Here's a screen in our desktop app. It has lots of keyboard shortcuts. How would I indicate to the user that these exist?

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I considered a small "?" help button which pops up a window listing the shortcuts. I'd place it in the top-right.

  • Mousing over actions often shows a tooltip with a description. I find that's a helpful place to put a shortcut too. – Andrew Sep 15 '16 at 18:40

I would suggest a small control somewhere on the screen that pops up a list of keyboard shortcuts and what they do. You might even engineer it as a menu so that the user can see the keyboard shortcut, but select it to trigger that action. Without knowing more about your situation I don't want to suggest too much, but maybe a small "fly-in" drawer type of UI (in the lower left here):

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When triggered it could pull up the full list:

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Just a quick idea - good luck!


I will suggest adding the shortcuts on the button-action, like Mac does everywhere -see image.

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In this case, users know that there is a faster way to do the specific action.

In addition, some nice icons will be nice, like "⌘1" instead of "Command1"

I hope it helps, cheers


Depending on how robust your keyboard shortcut support is, you may consider isolating the experience to a modal. Let's look to Slack as an example:

Note that this modal appears centered within the app - I've removed Slack's left sidebar to preserve my team's privacy, hence the strange crop-job here

This concept would provide an opportunity to list out your shortcuts in detail with logical grouping, while still keeping the user in context. Given your existing UI, you might launch this from a dedicated button located in one of the corners (in what is effectively unused white space) - if you have a lengthy list of shortcuts, ease of access to that list is important to prevent user fatigue/frustration. To go even further, you could take another cue from Slack and include a keyboard shortcut shortcut for quicker launching :)

EDIT: Menu item location for clarity

enter image description here

  • This I like. I don't have slack; what does the button look like that opens this window? – Steve McLeod Sep 15 '16 at 6:56
  • Slack has nested this in "Help", located in the menu bar. I've edited my original comment with a screenshot of their treatment.You could provide a simple icon, such as an encircled "i" icon for "information", or it could be a text-based button that simply says "keyboard shortcuts". – galenrutledge Sep 15 '16 at 13:22

Do you think your users will use the keyboard shortcuts? I predict they will not be that popular for your common users and only used by your power users. Your power users will tend to research more so you could place it anywhere and not have to have it in your main UI.

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