Ten Tech Tips - Shortcut Edition

7 minute read

There’s one thing that nearly all the people I work with comment on and that is how I do certain things. I always find it rather interesting when people comment on it. The thing is, although there are usually several ways to do something and although I’m often aware of most of them, I don’t really realise how much difference there is. Well, that is at least until someone has that perplexed look on their face which is usually swiftly followed by a question along the lines of “Wait… What did you do again?”

Anyway, unsuprisingly these tips are based around efficiency. I believe in efficiency for two reasons, the obvious: it’s logical not to spend unnecessary time or effort doing something and there’s knowledge that can be gained. I’m pretty good at remembering things, especially if it’s something logical like technology. I will often deviate off my goal to learn things in order to save time the next time around. Usually, it’ll be some sort of way to automate a task which would save time if I weren’t learning how to do it from scratch… That’s also ignoring how automating things normally ends up going…

automation Comic by XKCD.

Back to the point of this post, I want to share with you ten things that I do in the hope that you might find them useful (or wonder why I’m doing it that way and suggest a much better way).

1) Task Manager

There are a fair few ways to open task manager but my personal favourites are:

A) Pressing CTRL, SHIFT and ESC simultaneously (especially handy if you don’t have a keyboard). B) Right clicking the taskbar and clicking “Task Manager”.

2) Opening a closed tab in your browser

It’s all too easy to accidentally close a tab but thankfully pressing CTRL, SHIFT and T at the same time will open tabs you’ve closed (works in at least Explorer, Edge and Chrome).

Also, if you’re really clumsy and close the entire browser (or need to for an update or something) reopening it and pressing the same combination will open all the tabs you had open.

3) Undo & Redo

There are a ton of CTRL + (insert letter here) combinations but CTRL + Z and CTRL + Y are two of my favourites. CTRL + Z will undo and CTRL + Y will redo.

A very useful tip for these keys is recovering text from a form you’ve clicked off of or has been cleared due to some random annoying error. Let’s say we’ve spent hours writing the perfect profile description for a website only to be greeted by an error that’s really not helpful like: “Error 42 - Question Can Not Be Found”. Ordinarily we’d probably react in a sort of (insert anger and/or disbelief here) type of way. Fortunately, you can often recover the information by using the browsers back arrows along with CTRL Z. (Although we’re a lot less likely to lose what we’ve written now that backspace doesn’t act as a back arrow in Chrome) You can thank me later.

4) Windows Lock Shortcut

I believe in locking my computer every time I leave it, granted I am an IT guy and if someone were to access my computer they could potentially cause a lot more damage than if they were to access most peoples computers.

The quickest way to lock it is by pressing the Windows Key and L. It quite quickly becomes a habit and I do it automatically when getting up. It does of course rather help if you use a password on your computer (kind of defeats the purpose otherwise). Now, there’s not really any need to lock it all the time at home but if you use a computer at work or school it might be worth a thought (and chances are it’ll earn you bonus points with the IT staff. Unless it’s a shared computer and you’re stopping someone else from using it…)

5) Select All

Very simple one this, if you’re looking at your emails, in a folder or even looking a wall of text and want to select all of them/it then you can just press CTRL and A to select everything. This is usually used when copying/moving/deleting things.

6) CTRL Click

If you want to select let’s say, some pictures from a folder you can press (and hold) CTRL and click on the pictures you want. Holding CTRL allows you to select multiple items at a time.

You can even click and drag over multiple files (by starting in an empty space and not on a file) to speed things up even more.

7) Full Screen & Cycle Tabs

Pressing F11 to make something full screen is a widely known shortcut. What isn’t so widely known is pressing CTRL and TAB to cycle through the open tabs (I use this in Chrome). This works in both normal and full screen views.

8) Scroll Wheel Zoom

This is one a lot of people don’t realise (and do accidentally), if you press and hold CTRL whilst using a scroll wheel you can zoom in and out in a lot of applications.

On laptops, you can usually pinch (and reverse pinch) the touchpad to zoom in and out.

9) Refresh Browser

F5 is a very easy way to refresh a page and there’s a pretty high chance you knew this. I wanted to mention this as an excuse to include another XKCD comic:


Admittedly it requires a bit more tech knowledge than most will have for full comedic value, but it does include the not very well-known CTRL + F5 shortcut which refreshes the page and any files your browser has cached.

Finally, we’ve got the short cut for searching, well I say “the” shortcut when actually there’s two. F3 is the quickest way to open the search box if you’ve got dedicated F keys otherwise CTRL + F might be quicker. The search shortcut is one of my most used shortcuts (for finding emails for instance as I don’t use folders which I’ll talk about in a future post).

Well, I hope you’ve learnt something useful from this post. It was originally going to be a more general “tech tip” list but I realised that most of the things I do are shortcut based and there’s a LOT of “optimisations” you can do so it felt logical to somewhat categorize them. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Short link: on-te.ch/3tse