Top keyboard shortcuts to boost your productivity
Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time and reduce the need to reach for your mouse or trackpad. If you find yourself doing repetitive actions on your computer, using keyboard shortcuts will boost your efficiency and save you time.
Keyboard shortcuts can also make everyday processes like document processing and organising files feel effortless. Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, you have a range of exciting and time-saving shortcuts at your disposal that you probably don’t know about yet. To help you get started, we’ve collated the most useful ones here for you.
You might be used to relying on your trackpad or mouse, but that’s no reason to avoid using keyboard shortcuts. You can close apps, operate the finder, and copy and paste while keeping your fingers on the keyboard. If you’d like to see all the shortcuts while working on your Mac, download the CheatSheet app. Once you have it installed, you only have to hold the Command key down to see a list of keyboard shortcuts.
Some of the most useful general shortcuts to learn about include the following.
- Quit apps quickly – Command + Q
- Close app (not shut down) – Command + W
- Minimise app – Command + M
- Hide app – Command + H
- Force quit stuck apps – Command + Option + Esc, then select app and click Force Quit
- Shift between open apps – Command + Tab or Command + Shift + Tab to reverse direction
- Copy – Command + C
- Select all – Command + A
- Cut – Command + X
- Paste – Command + V
- Undo – Command + Z
- Redo – Command + Y
Use the Finder to navigate through files right from your keyboard, without using your mouse. You probably won’t be able to remember and make use of all the Finder shortcuts available for Mac, so choose a few for your go-to actions and start saving time.
- New Finder window – Command + N
- New folder – Shift + Command + N
- Close all finder windows – Option + Command + W
- Duplicate selected file(s) – Command + D
- Move selected item to trash – Command + Delete
Sleep, logout, and shutdown
- Forced restart – Control + Command + Power
- Put display to sleep – Control + Shift + Power button or Control + Shift + Media Eject
- Quit all apps and restart – Control + Command + Media Eject
- Log out of your Mac OS account – Shift + Command + Q for with confirmation or Option + Shift + Command + Q for no confirmation
Move the cursor to where you’d like to insert the emoji, then press Command + Ctrl before pressing the spacebar. This launches the characters palette. Click on the Emoji icon in the sidebar on the left side of the Character window. Double click the emoji you’d like to use and it’ll be inserted where your cursor is. Click on the red close window button in the upper left to close the palette.
Shortcuts for PC
As a PC user, you might have a few go-to keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + V and Ctrl + C for paste and copy, but learning a few more shortcuts could see you massively boosting your productivity in front of your computer.
Working with text
- Paste as plain text – Ctrl + Shift + V
- Select all text – Ctrl + A
- Open Find field to search text in current application (where supported by app) – Ctrl + F
- Move cursor a word at a time – Ctrl + Left Arrow or Ctrl + Right Arrow
- Highlight text – Shift + arrow key or Shift + Ctrl + arrow key to highlight a whole word at a time
- Microsoft Thesaurus lookup – Highlight word and Shift + F7
- Delete a full word at a time – Ctrl + Backspace
Managing windows and tabs
- Switch between open programs – Alt + Tab or Ctrl + Tab to reverse direction
- Switch between tabs in current program – Ctrl + Tab
- Snap windows next to each other – Windows Key + Left Arrow or Windows + Right Arrow
- Minimise all windows and show desktop – Windows Key + M
- Reopen last closed tab in Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Internet Explorer – Ctrl + Shift + T
- Bookmark website in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge – Ctrl + D and confirm
- Refresh webpage – F5 or Ctrl + R
Managing programs and files
- Open File Explorer – Windows Key + E
- Close all programs – Alt + F4
- Close all desktop programs – Ctrl + W
- Lock PC – Windows Key + L
Take a screenshot
Press the PrtSc (Print Screen) key for a screenshot of your display, or Alt + PrtSc to capture a screenshot of the active window.
- If you have DropBox installed, your screenshot will be automatically saved to DropBox.
- If you use Windows 8 or 10, press Windows Key + PrtSc to save to your picture directory and the Screenshots folder.
- You can also open Paint and press Ctrl + V to paste the image and save it in different formats.
Miscellaneous shortcuts for all platforms
If you use popular platforms like Gmail or add extra expression to your emails and messages with emojis, try these shortcuts next time.
Gmail on Windows or Mac
- Send message – Command/Ctrl + Enter
- Add CC recipients – Command/Ctrl + Shift + c
- Add BCC recipient – Command/Ctrl + Shift + b
- Insert link – Command/Ctrl + k
- Decrease text size – Command/Ctrl + Shift + –
- Increase text size – Command/Ctrl + Shift and +
The shortcuts below won’t work unless you turn on Keyboard Shortcuts in Gmail. You can do this by clicking on settings in the top right, clicking on Settings, scrolling down to Keyboard Shortcuts, and clicking on Save Changes once you’ve selected Keyboard Shortcuts.
- Archive message – e
- Delete – #
- Reply – r
- Reply all – a
- Forward – f
- Mark as read – Shift + i
- Mark as unread – Shift + u
If you’re passionate about your emojis, you can download an app like EmojiOne and use it on Mac, in Chrome and Firefox, and Instagram. Learn the shortcodes and you’ll harness everything from the smiley face to a bunch of awesome emojis ranging from cats (:smiley_cat:) to vampires (:man_vampire:).
Using keyboard shortcuts to up your typing game
Keyboard shortcuts take a bit of time to learn, but it’s worthwhile using them for your most repeated tasks. Once you’ve mastered them they’ll become second nature, frequently saving you from reaching for the mouse.