Obsidian Hotkeys: Favorites and best practices

There are so many wonderful hotkeys. The crazy thing about hotkeys, is that each hotkey can open up a whole new world of workflow possibilities… That said, this is how my personal setup has emerged. Every choice is deliberate to match my personal needs. Hotkeys are a personal thing, but hopefully there are a few moves here you dig. Enjoy!


Some basics

Make new noteCmd-n
Create note in new paneCmd-shift-n
Open the link you’re hovering over in a new pane (while in edit mode)Cmd-click
Toggle edit/preview modeCmd-e
Open quick switcherCmd-o
Close active paneCmd-w

Formatting basics

Undo, cut, copy, paste, bold, italicizeCmd-z,x,c,v,b,i


Open command paletteCmd-p
Search and replace in current fileCmd-f
Search in all filesCmd-shift-f

Some faves for outlining

Swap line up — I mapped this to: Cmd-1
Swap line down — I mapped this to: Cmd-2
Toggle fold on current line — I mapped this to Cmd-3
Toggle line to bulleted of numbered list † — I mapped this to Cmd-4

†: Requires the plugin “Hotkeys++”

Formatting intermediate

Insert template — I mapped this to: Cmd-t


Changing the view

Load workspace — I mapped this to: Shift-Esc
Manage workspaces — I mapped this to: Control-Esc
Toggle left sidebar — I mapped this to: Cmd-LeftArrow
Toggle right sidebar — I mapped this to: Cmd-RightArrow

Some secret weapons

Navigate back — I mapped this to: Opt-a
Navigate forward — I mapped this to: Opt-s

Programmed to my mouse

Open previous daily note — extra mouse button back
Open next daily note — extra mouse button forward
Open my Home note — When I click this mouse button, it types Cmd-o, 000, Enter

Setup and File Management

Open settingsCmd-,
Show in system explorer — I mapped this to: Cmd-ctrl-opt-i
Reveal active file in navigation — I mapped this to: Cmd-ctrl-i
Move file to another folder — I mapped this to: Cmd-shift-i
Open another vault — I mapped this to: Cmd-ctrl-opt-o

Note Management

Toggle pin — I mapped this to: Cmd-shift-e
Note Refactor: Extract selection to new note - first line as file name †† — I mapped this to: Cmd-shift-r
Edit file title — I mapped this to: Cmd-l (then hit enter to return to the note)
Calendar: Open Weekly Note — I mapped this to: Cmd-shift-m

††: Requires the plugin “Note Refactor”
†††: Requires the plugin “Calendar”

You might find some hotkeys missing that you can’t live without. Please do share, along with how you’re using it! :grinning:


Was supposed to learn VIM keybindings to make good use of the keyboard but found that it distracted me too much from getting things done. After watching your outlining video, I decided to take your suggestion and implement left-hand hotkeys myself to be more efficient in using both the keyboard and the mouse (which I found that I still needed to use even with VIM anyway), so much so that I made a note of these left-hand hotkeys should I forget them—which would become unlikely after frequently using them.

Left hand keyboard shortcuts


  • Navigate back and forward: Cmd + Opt + Z & Cmd + Opt + X
    • Was pleasantly surprised that you had a similar setting for navigating notes lol
  • Toggle left and right sidebars: Cmd + Shift + A & Cmd + Shift + S
  • Previous and next daily notes: Cmd + Opt + A & Cmd + Opt + S


  • Toggle highlight for sentence (Extract Highlights plugin): Cmd + Opt + Spacebar
  • Toggle highlight for selection: Cmd + Shift + Spacebar
  • Split horizontally (duplicate active pane): Cmd + Opt + D
  • Reveal active file in navigation: Cmd + S
  • Random note (Smart Random Note plugin): Cmd + Opt + R

Outlining (four of these hotkeys might be familiar :wink: )

  • Swap line up and down: Cmd + Opt + 1 & Cmd + Opt + 2
  • Toggle bullet and unordered list: Cmd + Opt + 3
  • Toggle fold and unfold: Cmd + Opt + 4
  • Fold and unfold all headings and lists: Cmd + Opt + - & Cmd + Opt + +
    • Best with full-sized keyboard

I have some frequently-used hotkeys that I deliberately didn’t change to left-hand; these are the ones where I would need to type out something, thus would require my two hands anyway.

  • Create new note and in new pane: Cmd + N & Cmd + Shift + N
  • Insert template (Templater plugin): Cmd + ;
  • Jump to Link plugin: Cmd + '
  • Move file to folder: Cmd + /
  • Command Palette & Quick Switcher: Cmd + P & Cmd + O

I enjoy the thought process that went into your selections, thanks for sharing! There are a few here I will reference in the future, during my next big venture into setting up additional hotkeys :slight_smile:

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Helpful. Thank you!

Does anyone one know if there is a way to make a hot key to star a file?

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Yep, you’ll have to set up the hotkey of your choice:

Oops…my mistake. Sorry! Silly question.

Thank you nonetheless!

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Could you say a little about how you actually use these left-handed key combinations in practice? I’m thinking maybe sticky keys might work? When I try to do things like CTL-1, I have to contort myself into a pretzel. LOL :slight_smile:

In any case, thanks for your post.

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I use cmd-1 and cmd-2 like “tap-ity-tap-tap”, real easily. But that’s because I’m particular about the cmd key being situated under the “x” key, which makes perfect sense, but for some ill-advised reason, most keyboards place in moreso under the “z” key, which makes no sense. Seriously, the space bar doesn’t need to be that massive folks!

Screen Shot 2021-03-23 at 8.33.04 PM

Not-smart (but most common):

The first version is ergonomically friendly. The second version is trying very hard not to be.

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Thanks for the info. I’m using a MS Surface Pro so I obviously can’t use a different keyboard. I guess my options are 1) Sticky keys or 2) use the ALT rather than CTL (I have two ALT keys, one on each side of the oversized space bar). The second choice would take switching hands but my mouse is always close to the ALT key. In any case, this is one of those “first world problems”. Thanks again!

OBTW: I just had a thought. I could add all kinds of interesting hot keys with the AHK (Auto Hot Key) app. It seems to be nearly unlimited in what one can do with it. Hmmmm :slight_smile:

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Sorry for the late reply. I actually use an external Windows keyboard with my Macbook.

On that keyboard, I’ve set the following modifier keys (from Mac to Windows keys respectively):

  • Cmd to Ctrl
  • Opt/Alt to just Alt; and
  • Windows key to Ctrl.

I believe I’ve set this so that whenever I need to work with a Windows computer, the layout of the keyboard wouldn’t be so foreign to me.

I use a full-size mechanical keyboard, and what I’ve found comparing to a laptop keyboard is that the latter has flat keys, which makes it harder for me to access, say, the Ctrl and number keys simultaneously as this forces my fingers to “contort like a pretzel” as you say.

But with a mechanical keyboard, I technically use “6 fingers” with my left hand, the extra finger being my palm—specifically the bone right before the pinky. This enables me to press the Ctrl key—using that part of my palm—while keeping the other fingers, especially the pinky, on the home row keys (good luck doing this with laptop keyboards tho). This is much easier than using your pinky to press Ctrl, which I’d still need to do for other combinations like Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + (number) (but you could also use your palm to press the Ctrl and Shift keys simultaneously lol).

If the contortion I need to do is too uncomfortable, the numpad is also an option, which makes it less left-handed but still doesn’t require much right arm movement as my right hand is close to the numpad when using a mouse.

Speaking of which, what I’ve found is that the use of left-handed key combos isn’t as needed when using the laptop keyboard as I’d be using the trackpad instead of the mouse, the former being closer to the keyboard than the latter is, and the latter requiring more right arm movement. When I’m not using the external keyboard and mouse, some of the combinations I’ve mentioned in my other post I easily do with two hands on laptop, e.g. to do Cmd + Opt + Z, I press Cmd and Opt with my right hand and press Z with my left.

That said, I’m not too focused on ergonomics, this is just what I’ve observed from what has come natural to me. (Apologies for the long post, I really need to work on being concise rip)

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I personally don’t mind the common layout, but I guess it’s what I’ve lived with for a long time now. I do notice that my thumb needs to bend more, and the Macbook keyboard is more comfortable in that regard.

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  • Alt , - quick switcher
  • Ctrl . - command palette
  • Ctrl / - Andy mode toggle

Since these are three of my most used shortcuts they can all be triggered quickly using only two fingers on my right hand.

I also have Alfred set to Alt Space so it is also triggered by my right hand.

My keyboard is a Kinesis Freestyle split mechanical keyboard so it doesn’t have Cmd keys. and I haven’t gotten around to installing the Mac keycaps on it yet.

You can see in this image why I chose those key combinations: