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102 Key Principles for Success

Principle 37 - Shortcut Keys

Learning to use shortcuts is a key principle for success.

The first person to make me aware of this was a co-worker Kenny. I was using my computer and he saw me doing something inefficiently (not using shortcut keys) and showed me the various Ctrl+Arrow keys that can be used.

For computers there are a number of combination keys that will make your job faster than using a mouse. If you don't know these keys you should definitely learn them.

The key to know is the Enter key. Almost all screens can use this instead of taking your hands from the keyboard, moving the mouse and pressing a button.

The Esc or Escape key, which is in the upper left-hand key on most keyboards. is used to cancel something, usually a dialog.

There are the basic keys that are used in combination with other keys like a Shift key, that's used to CAPITALIZE letters.

The other keys to be familiar with are the Alt, Ctrl, Fn and Window key.

The way to learn them is to search if there is a shortcut to do whatever you're trying to do. It takes some time to find this and to remember to use them.

Today, if I'm looking at someone's screen and they're not using shortcuts I find it annoying and wasteful of my time.

New users should not be taught with shortcut keys as it's a lot to remember. After they pass through the beginner phase it's okay to teach them. Not everyone wants to use shortcut keys.

I even ask on job interviews what the shortcut key for X. This shows me if the person is concerned with being efficient.

So here are the important ones:
  • Cut, Copy, Paste - Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V
  • Undo - Ctrl+Z
  • Select All - Ctrl+A
  • Enter - do default action
  • Esc - Cancel
  • Alt - Shows menu or other shortcuts
  • Ctrl+Arrows - Try them and see what they do
  • Windows+Right or Left - Moves window to half the screen
  • Windows+L - Locks computer
  • Windows+D - Shows Desktop

Using shortcut keys can be a curse of knowledge. When you see others that don't use them, you wonder how could they be so dumb? You can also show someone the faster way but they will reject it and go with what their current habit is.

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