macOS: Expected Ctrl-p to move to previous line, but instead acts like Cmd-p and focuses file picker


I commonly use Emacs-style navigation keys while editing text on my Mac. It saves me from having to do weird things with my hands to hit the increasingly awkwardly shaped arrow keys.

These key combos work as expected:

  • Ctrl-n: move to next line (like down arrow)
  • Ctrl-f: move forward (like right arrow)
  • Ctrl-b: move backwards (like left arrow)

Which makes it really weird when this doesn’t:

  • Ctrl-p:
    • Expected: move to previous line (like up arrow)
    • Actual: changes focus to the quick file picker, just like Cmd-p

Mac users are accustomed to Ctrl & Cmd doing different things, like Cmd-p for Print and Ctrl-p for previous-line across anything using the standard Cocoa keyboard shortcuts. I’d expect Cmd-p to focus the quick picker, but not Ctrl-p (which I keep tripping over while editing text).

This is just like Ctrl-K search shortcut conflicts with delete to end of line, only for a different stock system text editing shortcut.