How to set a keyboard app shortcut on macOS (along with submenus)

Ever since switching to Macs, keyboard app shortcuts are something I’ve started to take advantage of whenever I can. They help improve my productivity and overall experience when bouncing between different apps. Many don’t realize you can map pretty much any available menu to any key combination you want, all using built-in macOS options.

Today I’ll quickly show you how to set a keyboard app shortcut and what to do if there are submenus involved.

How to set a keyboard app shortcut (basic)

First, I’ll walk you through how to set up a basic keyboard app shortcut.

Step 1

Click on the “Apple icon → System Preferences… → Keyboard → Shortcuts.”

Step 2

Click on “App Shortcuts” and then on the + symbol to add a new keyboard shortcut.

Add keyboard app shortcut
Add keyboard app shortcut

Step 3

Choose your Application from the dropdown. This specifies where you want the keyboard shortcut to work. Then enter the exact menu title field and set the keyboard shortcut. When you’re done, click “Add.”

In my example, I’m using Mailplane, which is a Gmail client. They had an option to paste and match the style. I use this shortcut key a lot when pasting links or rich text into emails that I went to strip down to just plain text.

Paste and Match Style
Paste and Match Style

How to set a keyboard app shortcut with submenus

Next, I’ll walk you through how to set up a keyboard app shortcut when there is a submenu involved. All it takes is a little formatting trick to configure keyboard shortcuts anywhere in a submenu.

Step 1

Click on the “Apple icon → System Preferences… → Keyboard → Shortcuts.”

Step 2

Click on “App Shortcuts” and then on the + symbol to add a new keyboard shortcut.

Add keyboard app shortcut
Add keyboard app shortcut

Step 3

Choose your Application from the dropdown. This specifies where you want the keyboard shortcut to work. Then enter the exact menu title field.

Add keyboard app shortcut
Add keyboard app shortcut

The trick here is that you have to tweak the formatting due to it being in a submenu (as seen below). You have to add -> without any spaces in-between the menu title fields.

Edit->Paste From->Rich Text
Add keyboard app shortcut with submenu
Add keyboard app shortcut with submenu

Set the keyboard shortcut and click “Add.”

Summary

Now you know a couple of ways to add a keyboard app shortcut on macOS. Hopefully, that helps you stay more productive when bouncing around different applications.

If you have any other keyboard app shortcut tips, feel free to drop them below in the comments

Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on Twitter or subscribe to my newsletter (twice a month, no spam).

Leave a Comment