PC Whisperer

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Speed Up Your Computing With Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (1)

People frequently tell me: "Alex, you do things so quickly on the computer! You're like a wizard!" Well, it's not magic. Seeing me in action may seem dazzling, but one of the most important things you can do to speed up your experience is very simple: Use the keyboard.

Of course everyone knows that the keyboard is how you enter text into web forms, emails, documents, et cetera. But not everyone knows how to use keyboard shortcuts, simple commands built into both Windows and Mac OSX that function as shorthand for simple tasks you perform frequently. 

How do I do it?

On a Windows computer, keyboard shortcuts are performed by holding down the Ctrl key in the lower left corner of the keyboard, then pressing a certain letter. For example, if you want to use the Find shortcut, hold down the Ctrl key, press and release the F key, then release Ctrl. The notation for this input is usually written as Ctrl-F, pronounced Control-F when spoken.

The Ctrl key is highlighted in white in this image:

On a Mac, the process is similar: hold down the Cmd/⌘ key and press a certain letter, then release both keys. To use the Find shortcut on a Mac, hold the Cmd key, press and release F, then release Cmd/⌘. This input is referred to as Cmd-F (pronounced) Command-F, or sometimes ⌘-F.

The Cmd/⌘ key is circled in red in the image below. You'll see the Mac keyboard does have a Control key like Windows keyboards, but be aware that this key doesn't do the same thing in Mac OSX as it does in Windows.. For our purposes, the Ctrl/Control key performs Windows shortcuts, and the Cmd/⌘ key performs Mac shortcuts

OK, OK, so what shortcuts are there?

Tons of them! We'll go over a few of the basics here; these work in most applications and are generally useful.

Control-S/Cmd-S: Quick Save. In most applications, this will bring up the Save dialog. It's important to save documents as often as possible in case the computer loses power, and so this is one of the most important commands you can know.

Control-Z/Cmd-Z: Undo. If you make a mistake typing, this handy command will try to reverse whatever you just did. Typed text gets deleted, deleted text is restored, and formatting is undone.

Control-F/Cmd-F: Find. Type in a word in the dialog box that appears and the application will try to find that word in the document or web page you're looking at, and scroll to it automatically.

Control-C/Cmd-C: Copy. Copies whatever you have selected to the clipboard. Does nothing by itself, until you use...

Control-V/Cmd-V: Paste. Pastes the copy made with the Copy shortcut to your current location. Most often used to make copies of text in a document, but can also be used to manage files in Windows Explorer or Finder. This command can also be performed on Windows by holding Shift and pressing Insert.

Keep an eye on this space for further tips and tricks. Next time, I might share more of my trade secrets, maybe even more keyboard shortcuts!