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Become the master of keyboard shortcuts

keyboardFEATURE

How much were you taught about computers in school? Depending on your age, the answer might be “a bit in high school”, “only in a college course”, or even “nothing at all”! Today, the use of computers is so widespread that kids start learning about Digital Technologies in their very first years at school.

We all use computers – chances are that you’re reading this on a desktop computer right now unless you happen to be on your phone or a tablet. The question is: are you using your computer efficiently, or are you relying heavily on left and right clicking with your mouse and hunting for menu options? You can save a lot of time by doing the same things with just a few taps of your keyboard and we’re about to show you how!

We’ve put together a guide of handy shortcuts you can take using your keyboard, from basic actions right through to setting up custom keyboard shortcuts to do just about anything! It might take some time to develop a habit of using them, but keep at it – before you know it, you’ll be tapping away like a pro.

Making a selection & clicks

To start off with, here’s a few tricks you may now have known about when looking at content in your web browser.

  • Instead of right-clicking a hyperlink like this one and selecting “Open in a new tab”, you can just click a link using the scroll wheel on your mouse to automatically open a it in a new browser tab.
  • Who needs to waste time finding the X on a tab? Click anywhere on a browser tab using your mouse’s scroll wheel to close the tab.
  • If you closed a tab by accident, use Ctrl + Shift + T on a Windows keyboard or Command () + Shift () + T on Mac to re-open it again.

Use Ctrl + N on Windows, Cmd + N on Mac to open a new browser window.

There’s no point learning how to quickly cut and paste with keyboard shortcuts without first knowing how to select the text and images you want to work with. The old ‘click and drag’ can get awkward at times, especially when the cursor seems to have a mind of its own or images get in the way. Instead, use mouse clicks!

  • Click twice quickly to select an entire word.
  • Click three times quickly to select an entire paragraph.

But wait, what if you need to select more than a single word or paragraph? To select more, it’s time to use your keyboard.

  • Click on text to place your mouse cursor, then press and hold Ctrl + Shift on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + Shift () on a Mac. You can now use the arrow keys on your keyboard to expand your selection – use the left and right arrow keys to go by word, or the up and down arrow keys to go by line.
  • Press Ctrl + A on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + A on a Mac to select everything on a page.

Working with keyboard shortcuts

Once you have a selection, you want to do stuff with it right? Here’s a list of some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts which you can use to copy, move and manipulate data quickly while you’re using a computer.

  • Press Ctrl + C on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + C on a Mac to copy a selection.
  • Press Ctrl + X on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + X on a Mac to cut a selection. Unlike copying, this will remove the text from its original location when you’re working in program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Press Ctrl + V on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + V on a Mac to paste a copied or cut selection.
  • Made a mistake? Press Ctrl + Z on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + Z on a Mac to undo an action.
  • If that ‘mistake’ wasn’t such a mistake after all, you can press Ctrl + Y on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + Shift () + Z on a Mac to redo an action.
  • Looking for something in particular? Press Ctrl + F on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + F on a Mac to open the Find tool. This will let type in a word and the computer will search for every instance where it’s used within a document or web page.
  • To turn highlighted text into a hyperlink that you can click to visit a web page, press Ctrl + K on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + K on a Mac. Enter the URL address for the web page you want to link to (we recommend copying and pasting it from your web browser using the keyboard shortcuts above!) and then hit the Enter key to finish.
  • Press Ctrl + P on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + P on a Mac to open the print options for a document.
  • And finally, press Ctrl + S on a Windows keyboard, or Command () + S on a Mac to save a file. It’s good to get into the habit of doing this often so you don’t accidentally lose your work!

See clearly

Struggling to read that miniscule text on the screen? Instead of leaning forward and squinting, which can be bad for your back and eyes, you can zoom in and out on what you’re seeing with these simple tricks:

  • Hold the Ctrl key on a Windows keyboard, or Command () on a Mac and scroll up on your mouse wheel or track pad to zoom in and make text larger.
  • Hold the Ctrl key on a Windows keyboard, or Command () on a Mac and scroll down on your mouse wheel or track pad to zoom out and make text smaller.

Keep it safe with a few taps

It’s good to get into the habit of locking your computer whenever you get up from the keyboard, especially if you’re working in an office environment or even on a family computer with different profiles for each user set up. When a computer or user profile is locked, it can’t be accessed without entering the right password. In the workplace, it’s a great way to keep data secure and at home, well, it can stop you getting pranked with a new desktop background image.

  • Press the Windows key () + L on a Windows keyboard, or Control (^) + Shift () + Power button on a Mac to lock your computer.

Keep in mind that locking your computer won’t help much if a password isn’t needed to unlock it. If you’re not sure how to set this up, check out this guide for Windows or this guide for Mac.

Creating custom keyboard shortcuts

If you want to know even more about the built-in keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Mac OS, check out these handy guides straight from the software developers:

If you’re getting really serious about using keyboard shortcuts and you want to do more than the default shortcuts let you do, there are third-party software applications that can help.

If you have a Windows computer, WinHotKey is a free software that can be used to create keyboard shortcuts to launch a program, open a specific document or folder, and more. For more advanced users, AutoHotKey is another free software which requires you to set up the scripts behind your keyboard shortcuts, so it has more flexibility but it is a little more complicated to use. How-To Geek has an informative guide on doing creating keyboard shortcuts using AutoHotKey here.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any free software available to do this on Mac OS, which may make the endeavour unappealing to casual users. For the truly dedicated, you may like to consider Keyboard Maestro or Alfred, which both cost around $50AUD or less depending on the type of software license you choose. That said, Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) and later versions of the operating system all include a utility named Automator. While it doesn’t have as much functionality as the third-party software, Automator can still be used to create keyboard shortcuts to open your favourite apps by following this guide.

Do you have a handy keyboard tip or two? Share them with us in the comments.

21 comments

  1. Alan Angelo says:

    I have been using IINET for 15 odd years [would have been longer if could have had access out in the bush]And even tho there was a certain amount of trepidation with change of ownership fortunately nothing has changed.IINET still the best

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the kind words! We’re delighted to hear that you have been with us for so very long and that the service is meeting the same standards that you had when you first joined up. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to lend a hand or if you need any help! We’ll do whatever we can.

      – Leo

  2. sylvia raye says:

    I have been with iinet since it was eisa and then iimetro and now iinet. I would have joined in 2000 maybe earlier. I liked that I was allowed to retain my iimetro address. Always happy with the service.

  3. Ive been with Iinet,for about 15 years,excellent service & personnal to assist,as im not to familar with the computer language-
    Somehow everyrhing works well,if in doubt I have iinet support,great,understanding & plenty of patience,THANKS STAFF at Iinet

  4. Keith says:

    I have been using IINET for 22.5 odd years [maybe I’m just too lazy to change 😉 )

    Last century and in the early noughties I often dialed in from all over Australia (cost of a local call, never timed out by the Daemon :-) ). In Sydney I had to dial in to do online banking because my relatives “unwired” wireless internet was too slow for the banking security protocols.

    It would be REALLY REALLY NICE if I could use some of my Very Generous monthly data by wireless while away from home, particularly in my Climatic Refugee home of Darwin. The availability of the Telstra Pink Phones is a major influence in keeping my mobile phone with Telstra.

  5. Keith says:

    I hate to see typos on screen (I was a proof reader in a previous career) – what ever happened to Grammar Checker?

    If you select this text “which can be back ” and click on Ctrl C, then Ctrl F, then Ctrl V, you can use any of three known methods to change it to read “which can be bad ” which I’m sure was the intention of the author.

    I realize I could have triple clicked to select that entire paragraph, from “Struggling” to “tricks:”, but that would not have highlighted the error.

  6. Des Will says:

    I also have been using IInetfor a long time and apart from a refusal by them to acknowledge a mistake they made and totally disbelieved me until I proved otherwise, I have nothing but praise for the people I have dealt with and have extolled their excellent customer service to many, many people

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Des,

      thanks for leaving your kind words! We do sincerely apologise for the previous poor experience as that certainly shouldn’t have happened but we are thankful that you’ve stood by us and that we’ve been able to provide a quality service to you.

      – Leo

  7. Johanna Lagerwey says:

    I got a bit interested by your email and had a look. No longer being into speeding things up I yet would like to share a trick with you. 61 years ago I learned to type. First they got us familiar with the place of the letters, then we had to go without the print on the keys. Then they used marching music and we had to hit each key on the beat. First slowly and then the tempo got gradually increased till we were ready for the exam. It stayed with me forever. Regretfully the rest of the body has not kept up with tempo. Cheers

  8. Sasha Verma says:

    I have been using IINET for the last 8 years and I am extremely satisfied with what they offer both in terms of service and quality. I wish though that they would become cheaper as my friends in the UK only pay the equivalent of $25 for a similar service. Maybe NBN will push them towards this???

  9. Glynn Ford says:

    I have been using ozemail an iinet service for 25 years, guess I’m either due for Long Service Leave or a Gold Watch.

  10. Kerry says:

    I’ve been with iinet for 20 years and 6 months. I seem to remember Mick Malone shaking my hand one night in the Irish Club in Subiaco when he moved his operation from his garage. I should have charged him for the advice I gave him.

  11. Susan Lacey says:

    I’m a seriously ancient iiNet user – started with Ozemail back in the very early 1990’s with dial-up, then with Broadband and then ADLS Turbo 2…went onto NBN FTTP about 3 years ago. Total of 27 years all up – Never been with anyone else because the product works for me at a great rate with good back-up.

  12. Gordon says:

    Since the days of DOS, I’ve continued to use a few keyboard shortcuts for convenience. Yet thanks for the heads up to a wider range and some that I’d forgotten.

  13. Steve says:

    A minor comment. Under “Keeping it safe with a few taps” the keystrokes Control (^) + Shift (⇧) + Power button will only lock your mac if under System Preferences from the Apple menu, you have set in Security & Privacy > General the checked box “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins.”

  14. H. Smith says:

    If early 90s is ancient, I’m not sure what I am. Started with iinet in 1983 or 1984. It’s been my address ever since.

    Granny Smith

  15. JudY jarvis says:

    Like Susan Lacey of the th 7th June, I’m a seriously ancient iiNet user – started with Ozemail back in the very early 1990’s with dial-up, then with Broadband and then ADLS Turbo 2 and about to start seriously thinking of Rocketfast prior to NBN. Must be 25 or 26 years, Malcolm Turnbull was at the helm. Never been with anyone else because the product and the service has always been excellent for me. I’ve never need theft more than generous data allowances from time to time and could have wishes for a discount instead, but that’s a fairly minor gripe. Thank you Ozemail come iiNet.

  16. Ron Koenig says:

    I started when the NZ company tig opened in Sydney. The CD that came with the starter pack had a introduction video instructing me to select the North Island, the South Island or the West Island (Australia). Later tig became ihug and then iinet. Great service and reasonably priced. Great tech support. ADSL+ gives me around 20Mbs and I hope the NBN (from a 30 year old foxtel cable) fill not give me a problematic service when it comes. Bring on FTTP and scrap the obsolete HFC.

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