So you have been told your entire life there are no shortcuts in life, right? Yes, your parents told you to work hard and you could go everywhere you wanted in life. Well, if you are a writer or anyone else who uses a computer, then there are shortcuts to get where you want and quite frankly you’re crazy for not using them.
The shortcuts to your success lie right on your keyboard. A hah, now the understanding is dawning. Along with touch typing which I will touch on (pun intended) in another post shortly, keyboard shortcuts can save you amazing amounts of time.
I’ll give a few examples of useful shortcuts and their uses and then I’ll provide a few links to lists of shortcuts. This post will mostly involve Windows shortcuts because that is the OS I use. I will include any list of Apple commands I can find. Since Linux users already know what the heck they are doing, I figure you don’t need any help. I mean I think they pretty much invented keyboard commands.
Using the mouse takes your hands away from the keyboard. And if you type 80 words per minute like I do, that can really hurt your typing speed. If my hand is on the mouse for 10 seconds, then I have typed 13 fewer words. Given most people who use the computer use the mouse frequently while typing, there can be a great loss of productivity.
One example of lost productivity I can give involves task switching. I often use source material on the internet or social media while I write. It’s part of being a writer and editor. I find myself switching apps/programs every minute or so. So every time my hand leaves the keyboard I’m potentially losing 13 words; over an hour that’s approximately 300 words an hour lost.
To prevent this loss, I use a keyboard command called task switching. Alt+Tab. Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait for you. You can switch between programs in the blink of an eye.
I often use keyboard commands to edit text. If I want to erase something I have just written, I can use Ctrl+Shift+ the arrow keys to highlight text one word or line at a time or even whole paragraphs.
Highlight entire documents at a time with Ctrl+A.
Copy that highlighted text with Ctrl+c or paste it again elsewhere with Ctrl+V or Shift+Insert. If you then want to cut or remove text then place it elsewhere in your document, you can use Ctrl+X (cut text) then Ctrl+V to paste it again.
Have you ever accidentally pressed the Caps Lock key and ended up with an entire paragraph of all caps text? Well, there is a keyboard command in MS Word to fix that. Press Shift+F3 until the text displays with correct capitalization. You don’t want to know how many times I retyped a selection until I learned that command. Just thinking about it gives me the jitters.
Have you ever made a devastating mistake that wrecked your whole project? Well undo it with the undo command the Ctrl+Z I just used that very command more times then I care to mention.
Save early, Save often. Geeze, reminds me of voting in Chicago. You can save your work quickly with the save command Ctrl+S.
Spell check with ease by just pressing the F7 key.
If your cursor is mid-word then you can use the Menu Key, located under your right hand between the Alt Key and the Ctrl Key, which acts like the right click on your mouse.
If you want to open a new program in Windows from Vista up to 10 then just hit the Win key and type what you want in the search box. If you have enabled Cortana, then just hit shift+Win and type what you are looking for from files, internet pages to programs. If you have a menu replacement shell to get a classic view you will need to use Shift+Win to access Cortana. Other shells may have different commands but we aren’t going to go into those.
Commands for Windows Vista
Windows Commands for Windows 7
MS Word General Commands
Ms Word 2007
MS Word 2010
And here are a few resources for our Apple users:
Some general OSX keyboard shortcuts
Some keyboard shortcuts for Word on the Mac
Ok, just in case you’re a Linux newbie, here’s a link to a few shortcuts.