I have a Macbook Air with Mac OSX 10.8.2 . I have been wondering how do I select the File Menu which I am so used to doing in Windows using Alt+F, so that I do not have to click on the File menu each time I need to do something. I googled and checked out a bunch of articles as well. This Wikipedia article suggests http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_keyboard_shortcuts

CTRL+F2 then F. I tried this in Sublime Text and did not work for me. Any clues?

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    Well there is the tag Keyboard Shortcuts which defines it as "Keyboard shortcuts provide quick access to application or system actions via combinatorial key presses." Which already has 1548 questions. So how is this offtopic? Please stop this bullying. – pal4life Nov 10 '12 at 21:29
  • Sublime Text isn't very "Mac"--I'm not surprised. If you want to open the file menu from the keyboard, you'll have to turn on "Full Keyboard Access" under "Keyboard Shortcuts" in the Keyboard pane of System Preferences. You can then use Ctrl+F2 to get to the menu bar. – nielsbot Nov 10 '12 at 22:27
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    You could use the keyboard shortcut for the Help » Search menu item (probably Cmd-?) and just type the text of the menu item you're looking for. You can also assign custom keyboard shortcuts to menu items, either directly in Sublime Text's configuration, or (for most other programs) in System Preferences » Keyboard » Keyboard Shortcuts » Applications. – Daniel Beck May 9 '13 at 15:15

On OS X, anything that has a keyboard shortcut will be shown next to the relative task.

To access and browse the upper menu bar it is CtrlF2. You will see the  icon highlight and you are able to browse the menus with the arrow keys at that point.

If you have the function keys set as special function keys, eg. dim display, play/pause, etc. you either must change them to perform as standard function keys in System Preferences » Keyboard or use the shortcut fnCtrlF2.

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    Good one. Does not exactly do as I was looking for. Cause this will not cause the file menu to drop down. Wondering if that is even possible in Macbook Air? – pal4life Nov 19 '12 at 7:31
  • @pal4life Press right arrow to move the selection to the File menu bar item, then press return or down arrow to open the menu. There are no menu bar item specific mnemonic keys (i.e. what's underlined on Windows). – Daniel Beck May 9 '13 at 15:13
  • Instead of arrowing over, once you Cmd+F2, you can press the first letter of the menu you wish to jump to to select that menu. Not as convenient as Windows, but you make due with what you got. :/ – Chris Camaratta Aug 4 '14 at 5:29
  • When I pressed <kbd>Ctrl</kbd> + <kbd>F2</kbd> it didn't open the File menu like <kbd>Alt</kbd> + <kbd>F</kbd> would in Windows. Can someone help me understand how this hotkey works? – Catto Apr 20 '16 at 20:45

I also miss the ease at which I could navigate Windows menus from the keyboard :(

A couple people mentioned that you can use ctrl-F2 to get to the menu bar. This seems really awkward to me, so I took the advice of this CNET article and changed it to option-downArrow. As the article mentions, the advantage to this shortcut is that after using it, your finger is now ready for more navigation via the arrow keys. Of course you can change it to what ever seems easiest to you.

From the article, here is how to change your keyboard shortcut to access the menus:

To do this, open the Keyboard system preferences, and in the Keyboard Shortcuts section, select the Keyboard category. Then locate the option called "Move focus to the menu bar" and ensure it is checked. Then click the "^F2" hot key text so it highlights, then press the hot key of choice.

It's not perfect but it's pretty good.

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    At least someone is thinking about the actual amount of work/time/keystrokes required to do this EXTREMELY common task. I do like the idea of re-using the same keys. Tired of mac apologists not recognizing this lack of hotkeys as a huge huge minus on mac. I dumped os/x for several years due to this issue. – WestCoastProjects Aug 20 '15 at 0:52

To access the File menu:

  • press CtrlShiftF2 (brings focus the  icon in the top left of your screen)
  • press f ("f" for "file" - brings focus to the File menu)
  • press (opens the File menu)
  • press the first letter of the item you want, or press until you reach the item
  • press to move to the next menu (open/closed state of menu is maintained)

Menu items can be accessed by using the first letter of the name of the item, as can items within the menu once the menu is opened.

For example, to access File > Export hit CtrlShiftF2, f, , e

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    Your answer really works. Unfortunately, I will have my 6 fingers to achieve this. This can't be called short cut. It is Yoga. I felt Windows shortcuts are more matured when compared to Mac – Raghav Nov 18 '18 at 21:42
  • This works but is completely impractical. I will add an answer on changing the shortcut to access menu items – WestCoastProjects Feb 9 '20 at 20:09
  • In MacBook Pro with touchbar, this is even more painful, with the additional <kbd>fn</kbd> thrown in! I miss the <kbd>ALT</kbd> key functionality from Windows. – Shiyaz Apr 28 '20 at 9:21

The answer from @Bohemian is correct - but not practical. You will want to change the key-binding for accessing the menu:

Type keyboard in Spotlight and select the Shortcuts tab:

enter image description here

The one you want to change is Move focus to the menu bar : I have chosen Ctl-; that is much more do-able than the crazy default finger pattern

enter image description here

This only reduces the pain of accessing menu items. They are still v clumsy versus counterparts on Linux variants as well as windows, the defunct OS/2 etc.

This is an ongoing HUGE miss by Apple - and it shows their disdain for keyboardists and accessibility (not to mention carpal tunnel issues) - by disallowing use of the keyboard to access the many menu items in complex applications. Intellij, Pycharm, and friends have well over one hundred menu items: it is far out of possible to create - let alone remember - that many custom shortcuts. Apple instead doubles down on their keyboard mnemonics bashing by insisting that developers remove them - even from applications originally intended for other operating systems.

Note: I have been using Macos full time 7 days/week since 2013 - and had already run into this problem - and found it essentially unsolvable - in 2010. It is not a matter of "education" about so-called alternatives.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly but there is a good workaround for JetBrains products. Hit shift 2 times and you'll open "Search Everywhere". You can search for filenames, settings, menu items, etc. I use it all the time. It's incredibly helpful and will show you the keyboard shortcut of the action you're looking for. – Matt Apr 4 at 21:56
  • oh! i forgot about shift-shift – WestCoastProjects Apr 4 at 22:52

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