Keyboard shortcuts are a valuable tool in simplifying your workflow. They can be massive time savers and have an incredibly short learning curve. As developers, we rely heavily on shortcuts so that we can spend more time writing code and less time navigating it. We have an entire post dedicated to our favourite developer-specific, but for now, we will focus on the shortcuts that can help anyone, regardless of their job!
One thing to note before we get started, the + sign in the commands is not the plus key, but is just showing that you will combine more than one key! For example, Command + C Just means hit Command and hit C!
Most of us know the classic and most commonly used shortcuts, but I feel it’s best to mention them just in case!
Copy: Highlight the text you want to copy and hit Command + C (Mac) or Ctrl + C (Windows).
Paste: Place your cursor where you want to paste something that is currently copied to your clipboard, and hit Command + V (Mac) or Ctrl + V (Windows)
Save: If you want to save whatever you’re working on, hit Command + S (Mac) or Ctrl + S (Windows)
Print: If you want to quickly print whatever document (or window) you’re on (with some limits depending on programs), hit Command + P (Mac) or Ctrl + P (Windows). This will pop open the print window for you.
Refresh: If you want to refresh the window you’re viewing (usually in the browser, though some applications can also be refreshed), hit Command + R (Mac) or Ctrl + R (Windows).
The Helping Hands
These are ones I use constantly in my day-to-day life and am often surprised to discover that more people aren’t using them. So here are some of my favourite shortcuts that are often overlooked.
Select All Text: To quickly highlight all the text in your current application, hit Command + A (Mac) or Ctrl + A (Windows). This is very universal and works (almost) anywhere. This makes it super easy to copy the text quickly.
Undo: Honestly, if I had to pick one single shortcut to be able to use for the rest of my life, it would probably be this one. Maybe I just change my mind too much or make too many mistakes, but Command + Z (Mac) or Ctrl + Z (Windows) will quickly undo things you just did. Keep hitting it until you've backed up to where you want!
Redo: Woops! If you’re anything like me you always undo something and then realise you actually needed it. Hit Command + Shift + Z (Mac) or Ctrl + Y (Windows) to quickly get it back!
Find: Wanna find a single word you’re looking for in a massive document, or don’t wanna bother reading a whole article to find out if something is in it? Command + F (Mac) or Ctrl + F (Windows) will pop up a box to let you type in the word you’re looking for, and then will allow you to navigate between all instances of the word on the page!
Zoom In: If your eyesight isn’t what it used to be and you swear the text has gotten smaller, simply zoom in by hitting Command + = (Mac) or Ctrl + = (Windows). For clarity, hit the corresponding button for Mac or Windows, and then the key with the + sign on it.
Zoom Out: Whoa okay, I’m not that blind. Zooming out is just as simple as zooming in, just swap the + key for the - key. So Command + - (Mac) and Ctrl + - (Windows) will easily get the job done for you.
It might seem unnecessary to dedicate an entire section to taking screenshots, but there are quite a few different options. Working remotely, I probably take like 50+ screenshots a day, so knowing the easiest way to take a screenshot is essential. There is quite a difference between Mac and Windows for this one, so bear with me.
I want to mention something specific with Mac screenshots. When you take a screenshot on a Mac, a small image of the shot will appear in the bottom right-hand corner. If you leave it be, in a few seconds it will save itself to your desktop. However, if you click on it, it will pop open an edit box so you can mark it up, crop it, or do anything else. Just make sure to save it (Command + S) before closing it.
With Macs, if you drag the screenshot from the small pop-up to an application, say a Slack message, it will transfer into the application, but a copy of the screenshot will no longer be available on your computer. So if you’re wanting to have a copy for later, be sure to let it fully save by waiting for a few moments after taking it. Alternatively, you can click and swipe it to the right to get it to disappear, but it will still save!
Full Screen: To take a screenshot of the entire screen, hit Command + Shift + 3.
Snippet: If you only want to capture a small part of your screen, you can hit Command + Shift + 4. This will bring up a smaller cursor on the screen. Click and drag it over the area you want to capture, then let go. It will capture the area you highlighted.
All Options: For all screenshot options, including recording your screen, hit Command + Shift + 5. Select which option you want from the toolbar that appears. If you choose to record the screen, the toolbar will go away when the screen starts recording. To stop it, hit Command + Shift + 5 again, and click the stop button in the toolbar.
Windows gives you several options for taking screenshots as well, so I’ll highlight the most common ones below. A few notes about the Print Screen button: depending on your keyboard, it is often shortened and may appear as PrtScn or PrntScrn.
Save Full Screen to a File: So similar to Mac, hitting Windows Key + Print Screen will take a shot of the entire screen, and save it to a folder called 'Screenshots' within your 'Pictures' folder.
Copy Full Screen: You also have the option of taking a shot of the full screen and copying it to the clipboard. For this, you just hit Print Screen. To use the screenshot, you will have to paste it somewhere. This is helpful for making documentation, where you just want to paste it into a file and don’t need to have the image saved in a separate file.
Snippet: To take a shot of a specific portion of the screen, hit Windows + Shift + S. Click and drag the cursor over the area you want to capture. This snippet doesn’t save as a file but gets copied to the clipboard. You have to make sure to paste the shot somewhere and save it if you wish to retain a copy of it.
Phew! That’s a lot of information. There are so many wonderful shortcuts out there to make your life easier, and it really will save you a ton of time during your workday. These ones are definitely more of the basics, but we all have to start somewhere. I’ll be sure to do another post with some more advanced keyboard shortcuts in the future!