Keyboard Shortcuts Can Beat Your Mouse
A computer mouse is a powerful tool; amazingly easy to understand and to use. But, as easy as mousing is, there are times when sticking with the keyboard can be quicker and easier.
For example, when you want to copy some text on your computer, with a mouse you would need to open a menu with the mouse and then select “Copy” from the menu list. Or, with your keyboard you can simply press “Ctrl-C”. All done.
(On Mac’s, the key to use is “Command-C” [⌘-C].)
This speedy little trick is called a “keyboard shortcut” or, sometimes, “hotkey”. There are lots of these shortcuts, and they exist in all programs on all computers.
Many of them, particularly the editing commands – like “Cut”, “Copy” and “Paste” – are common to almost every program, and can be handy whether you’re surfing the web, or writing an email note, or editing a letter or spreadsheet.
To make them even handier, these hotkeys can be done with one hand. One of the handiest is “Save” – Ctrl-S or ⌘-S. Use this one-handed helper to save the current version of the document (email, spreadsheet, photo, whatever) that you are working on. It’s easy to make it a habit for your left hand to do Ctrl-S whenever your right hand reaches for the telephone or a cup of coffee.
Selecting things to cut, copy or paste can also be done with the keyboard by combining “Shift” with the arrow keys. Shift+right-arrow will select the next character to the right. Shift+down-arrow will select all of the text from the cursor position down to the next line down. The up and left arrow keys work similarly. Adding Ctrl-Shift (or Command-Shift on Mac) makes the selection cursor jump to the end of the next word with the right or left arrow keys or to the end of the next paragraph with the up and down keys.
So; to select and copy from the current cursor position to the end of the paragraph, you could just type Ctrl-Shift+Right-arrow to select, then Ctrl-C to copy. Much faster than using the mouse.
These keyboard tricks work on emails, web browsers and spreadsheets too. And there are many, many more of them. Some are common to many programs and some are quite specific to specialty programs. The hotkeys for editing photos and movies can vary quite a bit from those used for editing letters.
In every case there are times when keyboard shortcuts are just a lot easier than using a mouse, and sometimes they can really speed things up.
Hiding in plain sight
Many keyboard shortcuts are hiding in plain sight – right on your software and system menus. For an example, click on the “Edit” menu in your word processor or web browser. On the left hand side is the menu of commands from which you can select. But notice on the right-hand side you see that some of the commands have symbols next to them. In the Mac picture they look like “⌘-Z” but on Windows they would say “Ctrl-Z”, and so on.
These are the “shortcut” keys that you can use to get the same result as you’d expect when you click with the mouse. So, as in the list above, you see ⌘-C for “Copy”. Look around your menus and you’ll find a lot of these shortcuts listed there.
You can customize keyboard shortcuts too. So, if there’s a command that you use frequently and you’d like to be able to do it from the keyboard, you can make that happen. Check your program’s help files, or give me a call. I’ll be delighted to help you set up some keyboard shortcuts. I use them all the time!
As always, if you have any questions about this, please do give me a call:
Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy
This article is sponsored by a generous donation from M&S of Pawling. http://www.mandsofpawling.com/