or next) open application’s Dock icon


Moves focus to the previous open application’s Dock icon

Arrow key

Moves focus to the next or previous value in a text field or certain controls, such as menus; also opens Dock menus

Control–arrow key

Moves focus to another value or cell within a control such as a table

Command-` (grave accent)

Activates the next open window in the frontmost application

Command-Shift-` (grave accent)

Activates the previous open window in the frontmost application

Command-Option-` (grave accent)

Moves focus to the window drawer

Space bar

Selects the highlighted control (equivalent to clicking the mouse button)

Return (Enter)

Selects the default button


Cancels a dialog or a selection in a pop-up menu or list; in a Dock menu, Esc closes the menu and moves the focus to the frontmost window