Six Indispensable Keyboard Shortcuts
A recent article in The Atlantic contained a statistic that, if true in the computing population, is quite disturbing. According to a Google search anthropologist, Dan Russell, 90% of the US Internet population does not know that Control/Command+F is a keyboard shortcut that can be used to find a word/phrase in a document or web page.
Surely, this cannot be true, right? RIGHT? Well, if you are starting to turn red, please say a prayer to the Holy Trinity of Tech (Jobs, Brin, Paige) and buckle down for a crash course on essential, keyboard shortcuts.
Before we go over the actual shortcuts, let’s review some of the lingo. CTRL is the abbreviation for the Control key, the main modifier key for Windows keyboard shortcuts. Macintosh keyboards have a Control key, as well, but the primary modifier key is actually the Command button.
These keys, as well as others (e.g., Alt/Option, Shift) are all modifier keys, i.e., keys that, by themselves, do not have a noticeable effect, but when combined with other keys, produce useful results.
So, let’s get to the good stuff.
Control+F (Command+F For Mac)
Still red? Nothing to be ashamed about. It happens to the best of us. As you now know, Control(Command)+F is the Find command. A useful shortcut that is present in many applications, invoking the Find command brings up a search box where you can enter a word/phrase that you wish to find on your web page or in your document.
Control+N (Command+N For Mac)
The command for creating something new is Control(Command)+N. What is created depends on the type of application you are using. For a web browser, you will create a new tab/window. For a word processing application, e.g., Microsoft Word, you will create a new document.
Control+S (Command+S For Mac)
In order to save your current document/presentation/spreadsheet, you can press Control(Command)+S. If you are saving it for the first time, you will be presented with a pop-up box that prompts you to name the file and select a place to save it to. If you have already done this, invoking this keyboard shortcut will just save the file.
Control+P (Command+P For Mac)
Another common task that would benefit from a keyboard shortcut is printing. To print your current project, press Control(Command)+P, which will open the print dialog box for your operating system. Here, you can select your settings, choose a printer, and set a variety of other options.
Alt+F4 (Command+Q For Mac)
The Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut (or Control+W, Control+Q, depending on the application) is used to quit the current application (Command+W for window closing and Command+Q for application quitting for Mac). In Windows, this will execute on whatever application is in focus. On Mac, it should work the same way, although it may not be as obvious which application is currently in focus. To clarify, look in the upper-left corner of the Menu Bar to see which application is active.
Enter (Return For Mac)
Easily one of the most essential keys on your keyboard, the Enter key is used for a variety of tasks. It can be used to select Okay or Cancel in dialog boxes, submitting forms on web pages, for creating line breaks in text documents, and for going to a URL in a web browser, among other things.
I can’t state how important these shortcuts are to increasing the quality of your computing experience on a daily basis. Learn them, use them and teach them to your family, friends and coworkers.