Tuesday is for Tools: Keyboard Shortcuts


Two things I learned in high school:

  • My most consistently used skill: keyboarding
  • The goal in writing elegant software is “never write anything twice”.

You have used copy and paste, or cut and paste, I am sure. Most people use the cumbersome menus. But when you find yourself typing the same thing again and again, a quick way to copy and paste is to use keyboard shortcuts. This is a combination of keys to do the same thing as a menu. Highlight some text on your screen. Which is faster?

  • Take your hand off the keyboard, reach for the mouse, move the pointer to the EDIT menu, select COPY, return your hand to the keyboard.
  • Hold CTRL (control) and push “C” key.

Using keyboard combinations to avoid mouse/menu interactions has saved me countless hours. CTRL+C and then CTRL+V to paste is the simplest, most useful keyboard combination. (On Apple computers, use the COMMAND instead of the CTRL.) The easiest way to learn the others (and there are many others) is to notice the edit menu. Here, we have the edit menu in PowerPoint.


The CTRL+A, for example, is great for selecting all the text in a document.

Once you start using CTRL+ combinations, you will find another pair that work really well, CTRL+F and CTRL+H to find and replace words or phrases in a document. If you like video, watch this 2-minute tutorial.

More later on not typing things twice with “canned responses” and using “text expander” software.

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