How to select all on a Mac

Apple 27-inch iMac (2020) in grey on a table.
The 27-inch iMac from 2020 – the last one ever? (Image credit: Future)

Learning how to select all on macOS is so easy that the actual instructions might be the shortest part of this article. However, there are some important things to keep in mind before you scroll to the bottom, as you would when looking at a recipe online.

First, since this is a macOS feature, it doesn’t matter which of the best MacBook and Macs you have. This process works for all of them. Second, the 'select all' function works for text as well as files, so if you want to move the entire contents of a folder over to another, or copy and paste a novel online to a word document, the 'select all' step stays the same.

Of course, after you’ve selected everything you have a few options for what you can do with the selected items, and I’ll mention a few commands and options below in my final thoughts.

With that in mind, let’s take at look at how to 'select all'.

Steps for how to select all on mac

  1. Open the appropriate window or tab
  2. Select all items or text
  3. Deselect items

Tools and Requirements

  • Apple computer with keyboard

Step by step guide

1. Open the appropriate window or tab

(Image: © Future/James Holland)

Before you press the necessary buttons, you need to have whatever you want to select all of on the screen, as this doesn’t select everything on your Apple computer. So, bring to the front the window, tab, or app you want to use this function.

2. Select All items or text

(Image: © Future/James Holland)

With the relevant website, folder, etc open, press Command+A. You’ve now selected everything. You can also right-click and choose Select All from the contextual menu, or go to Edit > Select All in the main menu where this is an option.

3. Deselect items

(Image: © Future/James Holland)

If you use this feature with a folder full of files and want to select everything except one or two files, after you've selected all the items you can Command-click to deselect the files you don’t want to select. Note that this doesn’t work if you're selecting text.

Final thoughts

This feature is incredibly simple but very useful. You can use it before using a number of other shortcuts. Command+C will copy everything, and you can then use Command+V to paste the selected items into a new folder. Delete will do as the key suggests and delete everything. Or, you can click the items and drag them to the desired folder or location.

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James Holland

James Holland loves audio gear! So much so that he covers all the ins and outs, good and bad for Tech Radar and T3. Where does that so-called expertise come from? Not only is he a lifelong music-lover but he also works in the music industry and is a musician. When not testing headphones or listening to music, he loves to travel, rage at the latest PC games, and eat off-the-beaten-path but not too off-the-beaten-path food.