Keyboard shortcuts are configured in most programs to help users perform tasks more quickly than using the long lists of options in the menus of the programs. Some shortcuts are common knowledge, such as copy, cut and paste. But there are shortcuts beyond those that can help save time. In the following list, the Ctrl key combinations work for Windows computers and the Cmd (Command) combinations are for Mac computers.
Ctrl F / Cmd F
Find a word immediately on a webpage or text file by pressing this key combination and then type the word in the text box. If you land on a lengthy article or set of instructions, this can help jump through a body of text to the part that matters to you. If you're on a webpage that has 200 links, and you want to locate a “Contact” or “About” link, search for it this way to save time.
Ctrl +/- / Cmd +/-
Is the text too small to read? In any browser, press Ctrl + (plus), or Cmd + on a Mac, to increase the font size. Press Ctrl - (minus), or Cmd -, to decrease the font size. Press Ctrl, or Cmd, and 0 (zero) to return the page and text to its normal size. Don't strain to read text on a screen – just increase or decrease it to what you need, then return it to normal with these keyboard shortcuts.
Alt Backspace / Opt Backspace
This is a text editing trick that works in common text-editing programs, such as Microsoft Word or Notepad, and even works while writing emails. Instead of holding the backspace key down to delete a few words or lines of text, try this combination to remove full words at a time. It may take a few extra seconds to get used to the keyboard command, but if you give it a try, it becomes a useful timesaver. It also works in the Google search field and the web address bar.
Ctrl R / Cmd R
Refresh the page of your browser without reaching for your mouse. Refresh any web page when it doesn't load entirely, the video or animation freezes or when you've just returned to the computer after a long break. If you check your email in a browser, use this keyboard command when you are waiting for incoming mail to make it to your inbox.
Alt Tab / Opt Tab
Switch quickly between windows and programs by pressing this combination. Instead of minimizing and moving windows around, you can go straight to the window you need. After you press the combination, keep Alt or Opt held down and press Tab as many times as you need until the window you need is selected.
Ctrl W / Cmd W
Close any window or program with this shortcut. If you have a webpage open that you don't want another person to see - perhaps you are buying a surprise gift or watching YouTube videos at work - make sure you know this trick. View your browser history to pull the page back up.
Ctrl L / Cmd L
This trick works in web browsers to select the text in the address (URL) bar so that you can type a new address. Think of the L as standing for 'Location,' which is what the L in URL stands for.
Ctrl J / Cmd J
Another browser keyboard shortcut for you — this one pulls up a window of your recent downloads. Works great in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but in Chrome, you need to press Shift along with the combination.
Windows D / Swipe
Easily view your desktop without all the clutter by pressing the Windows key with D. To quickly view your desktop on a Mac, it's a bit more complicated. On Macbooks updated to the latest operating system, swipe the trackpad using four fingers to see a new, blank desktop. Those on previous operating systems can set up Exposé to set up a hot corner to clear your desktop of windows. Visit support.apple.com/kb/HT2503 to learn more about Exposé.
Ctrl Enter / Cmd Enter
After pressing Ctrl L to highlight your address bar in a browser, type the name of the website that you want to visit and use this shortcut to fill in the www and .com parts of the domain.
Stacey Mosier graduated from USC Aiken. She is a developer and works at the Aiken Standard.