As a Windows User whom recently ‘converted’ to Mac, I am used to do a certain things the Windows way.  One thing that is for me a very fundamental functionality in Windows is if you press the Enter key in Windows Explorer, it will either open a highlighted folder/file, or run a highlighted program.

But, of course, as you’ve probably known, in a Mac if you try to do the same as the above and expect the same result, then you would be ‘very disappointed.  Because if you press the enter key on a folder or a file, instead of opening it, or running it, it will enter the ‘rename’ mode.  It’s the same as the F2 key in Windows.

This was very annoying for me for a couple months, as everytime I wanted to open a folder I ended up renaming the folder name!

After a while I got used to not to use the enter key and use the mouse instead.  But recently my curiosity got to me and I missed the speed of the keyboard shortcut.  So, a few questions/answers later, I found out the equivalent of the Enter key in a Mac,

It’s the Command + o (that’s the letter o).  I have to admit, it’s not as elegant as the Enter key, but it works find.


Recommend to friends
  • gplus
  • pinterest

About the Author


  1. Michele
    July 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

    That's a legacy shortcut that's been around for decades. Command + O always means "Open," so any time you want to open a file or a program or a folder, you hit Command + O. It works from inside programs too, so "Enter" wouldn't work across all programs. You can't hit "Enter" inside a text editor or MS Word and have it open a file. Back in the 80s, this was actually really cool, because all Mac programs, including the OS, used the same shortcuts, while DOS and Windows had all kinds of different shortcuts.

    • mahadewa
      August 12, 2009 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for the info. I have a suspicion that the reason Windows is using Enter to run program is because on the DOS day, that's the key to run a program from the command prompt.

    • sdjkv
      June 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Nice good info..

  2. oreli
    August 12, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Me and my colleague almost burst into tears… beautiful, thanks for sharing.

    • mahadewa
      August 12, 2009 at 10:47 am

      Pleasure :)

    • mamaremere
      October 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

      i am indeed wiping my own tears of joy…
      thanks a bunch, mahadewa :)

  3. Luka
    October 7, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    i am someone who is trying out mac right now, and i just have to point out, that command + o is a lousy shortcut for such a fundamental command as OPEN, or RUN. i do treasure sticking to a system, but this seems like a big minus of Mac OS X…


    • Yuriy
      August 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      totally agree with you. I got used to browsing folders and open files on my keyboard, and Enter is perfect key to open highlighted folder, run or open file. It is HUGE MINUS

  4. Luka
    October 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    what i wanted to say, is that i don't quite understand such fanaticism about each feature of OS X, even the really bad ones… it makes much more sense that ENTER button, actually ENTERS the folder, doesn't it? i kinda cant link the rename function with entering…. hm?

    • mahadewa
      October 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm

      I completely agree with you on this. As a matter of fact, there are more like this, and sometimes I missed my PC :)

    • Martimeus
      March 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      Hmm.. isn't the "enter" key on a mac keyboard called "Return"? ;-)

  5. Lucas
    October 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    thanks! i have been looking for this a long time.

  6. Christian Grauer
    October 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    You can also use Cmd+<arrow-down> to open/run files and folders, and Cmd+<arrow-up> to leave folders.

    • Chris Prakoso
      October 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm

      Chris, Thanks for the enlightment :) Those combination would be very useful for keyboard-only action when traversing the folder tree.

  7. Miguel
    October 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks. How can I unhide any application. When I use Command+Tab to choose an application that has been hide, I just get the application on the upper menu, however not the window itself. Any suggestions?

    • mahadewa
      October 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm

      If you hide a window with Mac+H, you should be able to Alt-Tab and un-hide it. Unless you minimize it to the dock by clicking on the minimize icon, then the only way you can bring the window back is to click on it on the dock.

    • Ian
      February 19, 2013 at 5:38 am

      Press Ctrl – F3 which will take the highlight to the dock. Then use the right arrow key to the application you want to open / re-open

      • mahadewa
        February 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm

        Cool! Thanks for the tip!

  8. wassupdoc
    February 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    another hint is that command-down(arrow) will also open a file

    • mahadewa
      February 3, 2010 at 12:17 am

      Wow, thanks for the tip, that's really cool!

  9. Bea
    March 10, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    thanks…. this is the first google-hit and i've been missing the enter-function the last weeks (since i changed to mac)

  10. Ninad Desai
    June 10, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I am heavy windows user, in process of switching to mac. This one really helped. Special Thanks to Christian Grauer for sharing command + down arrow / up arrow shortcuts.

  11. Michael
    August 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    This came up for me when searching for a related concept, but I suspect future users might also like these links – Apple's list of keyboard commands
    and… – Wikipedia's article that relates keyboard combinations across platforms. Not exhaustive, but worth a glance for the curious.

  12. mahadewa
    September 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. sathish
    September 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Thank you very much…. It 's very useful to me

  14. Fil
    September 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    You made my day:D Thanks;)

  15. Jrock
    December 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Ha! Logically! Thanks!

    • mahadewa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Glad you find it logical :) I wasn't too impressed :)

  16. ArP
    May 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    life. saver. thank you!

  17. Mohamed
    June 16, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Thanks a lot

  18. Markus
    July 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Same story with me. Thanks a lot.

  19. Runcy
    August 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Awesome, thanks a ton!

  20. Pamela
    August 19, 2012 at 1:10 am
  21. STEVE
    April 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm


  22. JBL
    May 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This has driven me nuts for years. I try to minimize my mouse use due to wrist problems. Thank you for such an easy solution!

  23. M.R.
    June 29, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I totally forgot about that damn shortcut and it driven me nuts, too. Thx for this pretty forward information. For everyone who wants to minimize the mouse usage and try them self to be more like a 'nerdy' keyboard power-user, try This App initially made me forgot about this shortcut because most of the time i just use my configured shortcut to open alfredand type in the name of the file, program or what ever. Because Alfred learns and keep in mind the relation between typed in search and opened item, often only type 2 to 3 characters, hit enter and et voila i've open what i wanted.

    This should definitely not be seen as a comercial, i do call myself a power user, as a programmer I have often tons of open files, programs and/or views and this awesom tool made my working life extremely more efficient!

    BTW: you should make your shortcut command bold, so that the information is even more present

    • mahadewa
      June 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, I have been using Alfred too. The only thing I want to say is, Alfred is the best when you 'already' know the name (or even a few first characters of the name) of the file. This shortcut I mention here is good when you are browsing your finder and want to quickly travers folders and open files randomly.

  24. Pingback: How To Type The Hash (#) Symbol In Mac? | Too Geek To Be True

  25. Pingback: Keyboard Shortcuts To Take Screenshot In Mac | Too Geek To Be True

  26. bond
    December 8, 2014 at 8:28 am

    thanks :)

Leave a comment