Using keyboard shortcuts could save the average person eight days worth of work per year, so to save you some work hours, we’ve put together a list of common, handy shortcuts and tricks that every computer user should know. If you have a friend or family member who could use a lesson or refresher, send this post along.
Before we get started, let’s tackle some basics:
- CTRL: an abbreviation for Control, and it’s one of the main keys on your Windows PC that you use to activate keyboard shortcuts.
- Command: If you have a Mac, you also have a Control key, but it’s called Command.
Easy, right? There are other keys you can use, too — Alt/Option, Shift, Fn (on a laptop). You might even mash a combination of multiple modifier keys to trigger actions. Welcome to the fun world of keyboard shortcuts. Now, let’s take a look at a few of the ones you’ll use most.
Control+F (or Command+F on the Mac)
Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac, is the keyboard shortcut for the Find command. If you’re in a web browser and want to search text on a web page, pressing Control+F will bring up a search box. Just type whatever you’re looking for into box, and you’ll be able to jump to where it’s located on the website (if it exists). Control+F works in other applications, too — for example, Microsoft Word and other similar applications use the same keyboard shortcut for hunting for text within documents.
Control+N (or Command+N on a Mac)
Pressing Control+N, or Command+N on a Mac, is the command for creating something new. In a web browser, this will make a new window. In a word processing, image editing, or other document-based application, this keyboard shortcut will typically create a new document.
Control+S (or Command+S on a Mac)
Now that you know how to create a new document with your keyboard, you should also know how to save one. Control+S, or Command+S on a Mac, is usually the keyboard shortcut for saving a document. If this is the first time you’ve saved the document, you’ll be presented with a new window that’ll ask you what to name it and where you want to save it. If you’ve already saved it once before, this keyboard shortcut will simply save your changes.
Control+P (or Command+P on a Mac)
If you want to print the document you just made, Control+P, or Command+P on a Mac, is the keyboard shortcut that typically opens the print window. From there you’ll be able to check your settings, choose a printer, and so on. This keyboard shortcut works in pretty much any application with printable content, including your web browser.
Alt+F4 (or Command+Q on a Mac)
Alt-F4 (and sometimes Control+W or Control+Q), or Command+Q on a Mac, is the keyboard shortcut for quitting your current application. In Windows and macOS, this command will typically quit the currently open application on the screen. Make sure you triple-check that you’re about to quit the active window you’re staring at, however, especially on macOS.
Enter (or Return on a Mac)
The Enter key, or Return key on a Mac, is useful for a lot of things. When a dialog window pops up and asks you to press “ok” or “cancel,” you can usually just press Enter instead of clicking ok. In Windows, you can tell which button will respond to Enter because it’ll have a dotted box inside of it. On a Mac, the button will be blue instead of grey. Enter can also be used for other things, like submitting forms on web pages from any text field in that form.
Shift + Ctrl + Right (Shift + Command + Right on Mac)
To select words to the right of your cursor, hold down Shift + Control + the right arrow key. For Mac users, hold down Shift + Command + the right arrow key. This shortcut is helpful to highlight entire sentences and phrases without the use of your mouse or trackpad. All words to the right of the cursor until the end of that line will be highlighted.
Control + K (Command + K on Mac)
This keyboard shortcut minimizes the steps necessary to hyperlink text in many apps. Copy a URL, highlight the text you would like to transform into a hyperlink, and press Control + K (Command + K on a Mac). The hyperlink box will appear. Use the Control + V or Command + V shortcut to paste the link, and press Enter to finish.
Control + Backspace (Option + Delete on Mac)
This keyboard shortcut allows you to quickly delete full words to the left of your cursor. Place the cursor in the desired location, and hold down Control + Backspace. For Mac users, hold down Option + Delete. This shortcut is helpful to remove text in bulk without needing to highlight the section with the mouse or trackpad.
Windows Key + Down Arrow (Option + Command + H on Mac)
This keyboard shortcut is helpful for anyone who uses multiple windows, apps, and screens at the same time. Other than using hot corners or individually minimising your windows, you can press the Windows Key + Down Arrow (possibly twice) minimise your open application. On a Mac, simply press Command + M.
F5 (Command + R on Mac)
Refresh a web browser with only your keyboard by pressing the F5 key in Windows or Command + R on a Mac. It’s as easy as that.