Looking for computer help? Every week, our Tekspert answers one question about digital technology. Computers, tablets, phones, cameras…
What do you do when you want to print something on your computer or close out of an application? How about when you need to copy and paste? If you use your cursor and the drop-down menu at the top of your screen, then I’ve got good news for you: There’s an easier way.
Whether you are using a PC or a Mac, your computer has built-in keyboard shortcuts for a number of actions. You can even use a keyboard shortcut to undo a mistake you just made, or to scroll up or down a webpage. Using keyboard shortcuts is much faster, because your hands aren’t going back and forth between your mouse or trackpad and your keyboard, and they make your life easier. If you’re having any pain in your hands, using the keyboard instead of the mouse when possible can save exacerbating it.
While you’re learning these shortcuts, you might have to reference this list. Use the black “Print” button at the top of the page to bring up a printable version so you can keep it handy.
Wherever you see the “+” sign below, depress both keys at once. In other words, in where you see “Control + F” depress the “Control” key and the “F” key at the same time.
Log In or say “Okay” You don’t always have to use your cursor to click the “log in” or “sign in” button after you’ve entered your password. Instead you can just hit the “Enter” key on your PC or your or “Return” key on your Mac. The same thing goes for the “okay” button; just hit “Enter” or “Return.”
Find a word or phrase When you want to quickly locate a particular word or phrase in a large amount of text, whether in a document, in an email or on a webpage, just hit these keys:
PC Control + F
Mac ⌘Command + F
A small search bar will appear near the top right or bottom left of your screen, where you can type the word or phrase you’re looking for. Then hit the “Enter” or “Return” key to have your computer conduct the search.
Scroll up, down or sideways Instead of using your cursor on the scroll bar, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard. The “up” arrow scrolls up, the “down” arrow scrolls down, and the left and right arrow will scroll horizontally if you happen to be a web page that’s wider than your computer screen.
Print This shortcut works both in word processing applications like Microsoft Word and in web browsers like Safari or Internet Explorer. You can also use this shortcut if you need to print an email confirmation (like a receipt or a ticket for an event.) While this shortcut is handy, if you’re printing something from the web, first look for a little printer icon on the webpage you want to print. This will provide you a printer-friendly version that’s easier to read on paper.
PC Control + P
Mac ⌘Command + P
Undo your mistake Made a mistake? Did you accidentally delete something or did a document you were working on suddenly go blank? Don’t panic! That’s what the undo shortcut is for. Hit these keys and see the magic.
PC Control + Z
Mac ⌘Command + Z
Redo what you undid This is the opposite of undo; you can also easily redo your last action.
PC Control + Y
Mac shift + ⌘Command + Z
Quit When you’re finished browsing the web or working in an application, you can quickly close the program with this shortcut. Just make sure you are actually in the application you want to close. Look at the top left of your computer screen to see which application you are in at the moment.
PC Control + F4
Mac ⌘Command + Q
Reveal your desktop Sometimes, when you have one or more windows open, you need to look at your desktop; to do that without closing or minimizing your windows, use this shortcut.
PC Window + D or Window + M. Then use Window + Shift + M to bring back the windows that were open.
Mac F11. Then press F11 again to bring back all the windows.
Copying and Pasting
Once you’re a pro at copying and pasting (click here to read our Tech Tip on how to copy and paste text), you can move even faster with these keyboard shortcuts.
Select all Instead of dragging your cursor to select all the text on a page, you can quickly highlight that text with a keyboard shortcut.
PC Control + A
Mac ⌘Command + A
Copy Highlight text that’s in an email or a Microsoft Word document, or highlight the URL in your web browser; then use this shortcut to copy it.
PC Control + C
Mac ⌘Command + C
Paste Once you’ve copied text, use this keyboard shortcut to paste it where you want it to go.
PC Control + V
Mac ⌘Command + V
Browser Specific Shortcuts
You probably spend a lot of time online, so use these keyboard shortcuts to get around on the Internet more quickly.
Go back to a previous webpage Instead of hitting the browser back button to return to the page you were just on, you can simply hit the backspace or delete key on your keyboard.
Close a browser window (without quitting the application) If you’d like to close one window or webpage, but still want keep your browser open, use this shortcut.
PC Control + W
Mac ⌘Command + W
Open a new window To open a new browser window so you can go to a new webpage, use this shortcut.
PC Control + N
Mac ⌘Command + N
Open a new tab Instead of opening a new window, you might want to open a new tab when you want to go to a new webpage. You can easily toggle between tabs at the top of your browser window to move between different webpages.
PC Control + T
Mac ⌘Command + T
These basics are a great starting point. If you’d like to learn about other shortcuts, check out a more in-depth list of keyboard shortcuts for Windows by clicking here and keyboard shortcuts for Mac here. This table of keyboard shortcuts is also helpful.
Got a question? Ask it in the comments box below, or email it to [email protected]