The Shift Key Kicks Your Keyboard Shortcuts Into Reverse

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This simple thing never clicked for me before I saw it on Reddit: In many keyboard shortcuts on Windows and MacOS, adding the shift key makes the shortcut do the opposite of what it normally does.

A few examples (On a Mac, replace ctrl or alt with cmd):

  • ctrl-z = undo; shift-ctrl-z = redo

  • space = page down; shift-space = page up

  • ctrl-tab (same on Mac) = next tab; shift-ctrl-tab = last tab

  • alt-tab = next app; shift-alt-tab = last app

  • ctrl-t = open new tab; shift-ctrl-t = re-open last closed tab

You’ll notice that on almost any shortcut for moving around, you can add shift to move in the opposite direction.

Sometimes shift puts a different twist on the action:

  • ctrl-n = new file/document/item; shift-ctrl-n = new folder/smart item

  • ctrl-v = paste; shift-ctrl-v = strip formatting and paste (great for moving text between documents and emails)

  • ctrl-r = refresh; shift-ctrl-r = refresh really hard

So add shift to your favourite keyboard shortcuts, and do everything backward in heels.


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