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The Best Shortcuts On Mac: Snap Windows, Text to Speech, and More

These shortcuts can help you work smarter on macOS.

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A screenshot of shortcuts on Mac
Shortcuts have arrived on macOS.
Screenshot: Shortcuts

The iPhone got access to Shortcuts way back in iOS 12, giving you ways of combining different apps and tasks together to get stuff done—from calculating journey times and texting someone the details at the same time, to resizing and converting a whole batch of images at once. What you might not know is that, since the Monterey release, Shortcuts has been available on the Mac too.

That opens up a whole new set of possibilities for your automations, and to give you an idea of what’s possible, we’ve pulled together seven of our favorite shortcuts for macOS. Several come with macOS itself, and you can find plenty more on the web, as well as create your own—launch the Shortcuts app from Finder or Spotlight, click All Shortcuts, and then select the New Shortcut button (the plus icon) at the top.

Note that your shortcuts will sync across your devices—iPhones, iPads and Macs—by default. To make sure this feature is enabled on macOS, with Shortcuts open, select Shortcuts, Preferences and General, then check the iCloud Sync box. You can change where shortcuts can be accessed and launched from by opening them up and switching to the Shortcut Details tab on the right.

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1) Zip up files and email them

So you’ve got a few files you need to send to a contact, but how do you go about it? You could take the conventional route by opening up Mail, finding the attachment feature and picking your files from the disk, but there’s a Shortcut that can speed the process up.

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From the Gallery screen, search for and install a shortcut called Zip and Email. It simply asks you to select one or more files, which are then compressed in an archive and attached to a blank email. The same shortcut will also appear in the share sheet across macOS.


2) Split the screen between two apps

You can now snap open windows to the sides of the screen in macOS, just as you can in Windows, but you can also set up a shortcut that will split the screen between two specific programs—very handy if there’s a certain display configuration that you often rely on.

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From the Gallery, run a search for Split Screen 2 Apps and install it. When you run it or open it up from the Shortcuts interface, you’ll notice there are three variables you need to set—the two apps that you want to open, and how much space each one uses.


A screenshot of shortcuts on Mac
Plug your favorite apps into Split Screen 2 Apps.
Screenshot: Shortcuts
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3) Stop getting interrupted by distractions

Make sure you’re staying focused on your Mac by making use of the Stop Distractions shortcut, which you should be able to find by clicking on the Gallery link in the navigation panel on the left and then searching for it—it’s in the Get Stuff Done category as well.

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It’s actually quite a simple shortcut: It will quit all apps apart from the one you specify, which is the one you want to focus on. At the same time, Do Not Disturb mode is enabled, and you can set whether it’s turned on indefinitely or for a particular length of time.


4) Rename a batch of files together

Any kind of file handling or file renaming shortcut is going to be useful on the Mac, and if you click the Gallery link on the left and then search for Rename Files, you’ll find an example of the form: A simple shortcut for renaming a whole group of files together.

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Once you’ve selected the files you want to rename, you can choose to add text, replace text, or add a date (or add a custom option of your own). Text or dates can be added before or after the current filename, so you’ve got lots of flexibility when it comes to manipulating your files.


5) Convert any text into audio 

If you need any kind of text converted into an audio file, then the Read Anything shortcut you can download here, courtesy of RoutineHub, has you covered: It can pick out text from PDFs, text files, emails, photos, and even videos, then output it all to an audio file.

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This relies on a few tools built into macOS—including the ability to extract text from images, and of course convert text to speech—and it’s a fun one to play around with. Open it up in the Shortcuts app and you’re able to play around with some of the variables too.


A screenshot of shortcuts on Mac
Read Anything can convert all kinds of text.
Screenshot: Shortcuts
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6) Get ready for your next video meeting

Many of us are now spending more time inside virtual meetings, and the Start My Next Meeting shortcut (which you can find by searching for it from the Gallery pane) makes the process of joining them easier—as well as showing off just how handy shortcuts can be.

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The shortcut scans your calendar for upcoming meetings in whatever video software you use, automatically connects to them at the right time, and creates a note giving you details about them (such as who’s attending), as well as switching on the Do Not Disturb mode.


7) Hide the desktop icons

Something that Windows currently does better than macOS is letting you quickly hide the icons and folders from your cluttered desktop with a couple of clicks—but if you want this functionality on your Mac computer, there is a shortcut that can help you out here.

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You can download the shortcut from here, courtesy of RoutineHub. To make sure that it’s able to perform its magic, you need to allow scripts: From the Shortcuts app, choose Shortcuts, Preferences and Advanced, then check the Allow Running Scripts box.