Every once in a while there comes an innovation that improves how we do everything. Some may say that the wheel was revolutionary. Others may claim that it was the telephone. Still others will say it’s virtual reality or something.
I say not to those. None of them hold a candle to one of my favorite things in this world.
It’s a feature that makes me feel productive and look like a rock star on my computer. Granted, I’m a pretty tame rock star in comparison to Robert Plant, Jimi Hendrix, or Joan Jett, but I still feel cool.
I’m talking about keyboard shortcuts.
Yes, keyboard shortcuts. I agree that this feature isn’t going to land itself anywhere on a list of “Sexiest Innovations,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating. In fact, I’m going to write a whole post celebrating it.
Come on and join me, won’t you? 🎉
What Are Keyboard Shortcuts?
I’m glad you asked, internet friend.
A keyboard shortcut is a key or combination of keys that, when pressed, perform an action on a computer without having to use a mouse.
In other words, I press a key on my keyboard and something happens on my computer. No mousing around. No clicking five times to paste some text with special formatting. No more tapping on a screen all the time.
In my quest to become a certified productivity master, it became obvious pretty quickly that moving my hand back and forth between my keyboard and my iPad screen was time that I didn’t need to spend. Those small fractions of time add up.
Forget clicking and dragging over some text, moving my mouse up to the menu bar, clicking on “Edit,” and then selecting “Copy.” Now I just press CMD+C.
Bam. Text, you just got copied.
The benefits start becoming more apparent when you delve into advanced programs. When working on films, I would spend a significant amount of time in a program called Adobe Premiere Pro CC. That’s a high level video and audio editing program with a massive amount of features.
Every action I take when editing a film can be accomplished by clicking around with my mouse, but I can guarantee doing things that way would add minutes (and probably even hours) to my editing time.
I would be silly to give up that much of my time when I don’t have to. The same goes for other programs of any difficulty level.
What’s So Bad About a Mouse?
Nothing at all really. I love a good mouse. They helped change computing in a big way when they were popularized by Apple in the ‘80s.
There are some actions on a computer that can’t be accomplished without a mouse (or tapping on an iPad screen). It has a clear and useful place on a computer.
What I’m advocating for here is speed. Again, why move a mouse around or tap on a screen when I can accomplish the same action with the press of a key? My fingers are on the keyboard. I want to keep them there.
This desire becomes even stronger whenever I’m working on my iPad. I love the power and capability of this device, but I’ll readily admit that a touch interface isn’t the ideal way to control it when I want to get work done.
I have my iPad attached to a an Apple Smart Keyboard, as you can see in this photo:
The distance between the keyboard and the screen is only a matter of a few inches, but when I have to take my hands off the keyboard and lift them to the screen several times a day it becomes a nuisance.
Being able to zip around between applications, search for information, and perform complex actions in apps by pressing on a combination of keys completely erases that pain point.
When I’m able to keep my hands on the keyboard, my work sings. When I take them off the keyboard, it feels like I’m working in molasses.
Which Shortcuts Should You Know
There’s a whole universe of keyboard shortcuts out there. Between Apple computers, Windows computers, and all the various programs you could possibly run, it would be an impossible task to list everything.
However, there are some universal shortcuts. These are the keyboard combinations that’ll improve your speed and make you look like a computer wizard.
Basic Keyboard Shortcuts
- New: CMD+N/CTRL+N
- Open: CMD+O/CTRL+O
- Save: CMD+S/CTRL+S
- Save As...: CMD+SHIFT+S/CTRL+SHIFT+S
- Close: CMD+W/CTRL+W
- Quit: CMD+Q/CTRL+Q
- Cut: CMD+X/CTRL+X
- Copy: CMD+C/CTRL+C
- Paste: CMD+V/CTRL+V
- Select All: CMD+A/CTRL+A
- Undo: CMD+Z/CTRL+Z
- Redo: CMD+SHIFT+Z/CTRL+SHIFT+Z
- Print: CMD+P/CTRL+P
- New Tab: CMD+T/CTRL+T
There’s always an investment of time when it comes to learning something new. If keyboard shortcuts aren’t how you normally interact with your computer, then I won’t guarantee you’re going to immediately start saving time.
As with all things technology related, spending some time learning how to do something new will pay off in the future. That I can guarantee.
I’ve been using computers for nearly all my life. Learning how to use keyboard shortcuts and dedicating the ones I use most to memory has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself.
I save time, I feel more productive, and I look pretty awesome while doing it. I mean, who out there hasn’t wanted to look like a cool computer hacker straight out of the movies?
Give keyboard shortcuts a chance. They just may change everything for you.
CMD+LOVE you, cats.