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Enter to open a file in Finder

On my Mac when I hit the "enter" key on a file on my desktop or in the finder, it enters the "rename file" mode.

1) How do you actually "launch" or "open" (i.e. double click) the file with only the keyboard? In Windows, the Enter key does this. 2) Is there a way to map the Enter key to do this in Mac instead of rename?

Honestly, it makes little sense to me. I mean, how often do you rename something? Once, maybe. How often do you open something? Lots and lots of times.


3 Answers 3


Cmd-O. Enter has been the command to enter rename mode for a loooooong time. At least since System 7 in 1993.

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure that's been the shortcut since the original Mac came out in 1984. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 6:53

That bothered me, too, when I switched to Mac, but after some years of use and renaming lots of files in Finder, I appreciate it over pressing F2.

You can also open any file in the Finder by pressing cmd-down (the apple key + the down arrow). It also works for folders, too. This is intuitive if you think about it this way: cmd-up navigates up one level in the hierarchy of your filesystem and cmd-down navigates deeper. If it's a file, going deeper opens the file.

  • List view has similar shortcuts for folders. Left and right arrows expand and collapse folders. Cmd-option-right expands the entire hierarchy (save bundles).
    – Matt K
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 12:38
  • 1
    You can also navigate by typing the name of the file or folder you want. Finder will select the first file matching the letters as you type. You can also use the arrows to navigate, both in icon view and list view. Shift + Up or Down will add files to the selection.
    – stib
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 6:56

When you are using the Desktop, you are actually using the Finder.

So select the Finder's File menu to see various shortcut keys you can use to perform various commands on the selected icon.

For more advanced / different keyboard shortcuts use the keyword shortcut to look for information in Mac Help.

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