10 Computer Shortcuts: Obvious to Techies but Unknown to the Rest (Plus: New World Record)


I’ll cover my head in shame: I only discovered keyboard shortcuts about a year ago. There, I said it.

Here are a few shortcuts that take out excessive mouse use and — cumulatively over thousands of computer movements per week — save hours and hours.

There a million and one “shortcuts,” but learning them all takes forever. The headache savers below are those I use almost every time I touch a computer. Though self-evident to most techies, I hope a few Luddites like me will find them a revelation. If using a Mac, use the Cmd key instead of Ctrl…

For Firefox (get off of the slow and virus-prone Internet Explorer):

Ctrl-K – Takes you directly to the search box at the upper right, where you can search Google, Amazon, and more with one click (Enter)

Ctrl-L or F6 (latter PC) – Takes you to the URL field to type in a new web address (Hint: just type in the name of a company or person — no “www” or “.com” — and hit enter to find their website, if it exists)

Ctrl-T – Opens a new tab

Ctrl-D – Bookmarks the page

Ctrl-+ – Increases font size on any webpage

Ctrl-[-]- Decreases font size

Ctrl-0 [zero] – Returns font to original size

For Gmail:

First, go to “settings” to the upper-right of your inbox and turn on keyboard shortcuts. There are a lot of them, but there are my faves:

c – compose a new message
tab + return/enter – send message
u – return to inbox (or previous conversation list)
r – reply
a – reply all
f – forward
e – archive

and my favorite of all:

# – delete message

What are your favorite keyboard or computer shortcuts?

Put your computer enthusiasm into a comment and then shut the beast down for the weekend :)

[Did you enjoy this post? Vote for it here and subscribe to this blog — more than 20,000 can’t be wrong :)]


Related links:

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now

12 Filtering Tips for Better Information in Half the Time

Chapter 6 – The Low-Information Diet: Cultivating Selective Ignorance

Odds and Ends:

Congrats to Joe Ceklovsky for his new world record: 600-lb. bench press at 148 lbs. bodyweight! (video here)

I love the sport of powerlifting and have worked with Joe for close to two years. He is not only one of the strongest humans I have ever seen (which is saying a lot — here’s another friend), he is humble and a testament to a sport where success is still measured in performance and not the size of your paycheck. Here is his e-mail to me:

“I have some more news for you. I competed yesterday and broke the record again twice. I hit 575lbs. and then I did 600lbs. which is 4.06 times my bodyweight, which — as of right now — is the biggest pound-for-pound bench press in the history of powerlifting. I also attempted 620 and got it about 3/4 of the way up. This is something I have been aiming for since you did the very first article on me for Powerlifting USA. I thought you would like to know that the goal that you & I discussed in that phone conversation finally has been achieved. I look forward to speaking with you soon.”

Congratulations, Joe! This will go down in the history books. More than 4x bodyweight? Unreal.

Motley Fool article with The 4-Hour Workweek: A Millionaire’s Lifestyle for the Rest of Us

Posted on: January 25, 2008.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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93 comments on “10 Computer Shortcuts: Obvious to Techies but Unknown to the Rest (Plus: New World Record)

  1. The entire post displayed in my RSS reader. Perfect!

    My favorite shortcut in Windows is Alt-Tab->Tab->Tab->etc: Move quickly between windows, and find lost windows


  2. I’m addicted to Alt+Tab for moving from one app to another. Also, Ctrl+tabnumber to move to any tab. Enjoy!

    Sent from my mobile using FeedM8


  3. I recently discovered a tip that has saved heaps of time:

    In Firefox, using the middle (or scrollwheel) button to click on links opens them in a new tab.

    (Entire post showed in Google Reader :)


  4. The entire post displayed in my google reader.

    I really like the Ctrl F shortcut (find) in Firefox. Whenever i’m looking for a certain word or phrase I just hit the ‘highlight all’ button to quickly go through the text and find what i’m looking for.


  5. More useful shortcuts:
    M$ Button L – locks the station. Useful if you go out for 5 minutes and don’t want anyone to change your status in Skype ;)
    M$ Button D (as well as M) – minimizes all the applications
    For Firefox: Ctrl Tab – changes pages in new window


  6. Kind of cheating here, but if you’re a Mac user and haven’t yet discovered these two gems:

    – Quicksilver (free) : http://blacktree.com/projects/quicksilver.html . Here’s quick video tutorial that some dude made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBvFUhTqKK4 .

    – TextPander ($30) : http://www.smileonmymac.com/textexpander/

    Both of them are easy to start using immediately, but expandable over time. Serious time savers!

    Re: RSS, the entire post displayed fine.


  7. Hi Tim,

    My favourite is actually holding down the Ctrl and rolling your middle mouse roller.

    What it does is it zooms in or out your window or increases or decreases your font size.

    It works for almost all windows applications including firefox, IE, Word, Powerpoint etc.

    Try it out!


  8. In Firefox (and IE), to enlarge the font, hold down the CTRL button and use the scroll wheel on the mouse to increase or decrease the size of the text.


  9. Wow, I consider myself an ubernerd (IT security consultant) and I picked up a few new ones. I was going to suggest creating macro’s to speed up small tasks. I use one to paste unformatted text when I’m creating reports, but then I realized, none of us should be spending time with formatting.

    Along with the power button, alt F4 is my favorite (close window).


  10. What a post!
    the shortcuts…i use often…the powerlifting??? i’m not sure what to think about that. I’m going to cancel my home security system and see if Joe can just stand by my front door.


  11. ctrl c / v for copy paste.
    Sadly this wasn’t supposed to be standard and in linux it doesn’t work much so I have to learn using ctrl insert / shift insert instead.

    ctrl f activates find. I use this a lot in firefox to search for words on websites.

    Here’s some nifty features if you have compiz in linux, this is for the people who know how to activate such nifty stuff…

    alt shift uparrow for window selector, it arranges all windows so I can see everything at once and pick the window I want.

    ctrl alt left/right to go to next/previous desktop.

    alt click’n’drag to move a window (doesn’t require compiz I think)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I haven’t been on a desktop machine with a mouse for 8 years now and the more I can stay away from the touchpad, the better.

    In FF:

    * Alt D to get to the address bar
    * Alt Home to go to your homepage (Y! Home Page junkie)
    * Ctrl W to close a tab
    * Ctrl F5 to do a full reload of a page (bypasses cache)

    Windows General:

    * windows key r (opens run) … (changed a bit in vista but you can go back to the old school stuff if you want)

    * after windows key r you can type in a drive letter to open a window for that drive (c:) you can type in a url and open a browser if you don’t already have one open. You can type in an app name (notepad) etc etc

    *ctrl esc works in place of the windows key if you’re on a keyboard w/o the windows key.

    ** Always check your menus and help ( per app ) for a full list of whats avaliable. Search “keyboard shortcuts” .. A quick 5 minute read might shave 5 minutes a day off your computer time.


  13. I am a big fan of key board short cuts. I didn’t know about control-k, so that is a nice one.

    For those who don’t know about the application ActiveWords and are interested in getting some shortcuts on steroids, than you might be interested. If allows you to create your own shortcuts for just about anything you can think of that can be done with the mouse. See http://www.activewords.com/.

    Point of disclosure, I am a user of AW and not an employee. Also, the app is rock solid, which is important, because their support is non-existent for the rare times you might need it.


  14. I agree. Alt Tab is my favorite and most utilized keyboard short cut. Works on PC and Mac.

    Thanks for the google reader suggestion. I’ve been using it for a few days now and it is wonderful. My browsing time has been reduced from 45 minutes to 5 minutes.


  15. Tim,

    My favorite Obvious Shortcut is using “J” and “K” to move down or up one article in Google Reader. (Not that I don’t read every word of your posts…)