Quick tips are random posts regarding something I discovered on my way to something bigger. They usually get longer than “quick” would imply, for which I refuse to apologize.

I frequently mention the capability of OS X to assign keyboard shortcuts to Services and other functions. At its most basic, though, the keyboard shortcut functionality can enhance and customize any application. As an example, Finder can be extended nicely for the keyboard-inclined.

Most features in Finder already have shortcuts, as you’ll see if you pull down any menu from the menu bar. There are a few that don’t, primarily contextual menu items, that can have shortcuts assigned to speed up your workflow.

To assign shortcuts, open System Preferences and navigate to the Keyboard pane. Once there, choose the Shortcuts tab and select App Shortcuts from the sidebar. Use the “+” button to add a new one. You can select “All Applications” for universal shortcuts, or a specific app (in this case Finder). Type the title of any menu item—exactly, including upper and lower case—and assign a shortcut. That’s it.

The most useful shortcuts I have assigned:

Show Package Contents
I use ⌃⌘P for this. When a bundle file (e.g. application or document bundle) is selected, pressing the combination will open it as a folder in Finder, the same as ⌘↓ does when a folder is selected.
Note that an ellipsis is not three periods, it’s a single character created by ⌥; (Option-Semicolon). With this one defined, pressing the key combo will pop up a dialog on any selected file(s) that I can use to tag quickly in Finder.
I had assumed for a long time that—because Finder changed the menu item title to “Compress [filename]” in the contextual menu—you couldn’t easily assign a shortcut to it. I mentioned on Mac Power Users that I’d used BetterTouchTool to solve the issue. While the BTT trick is very cool, it turns out (thanks @macfixer) that you can just use “Compress” as the menu item title and the shortcut will work.
Sorting and Display shortcuts
There are default shortcuts for sorting (Name, Modified date, etc.) and display grouping, but I’ve always found them obtuse. I assign these to standard Function keys, e.g. F1-F3 handle quickly sorting by Name, Date, or Size on my system.