Text by: Maggie Wong
I used to be a "clicking" computer user. I used the mouse to navigate through everything, whether it's opening or closing a browser tab or using the History function to find a web page I accidentally closed. All of this was before I started my first full-time job, a large part of which was to verify and input data. What I learned was that the mouse is only useful when you are trying to do something your keyboard cannot do on its own.
In this post, I would like to share some common keyboard shortcuts (in Windows) that have saved me a great deal of time and improved my work efficiency. It may take time to remember these shortcut keys, but once you have started using them, you will build up muscle memory and it will just become second nature to operate the computer in this new and more efficient manner.
Copy & Paste
This should already be a piece of cake for most people. The most common shortcut - copy and paste are Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V.
Now let's talk about the browser.
Open a new tab / Move from tab to tab
When I need to look up a topic, I will open a new tab to do a search. But, instead of pointing my cursor to that parallelogram button on the browser, I simply press Ctrl+T.
Let's say I have found 20 webpages and the tabs are minimized to the point where the titles are no longer visible. If I need to refer back to one of the open webpages, instead of clicking each tab individually and risking closing one by mistake, I simply use Ctrl+Tab to go to the next tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab to go to the previous. These shortcuts allow me to easily browse through my open tabs both forward and backward.
PS: Shift is used to go backward in another common situation. When you are filling out an e-form, you can go to the next box by pressing Tab or you can go back to the previous box by using Shift+Tab!
Go to a specific tab
Besides going forward and backward, I can also be flexible and go to a specific tab by using Ctrl+(number of the tab). For example, I have opened 20 webpages and I wanted to check my Facebook which is the second tab in the browser. I can use Ctrl+2 to go directly to my Facebook tab.
Close a tab & Reopen a closed tab
If I am done with the webpage in one of my open tabs, instead of moving my cursor to the cross sign to close it, I just press Ctrl+W. Be careful though, Ctrl+Shift+W will close your entire browser!
If I have mistakenly closed a tab and would like to bring it back right away, I can reopen it using Ctrl+Shift+T. This shortcut is very handy!
Reopen the entire browser
Remember that you can close an entire browser window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+W. If ever you did this by mistake, I would simply open a new browser and then pressed Ctrl+Shift+T. Your previous browser and its tabs will be brought back to life!
PS: Did you notice that Ctrl+Shift+T is the same shortcut as reopening a closed tab? (Not applicable to Incognito though!)
Open a new browser window
To make my webpages more organized and easy to refer to, I would use different browser windows for different things. For example, professional readings in one browser window and work related webpages in another. To open a new browser window, simply press Ctrl+N or if you need to be discreet, use Ctrl+Shift+N to open an Incognito browser window.
Different browsers may have different keyboard shortcuts. The above tips work well with Chrome and Firefox.
What I have shared above is only a fraction of the many useful keyboard shortcuts you can use to improve efficiency. I am getting more obsessed with keyboard shortcuts not only when I am browsing, but when I am using different software and even navigating through folders in Windows. It eliminates a lot of unnecessary movements and thus saves time. Give it a try and see whether it makes your browser navigation experience more fluent, efficient and fun!
Here's a summary of the shortcuts covered in this post:
What are your favourites? Feel free to share in the comments below!