Keyboard shortcuts are important because sometimes your mouse dies (very sad), and sometimes you just need to be able to do things more quickly than mousing all the way across the screen to find a command buried in a menu and click.
Take CTRL (Control)
Most keyboard shortcuts are called “key combinations” because they involve using a combination of keys. When you see them referenced in a book or online, they might be written several ways. For example, you might see any of these:
Those are all referring to the keyboard shortcut used to copy something, and they are read, “Control C.”
To actually implement that combination, you press the Control key first, and then the C. Some people try to hit both keys at the same time, and while that often works, you have to have very good reflexes to do it consistently. I don’t. What works best for me is to hold down the Control key, press and release the other key, and then release the Control key.
Most of the combos I’ll share with you will work in just about any application you are using, and are handy to have when you need them.
For the purpose of this post, I’ll be using these abbreviations:
- CTRL = the Control Key
- ALT = the Alt Key
- SH = the Shift Key
- CMD = the Command Key
- OPT = the Option Key
- SH = the Shift Key
The Keyboard Shortcuts
|Copy highlighted text||CTRL+C||CMD+C|
|Paste from clipboard||CTRL+V||CMD+V|
|Cut highlighted text||CTRL+X||CMD+X|
|Print dialogue box||CTRL+P||CMD+P|
|Move to next field||TAB||TAB|
|Return to previous field||SH+TAB||SH+TAB|
Then there are some other shortcuts that need a little more explanation.
Selecting more than one thing
- If you have a list, and you highlight one item and then hold down the shift key and highlight another item further down the list, all of the items, including the first and last will be highlighted.
- If you just want to select certain items, but they are not all grouped together, use the Control (or Command on a MAC) key. Highlight the first item. Press and hold the Control/Command key, and then click each of the individual items you want. When you have them all, release the Control/Command key.
Closing an active window
- On a PC, if you press ALT+F4 (that’s the F4 Function Key up above the number keys), it will close the active window.
- On a MAC, if you press CMD+M it will minimize the current window.
Accessing the top menu options
At the top of many application windows, you will find a series of menus, like File, Edit, View, etc. If your mouse dies, you can still access those on a PC, using the keyboard. ALT+F will open the File menu. ALT+E will open the Edit menu, and so on. Once the menu is open, you can scroll down using the arrow keys until you reach the function you want, and then hit the enter key.
All the others…
And the list goes on. Just search for “keyboard shortcuts” and you will be amazed what you can do without using your mouse or touchpad. But these are the ones I use every day, and I believe every computer user should have them handy if they need them.
Let me know in the comments section if you have other keyboard shortcuts that you can’t live without.