Lessons I wish someone had told me when I started – hot keys.

This post is about keyboard shortcuts or hot keys. If you are an IT or design professional, there is nothing new here, however you still may learn a little something.

At some level everyone is aware that there must be an easier way to get things done when creating a word document and the truth is your right. When I first started to learn to code I realised that I would very soon be using every key on the keyboard and in often in combination.

The result is I can make the machine do my bidding with a few keystrokes. These are Keyboard shortcuts and some of them work at the operating system level and so it can occasionally get you out of a tight situation.  This is why you can copy text out of a PDF or browser window into a word document, often when you are not even offered the option.

So what are they? Well let’s start with the one we were just talking about. Copy. Select the text you want to copy with the mouse and then press the letter C while pressing the Control key or Ctrl. Then using the mouse place the curser where you would like to Paste the text and press the letter V while holding down the Ctrl key. If you select some text and then go to the icon in the ribbon menu for Copy, you will see the tooltip has (Ctrl+C) written on the right hand side.

Bar none, the best one to know is (Ctrl+Z) which is Undo last. Did you just do something you didn’t mean? (Ctrl+Z) That will get you out of so many different situations.

The list is long and not every program uses the exact same ones but the majority do. Common keyboard shortcuts are :

CTRL+C:            Copy

CTRL+X:            Cut

CTRL+V:            Paste

CTRL+Z:            Undo

CTRL+B:            Bold

CTRL+U:            Underline

CTRL+I:             Italic

CTRL+P:            Print

CTRL+O:           Open

CTRL+N:            New Document

CTRL+S:            Save

CTRL+A:            Select all

The last one is also the source of possibly one of the most distressing things that can happen when you are creating a long document, especially if you can touch type. By pressing Ctrl+A, you select all the text and the next key you press will replace the entire document with whatever you just pressed. I have seen the blood drain from the face of a grown woman at the prospect of losing their entire document. Fortunately the resolution is as easy as CTRL+Z (undo).

Of course the keyboard shortcuts are not just limited to Microsoft Windows, Macs too have their short cuts but they have a key that only appears on their keyboards, Command. I have on too many occasions found myself on a Monday morning wondering where the command key is, and I know I’m not alone. So while it won’t teach you how to write computer code it may save you quite a bit of effort in the future.

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