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