How important are keyboard shortcuts? Can’t you simply use a mouse for everything? Shortcuts are called that for a reason — they save time. And since most people seem completely unaware of most of the best time-saving shortcuts on the PC, I’ve rounded up the best ones for you today.
Ctrl+F for Find
Let’s start with one of the most useful keyboard shortcuts of all: Ctrl+F. A few of you out there are now rolling your eyes, but you shouldn’t be — a Google employee has data showing 90 percent of people never use the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut.
Press Ctrl+F in almost any application — your Web browser, for example — and you can start typing to find text in the page or document. Yes, most of the people appear to simply skim webpages to find what they’re looking for just as they would on a paper document, rather than using the far more efficient search.
Ctrl-F is for more than just browsers, though. I’ve even seen it work in applications that don’t expose a “Find” option in their menus — it’s like a secret keyboard shortcut that can get you straight to an application’s search function, whether it appears to have one. (Mac users use the Command key instead of the Ctrl key.)
Alt+Tab should be a pretty well known keyboard shortcut by now, but did you know that you can use Ctrl+Tab to cycle between open tabs in your browser? Ctrl+Shift+Tab cycles in reverse. This is basically an Alt+Tab for Web browsers or other applications with tab-based interfaces.
Speaking of browser tabs, you can press Ctrl+T to quickly open a new one — this focuses the address bar, so you can immediately start typing a search or web address. To focus the address bar on your current tab, press Ctrl+L. To close the current tab, press Ctrl+W. (Mac users use Command instead of Ctrl for most of these shortcuts, although Ctrl+Tab is the same on a Mac.)
Copy, Cut, and Paste Text
Don’t forget that Ctrl+C for copy, Ctrl+X for Cut, and Ctrl+V for Paste are critical shortcuts for working with selected text. It’s much faster to select some text with your mouse, press Ctrl+X, click somewhere in a document, and then press Ctrl+V than it is to click the Cut and Paste menus with your mouse.
These are also considered fairly basic keyboard shortcuts, but I’ve seen people use Microsoft Office entirely with the mouse, using the keyboard only to type words and reaching for the mouse whenever they wanted to copy or paste text. That just takes longer.
Many useful keyboard shortcuts make it easier to work with text — another one is Ctrl+Z, which is “undo.” It undoes the last change, allowing you to quickly revert a change without reaching for the mouse.