Admit it: your daily to-do list is so long that you can never get everything done. Apps and platforms claim to make these things easier, but there’s actually a simpler way to complete more tasks. Keyboard shortcuts offer the quickest and easiest way to shave minutes off your day.
Everyone can learn them, on any kind of computer and operating system, and across all types of applications. Most importantly, the more you use keyboard shortcuts, the more intuitive they become. Building that kind of knowledge is invaluable in today’s fast-moving digital world.
CMIT Solutions has refined a list of 10 of the most common keyboard shortcuts below. Most of these apply the same on Windows and Mac machines, although some variations can occur. Have a shortcut you love that’s not represented here? Send us an email and let us know.
1) Start simple. The three most commonly used keyboard shortcuts are also the easiest to learn: Cut (Ctrl+X or Cmd+X), Copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C), and Paste (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V). All of these keys are located next to each other on the keyboard, making these the simplest to adopt across apps like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook. Internet browsing can also be a breeze once you master the copying and pasting of links, making day-to-day work a breeze.
2) Search and find any chunk of text. Ever spend too much time fruitlessly scrolling through a document or web page looking for one specific phrase? Next time, jump right to it using the Search & Find function. Press Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) to open a search pane in most popular programs, and then type in the desired word or phrase you’re looking for. Look for a number (like 1/10) and a down arrow that will let you navigate to each match one by one. Want to narrow your search? Use quotation marks to search only for exact text matches.
3) Grab a screenshot. See something on a web page or in a document that deserves a closer look? Want to send someone a snippet of an important image? Take a screenshot quickly and easily. On PCs, press the Print Screen, PrtScn, or Print Scr button, usually located near the F12 key on your keyboard. Then, navigate to your Pictures/Screenshots folder to access the screenshot. On Macs, press Shift+Cmd+4 and use the crosshairs to drag and select the area of your screen you want to capture. The image will pop up in the bottom right corner of your screen before being saved to your desktop. This is easy on mobile devices, too. Depending on what kind of phone you have, you can usually press the home and lock buttons (on older iPhones), the side and volume up buttons (on newer iPhones), or the volume down and power buttons (on Androids) to take a screenshot. It will typically appear at the bottom of your screen, as well.
4) Lock your screen. Depending on your work environment or your job responsibilities, you may need to lock your computer multiple times a day to secure critical business information or prevent unauthorized access to important data. Luckily, a quick lock is as easy as pressing two or three keys: Win+L (Windows) or Cmd+Ctrl+Q (Mac) will immediately protect your computer by reverting it to the lock screen.
5) Zoom in or out easily. If you open a Word document but can’t read the small type, or find yourself unable to view an entire PDF because a specific section is blown up large, quickly zoom in or out by holding Ctrl+plus sign or Ctrl+minus sign (Windows) or Cmd+plus sign and Cmd+minus sign (Mac). This works well in most web browsers, too, changing the level of detail on the current page you’re viewing without affecting other open windows or tabs.
6) Save often! Ever lost valuable work to a power surge or application crash? Then you know how important this shortcut is—and how often you should be using it. Save often by pressing Ctrl+S (Windows) or Cmd+S (Mac) instead of using your mouse to navigate to the top menu bar and click File > Save. Once you master this trick, you’ll often find yourself using it reflexively, especially when you’re spending a lot of time working on one particular file.
7) Undo an action (and redo it if necessary). This one can have a big impact when you’re trying out different actions in an application—or you make a mistake you want to quickly recover from. Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Cmd+Z (Mac) to undo the last task you completed, reverting to the text you accidentally deleted or replacing the file you didn’t mean to move. The opposite redo action is the same in most applications, too—test it out by pressing Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y. Then deploy any time you’re moving fast and accidentally hit the wrong key.
8) Shift between open applications. Instead of using your mouse to scroll to the menu bar and click between one application to another, speed up your work by easily bouncing between them using the Alt+Tab (Windows) or Cmd+Tab (Mac) shortcut. When you first press these keys, you’ll see a simulated menu bar pop up with a highlight over the program you’re currently using; hold Alt or Cmd down and press Tab repeatedly to toggle through each one. When you land on the program you want to shift to, let go of both keys.
9) Search your computer for a file or application. Another time-saver that serves dual purposes, this finder trick is simple: press Ctrl+Esc (Windows) or Shift+Spacebar (Mac) to open a search pane and then quickly access any program or document on your machine. This shortcut also comes in handy if you’re using a wireless mouse and it disconnects: after the keyboard shortcut, type in Mouse or Bluetooth to open up System Preferences and select the device you want to reconnect.
10) Reload the current web page. Tired of waiting on a slow Internet connection or watching as a website loads improperly? You don’t even have to use your mouse to navigate up to the reload button (or circular arrow icon) on a crowded menu bar. Instead, press Ctrl+R (Windows) or Cmd+R (Mac) to refresh any site in its current browser tab. Keyboard shortcuts might seem unnecessary, but once you learn them, you’ll find yourself navigating through everyday tasks more quickly and easily.
At CMIT Solutions, we love to help our clients enhance efficiency and boost productivity while empowering employees to improve day-to-day workflows. Contact us today if you need help with any of the keyboard shortcuts above. We help you protect your data, secure your network, and speed up slow computers, all while providing the tips and tricks that help you work smarter, not harder.