Friday, November 28, 2014

5 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts Pros Use

5 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts Pros Use

Computers can be frustrating. There, I said it. (I hope I didn't shock anyone.)

One big frustration is that things you think would be fast are really slow. For example, you're in the middle of typing up a letter and you decide to be a good computer user and save it.

So, you move your hand off the keyboard and over to the mouse, move the mouse up to the program's toolbar, hunt around for the Save icon, click it and then move your hand back to the keyboard. Often during those long seconds, your train of thought is totally derailed.

Fortunately, this is one frustration you don't have to live with. With just a few split-second key presses, you can perform many common computer tasks that would require several mouse movements and clicks. Talk about a time-saver!

While there are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts you can use - and I list most of them in my downloadable shortcut guides for Windows and Mac - there are five that I use nearly every day. In fact, every computer user should know these ones.

First I should explain how keyboard shortcuts work. When written, a keyboard shortcut looks like this: CTRL + S

That just means to press the "Control" key and the "S" key at the same time.

Hitting multiple keys at the exact same second isn't easy, so most people press and hold the Control key first (there's no time limit, so don't feel like you have to rush) and then hit the "S" key.

Once you've pressed both, you can release them. It's no different than using the Shift key to type a capital letter. Over time, it becomes second nature.

So, on to the shortcuts!


Windows: CTRL + S
Mac: CMD + S

The first thing I stress to anyone learning to use a computer is SAVE YOUR WORK OFTEN! You never know when the program you're using, or your entire computer, is going to crash.

Anything you haven't saved will be lost. I've seen people spend hours writing a paper and never saving once! Then, Word crashes and it's all gone, forever.

For the last decade, many programs have included auto-save features that save your work every 5 to 10 minutes. That's fine as a last resort, but I still prefer to make a habit of manual saving. It comes in handy when you use programs that don't have auto-save.

That's why the CTRL + S shortcut is so handy. It works in nearly every program in existence and takes only a fraction of a second to type. You don't have to take your hands off the keyboard and move the mouse cursor up to the Save icon.

When writing, I generally press CTRL + S after every few sentences I type or whenever I pause for a new thought.


Windows: CTRL + Z
Mac: CMD + Z

One of the best things about using a computer for content creation is the Undo feature. With a typewriter, handwriting or traditional photo manipulation, undoing a mistake is a major process.

With a computer, the Undo button give you the freedom to experiment and makes mistakes, and then change things back if you don't like it. I use it all the time when editing photos.

Many beginning computer users don't even realize Undo exists. I've seen even more advanced users not fully appreciate how powerful it can be.

Using the CTRL + Z shortcut, you can undo a mistake very quickly. Hitting CTRL + Z several times will often undo the last several changes. If you go too far back, hit CTRL + Y to Redo.

Copy and Paste

Windows: CTRL + C and CTRL + V
Mac: CMD + C and CMD + V

Another joy of using a computer is copying and pasting. It makes moving text, photos, files, folders and everything else a breeze.

Every program has Copy and Paste icons, and if you right-click on files and folders in Windows, you'll see Copy and Paste as options. For those who do a lot of copying and pasting, however, the keyboard shortcuts are a big time saver.

See also: 5 more great keyboard shortcuts to save time and energy.

Just use the mouse to select what you want to copy, hit CTRL + C, click the mouse where you want to paste, and hit CTRL + V. You're done!

Bonus tip: In cases where you want to move something instead of copy it, use CTRL + X to Cut instead of CTRL + C to Copy.

Lock your screen

Windows: Windows Key + L
Mac: CTRL + Shift + Power Button

Whether you're using a public computer or stepping away from your work desk for a moment, you're taking a risk. If your browser has saved passwords or important files, anyone could easily steal them with only a few keystrokes.

While putting your computer into sleep mode is an easy way to lock your screen, there's a keystroke that can solve all of your problems. First, be sure that your computer needs a password to be woken up from sleep mode.

Check out my tips that explain how to set up passwords for both OSX and Windows if you want to make sure that your security is up to par.

From there, any time you need to keep your computer safe when you make a trip to the restroom, just lock your screen. That way, no one will be able to touch your computer without a password.

Shut down problem programs

Windows: CTRL + ALT + DEL (also known as "the 3-finger salute")
Mac: CMD + OPT + ESC

Years ago, this is the first keyboard shortcut most people learned. In the olden days of computers, it rebooted your computer if it was acting up, which happened quite a bit. You could solve a lot of problems with these three keys.

Bonus history: CTRL + ALT + DEL was first added to computers in the '80s by David Bradley, an engineer at IBM. He wanted a quick way to reboot test systems that were locked. Ironically, he never intended for the public to actually use it.

In modern computers, CTRL + ALT + DEL either brings up Task Manager, or a list of options including Task Manager. Task Manager is useful for killing programs that are acting up or unresponsive. Plus, you can see what is slowing down your system.

Not enough shortcuts for you? Here are 5 more handy keyboard shortcuts that everyone should know.

And why not get your mouse in on the action. I can tell you 5 ways to use it more effectively.

Don't forget that I sell shortcut guides in my store. These list nearly every shortcut you could ever want for Windows and Mac in a convenient format. Click here to find these and other great guides. — Kim Komando |

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