Upgrade Your Life: Time-saving keyboard shortcuts

Jared Spurbeck
Upgrade Your Life

Pointing and clicking with a mouse is easy, but computer pros take the fast lane: Keyboard shortcuts. In this week's Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us some easy-to-learn shortcuts that can save you a lot of time!

Show your desktop

If you use a Windows 7 PC, you probably already know you can mouse into the lower-right corner of the screen and click, to minimize all the windows you have open. But you can also do that just by holding down the Windows key, and then pressing D! This also works in Ubuntu.

For Mac users, minimizing and managing windows is actually easier to do through mouse shortcuts called Hot Corners:

Hot corners

On a Mac, you can assign "hot corners," that trigger when you move the mouse to the corners of your screen. Just open System Preferences, then click on "Desktop and Screen Saver" (or "Dashboard and Expose" if you're using Mac OS X Tiger). Under the "Screen Saver" pane, click on "Hot Corners," then you can assign an action to each corner of the screen. Becky has her Mac set up so when she mouses into the upper-left corner it shows all her open windows, while the lower-right corner minimizes all windows.

Windows PC users can try the aptly-named program Hot Corners, if they want to do this themselves. Ubuntu users will have to install the Compiz Config Settings Manager from the Software Centre, and may need to play around with the options a bit.

Instant search

On a Windows or Ubuntu PC, press the Windows key all by itself and start typing. Your computer will automatically search for apps or files that match what you type. Mac users can press Command+Space, to activate Spotlight search.

Open "My Computer"

On a Windows PC, hold down the Windows key and press E (that's "Win+E") to open My Computer in the Windows Explorer. This is a great way to jump straight to managing your files!

Web browser shortcuts

In most major web browsers, you can press Control+D to bookmark a site, or add it to your Internet Explorer favorites. Meanwhile, Control+F lets you find anything on a page. (Mac users should use Command+D and Command+F instead.)

Another neat trick that works in most browsers is to just type the name of a site, then hit Control+Enter. It will automatically fill in the "www." and the ".com" for you. Most modern browsers have an address bar that works like Spotlight instant search, though, so you can also use the up and down arrow keys after typing something, in order to select the website you want.

Take screenshots

On a Windows or Ubuntu PC, just press the "Print Screen" button -- it may be labeled "prt sc," or something like that. It's an actual key on Windows keyboards that copies an image of the open screen to your clipboard, and lets you paste it into Paintbrush or Photoshop. (Ubuntu just asks you where to save it.)

Mac users can press Command+Shift+4, and a screenshot will automatically be saved to your desktop.

Facebook shortcuts

Facebook has a whole ton of keyboard shortcuts. If you're using Google Chrome, you can press Alt+1 for your news feed, Alt+2 for your profile page, Alt+3 for your friend requests, Alt+4 to see all your messages and Alt+5 to read your notifications. Alt+? does a search, and Alt+M lets you write a new message.

If you're using Firefox, try Shift+Alt, then the number. Internet Explorer users will need to hit Enter after each shortcut, while Mac users will need to hold down Control+Option instead of Alt. (Mac users of Firefox need to press Fn+Control.)

And many more

Microsoft has a huge list of keyboard shortcuts that work with all their versions of Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. Not to be outdone, Apple has a list of keyboard shortcuts that work with Mac OS X, while a dedicated Ubuntu user created an Ubuntu shortcuts wallpaper.

Google lists shortcuts that work with Chrome, Mozilla has shortcuts that work with Firefox, and Apple lists shortcuts that work with the Mac version of Safari. Don't see your favorite app on the list? Many apps list their keyboard shortcuts next to the button you click on to do the same thing with the mouse, especially Mac apps in their menus. But if all else fails, just type the name of the app into your favorite search engine, followed by "keyboard shortcuts".