Every computer user is familiar with the keyboard and mouse. For decades, they've been the standard instruments of inputting information to a computer. While you might think of the mouse as the primary tool and the keyboard as only for entering text, that would be underestimating the keyboard.
If you aren't familiar, keyboard shortcuts are quick combinations of keys that you can press to perform certain actions quickly. Every piece of software has its own shortcuts, but there are some common to all aspects of your computer.
Let's take a look at the most useful keyboard shortcuts that anyone can take advantage of to become more productive.
Note that in this post, a plus symbol is used to show that you must press the two keys together to activate the shortcut. Thus, CTRL + S means to hold the Control key and tap the S key. All keys will be in bold font for clarity.
Perform Basic Functions Quickly
The best keyboard shortcuts are those that you'll use the most often! Here are shortcuts you can put into practice immediately.
Using Cut, Copy, and Paste let you manipulate text without re-typing it. Try CTRL + X to cut, CTRL + C to copy, and CTRL + V to paste. These are conveniently right in a row on your keyboard's bottom row!
Whenever you make a mistake, you don't have to go back and manually correct it. The shortcut CTRL + Z will undo your previous action (such as typing something in Word or deleting a file in File Explorer), while its counterpart CTRL + Y will redo the undone action.
You can use the mouse to select text inside a box or highlight a bunch of files to move, but it's much faster to press CTRL + A to select everything. What "everything" entails depends on where your cursor is. This could mean everything on a webpage, or all the text in a Word document. Once everything is highlighted, you can move, format, or delete everything as a single unit.
It's important to save your work regularly to avoid losing time if a program crashes. You can do this in an instant with CTRL + S. You can also open a file in any program by using CTRL + O. When it's time to print out your document, pressing CTRL + P will bring you right to the print dialogue.
Whether you're browsing a huge Wikipedia article or looking for something in a Word document you created, you can find what you're searching for using CTRL + F. This will bring up a dialogue box that lets you scan the entire page or document for text that you specify.
Getting More Advanced
The above shortcuts take care of general use, but you can go further once you've mastered those. Here are some shortcuts to integrate when you're looking to speed up your workflow even more.
If you're working with several programs at once, it's slow to switch between them by clicking their icons on the bottom Taskbar. Try pressing ALT + Tab to quickly cycle between open windows.
Depending on how accurate your typing is, you probably hit the Backspace key a lot. Instead of pressing and holding Backspace to clear a few words, you can use CTRL + Backspace to delete a word at a time. This also works with CTRL + Delete to delete one word at a time in front of your cursor.
When you get up from your desk, it's important to lock your computer to prevent unauthorized access. You can do this in an instant using the Windows Key + L shortcut.
If you're using dual monitors and want to change their behavior, you can press Windows Key + P to quickly toggle between the different modes. This allows you to black out your PC screen when connected to a projector, for example.
You probably have lots of windows open all at once. To get them all out of your way, press Windows Key + M to minimize everything for a moment of peace. When you're ready to get them back, press Windows Key + Shift + M to bring everything back to the way it was.
To quickly browse the files on your computer, you can press Windows Key + E to open a File Explorer window at My Computer.
When you're ready to close an open program, you don't have to hunt around for the X in the corner. Just press ALT + F4 to close an open window.
Keyboard Shortcuts Are Awesome!
There are hundreds upon hundreds of keyboard shortcuts, but the ones we reviewed here will be impactful no matter what you do on your computer. The mouse is useful for a lot of tasks, but don't forget that you can keep your other hand on the keyboard to perform shortcuts! Practice integrating a few into your daily workflow, and you'll be amazed how you can zoom around your work.
Do you have a favorite keyboard shortcut we didn't discuss here? Feel free to let us know down in the comments!