How to Use Keyboard Shortcut Keys to Operate the Computer


You can operate a computer almost entirely through shortcut keys on the keyboard. The most important step--and possibly the most challenging--is committing the shortcuts to memory. If you take the time to learn the essential computer shortcuts, you will save time in the long run.

Things You'll Need

  • Keyboard
  • Memorize the most frequently used operations. In many cases, these will be selecting text, copying or cutting, and pasting. Both Mac and Windows operating systems have similar commands for this. In Windows, Copy is CTRL + C; Cut is CTRL + X; Select All is CTRL + A; and Paste is CTRL + V. These commands on a Mac are achieved with the same combinations but by using the "Command" button (the one with an apple icon on it) instead of the control button. So, to Copy, for instance, you would press COMMAND + C. All you need to remember for these simple operations are C,X, A, and V, and it will save you many mouse-trips to the File menu.

  • Learn the function of the "Tab" key. While responding to a cursor in a document, the "Tab" key simply indents. But the "Tab" is also particularly useful when filling out forms, as it allows you to make the cursor "jump" between text fields. For instance, if you are completing an online job application, you can simply hit "Tab" when you are done writing your first name and want to move to the "last name" field, as opposed to dragging the mouse over to the next field and clicking.

  • Memorize the shortcuts for the programs you use most often. For instance, if you browse the Internet often and like multiple tabs on the browser, it might be useful to learn that the command in most browsers for a new tab is CTRL + T (or COMMAND + T in Macs), while the shortcut for a new browser window is CTRL or COMMAND + N. Also, in many programs where you need to save work often, such as in word processing or video editing, the "Save" command is typically CTRL or COMMAND + S. Every program should have a list of shortcuts in the manual under the "Help" menu.

  • Print a copy of other shortcuts and learn the ones relevant to your work. There are about 100 shortcuts in Windows, according to Microsoft, so it may behoove you to print a copy of all the shortcuts and then highlight the ones that you might find useful regularly. Every time you perform a function, look to the list of shortcuts. Soon enough, after performing the operation often enough, the shortcut will become second nature.

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