Essential Time-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Essential, time-saving keyboard shortcuts matter to people who spend much of their working time at the computer. Many are pleased just to get the computer to do what they need, and are unwilling to invest time in being able to navigate around the operating system with more efficiency. Enormous benefit would result from spending just 20 minutes a day exploring the advantages of the basic keyboard shortcuts.

If a stopwatch were used to analyse the potential time savings over a working day for an already competent computer user, it is unlikely there will be calls for champagne. What there will be, is a better understanding of the operating system and a smoother workflow, allowing a more constructive use of time. Over the course of a month, the better efficiency will show a more significant time-saving.

For all computer users, repetition of the same or similar tasks is what fills most of the working day. As it is rare to meet with a piece of work that requires a completely new approach, it can be assumed that using a few basic keyboard shortcuts will save time. Instead of reaching for the mouse or moving the cursor around, using shortcuts will simplify the mechanics of navigating around the various tasks on the desktop and also, make better use of the operating system.

For Mac OS users, opening the ‘Systems Preferences’ window, selecting ‘Keyboard & Mouse’ and choosing ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ at the top of the window, will give a long list of available shortcuts. Most useful for normal use is the section headed ‘ Keyboard Navigation’. Trying out a few of these will give a feel for what can be achieved by simply pressing the keys – rather than trying to get the mouse to do its stuff.

In the Keyboard Navigation list, moving the ‘focus’ is of prime importance. Once the focus is moved to, say, the menu bar, you can access all the menus by typing the first letters of the items on the bar, or by scrolling left or right. Pressing ‘Enter’ or scrolling down will open the menu. Each item can be reached by typing the first letter of the listed options or by scrolling up or down. Often there are other keyboard commands that can be used, shown to the right hand side of the menu opposite the item to be selected.

To open Safari:

fn/ ctrl/ F3/ will access the dock.

s/ will select Safari.

Enter/ will open the browser.

While using Safari:

fn/ ctrl/ F2/ will access the Menu Bar.

b/ will select the Bookmarks page.

Enter/ will open the Bookmarks page.

There are many ways to get work done without using the mouse or using the curser on a laptop computer. The more familiar one is with how the various applications behave, the more creatively one can navigate around the desktop.

For instance: using TextEdit to write and for reference, having the Dictionary open for definitions and for the Thesaurus, one will have two open applications at the same time. Being able to switch from using one to the other is very easy to do using keyboard shortcuts.

To open TextEdit:

fn/ ctrl/ F3/ will access the dock.

t/ will select TextEdit.

Enter/ will open TextEdit – and you are able to start writing!

To open Dictionary:

fn/ ctrl/ F3/ will access the dock.

d/ will select the Dictionary.

Enter/ will open Dictionary.

You now have two windows open on the Desktop. To move the focus from TextEdit to Dictionary:

F3/ will show all the open windows on the desktop – often reducing the size of each.

Scroll left or right to select the Dictionary window.

Enter will activate the Dictionary.

Press and hold (cmd) while pressing 1/ will select the Dictionary part of the application.

Press and hold (cmd) while pressing 2/ will select the Thesaurus part of the application.

To move back to TextEdit:

F3/ will show all the open windows on the desktop.

Scroll left or right to select TextEdit.

Enter/ and you are back where you were and ready to continue writing.

With a little practice, the basic principles are easy to grasp. Finding out which ones can serve you best will be easy, and very soon, you too, will be thinking of these keyboard shortcuts as time-saving and essential. Being able to what is required without using ‘mice’ is more professional. Keyboard shortcuts make using the computer more rewarding as well!

by: Steve Burden

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