Work Faster with Keystrokes on Windows and Mac

It’s surprising to me how many people who spend a considerable time in front of a computer (don’t we all these days) rarely if ever use keystrokes. It might be the #1 habit (maybe #2 after getting them to switch to Firefox or anything but IE) that I would break in most computer users. If you don’t use keystrokes then I encourage you to learn the most common basic keystrokes listed below to speed things up and make it easier on you while working. The following list is by no means comprehensive but will give you the more common keystrokes.

Command Windows Mac Notes
Cut/Delete (to clipboard) CONTROL+X COMMAND+X Select whatever you want and cut it! Will copy whatever you cut to the clipboard to put somewhere else.
Copy (to clipboard) CONTROL+C COMMAND+C Select something and copy it. Leaves it there but creates a copy on the clipboard for use elsewhere.
Paste from Clipboard CONTROL+V COMMAND+V Paste the last item copied to the clipboard.
Undo last action CONTROL+Z COMMAND+Z Undo whatever you just did. In some applications you can undo several steps back, in others only one.
Save CONTROL+S COMMAND+S Save the document or file you are currently working on. If you learn only one keystroke learn this one and use it a lot so you don’t loose work!
Select All CONTROL+A COMMAND+A Select all/everything. Exactly how this works will depend on the application you are working in.
Open CONTROL+O COMMAND+O Open an existing document in the application you are working in.
New CONTROL+N COMMAND+SHIFT+N Create a new file, document, web browser window, new “whatever” you are working in.
Bold CONTROL+B COMMAND+B Bold text. Either turn it on then start typing or highlight existing text and bold it.
Italic CONTROL+I COMMAND+I Italicize text. Either turn it on then start typing or highlight existing text and italicize it.
Underline CONTROL+U COMMAND_U Underline text. Either turn it on then start typing or highlight existing text and underline it.
Refresh CONTROL+R COMMAND+R Typically refresh a browser window but could refresh a window in any number of applications.
Save As CONTROL+SHIFT+A COMMAND+SHIFT+A Save a copy of whatever you are working on and give it a different name. *Note, keystroke doesn’t work in Office 7.
Find CONTROL+F COMMAND+F Open up the “Find” dialogue box to search for something in a web browser, document, spreadsheet…

If I had to pick 5 from the list to force rank it’s the keystrokes for Save, Cut, Copy, Paste and Undo. Undo is especially good, if you ever do something (hit a key, click, whatever…) and everything suddenly looks nuts or didn’t do what you want, just it Control+Z to quickly roll it back.

Have fun and once you start using these trust me, you will never go back!

If you want to learn more keystrokes, you can look under your application menu at the top. Next to keystroke enabled commands most file menus will tell you what keystroke applies to that file. See the picture below for an example of what I am talking about.


Keystroke Examples

Leave a Comment