Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some keyboard shortcuts that might help you in common applications.

(Note that if you’re using a Mac, most of these shortcuts will be CMD, not CTRL)

Chrome (and likely Firefox too)

Shortcut Description
F5 Refresh the page you’re on.
F6 Highlight the URL, ready for you to type the name of a site, or perform a search
CTRL-D Add a bookmark
CTRL-T Create a new tab
CTRL-SHIFT-T Bring back the last tab you closed
CTRL-H Go to your history, to perform searches, or see what other tabs you have open on other devices, like your phone.
CTRL-SHIFT-B Show/Hide your Bookmark Bar

Did you know?

  • When typing into the URL bar, you can type the name of a site, like http://www.amazon.co.uk to go directly to the site, or you can use the same bar to type a search, like “amazon”, which will take you to a Google search page relevant to what you typed.
  • Also, if you type a single term, then press CTRL-ENTER, you’ll go to that term’s .com page. So typing amazon, then pressing CTRL-ENTER will take you to http://www.amazon.com.
  • You can create Folders in your bookmark bar (see CTRL-SHIFT-B, above) for extremely convenient organising of all your bookmarks. Example:

Bookmarks

  • You can “pin” tabs by right clicking on them and choosing “Pin tab”. This consumes less space, and pinned tab will always open when you start Chrome. This makes them useful for things like running GMail or Facebook for quicker access.

 

LibreOffice Writer (and Word)

I’m not going to cover CTRL-X/C/V, since I can’t imagine any person using a modern computer who doesn’t know about the cut/copy/paste shortcuts. If you didn’t know these… for shame! Similarly, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that everyone knows about CTRL-S (save) and CTRL-P (print). Nor will I cover CTRL-B (bold), CTRL-I (italic) or CTRL-U (underline), particularly that last one because a) you should almost always use styles anyway and b) underlining anything after around 1997 is quite rightly considered an abomination.

However, here are some useful keyboard shortcuts which, depending on the application you use, may or may not work. Experiment!

Shortcut Description
CTRL-Z Undo the last thing you did. Keep pressing it to leap further and further back in time.
CTRL-Y Went too far? Keep pressing this to redo the last thing you did, unless it was “undo”, in which case this will “redo your undo”, jumping you forward in time with each press.
CTRL-number Apply the matching “Header” style to the selected text.
CTRL-0 (zero) Apply “normal” or “text body” style to the selected text.
CTRL-M Revert text / clear formatting. If someone has gone gung-ho with the underline and crazy fonts, try CTRL-zero, then CTRL-M for a dose of sanity.
CTRL-SHIFT-V Paste Special (depending on source, this might also paste without formatting). Incredibly useful when pasting from PDFs and web pages, or even spreadsheets – this will paste only the words and numbers without any formatting. If it doesn’t work for whatever reason, remember that you can still highlight the text, then CTRL-M/zero it instead.
SHIFT-arrow key Select text, character by character, ready for deleting, copying or formatting.
CTRL-arrow key Jump in the direction, one word at a time.
CTRL-SHIFT-arrow key Select text, as above, but now doing so one word at a time.

Did you know?

  • Underlining isn’t the only abomination of the modern world. In 2006, Microsoft, by dint of some well timed bribery, subverted the existing Open Document Format (.odf files) by creating a new “standard” called OOXML, which you would recognise today as a .docx file. Despite their name, there is practically nothing “open” about the .docx format and with every release of Word, new ways are introduced to ensure that while Word will happily open such documents and give a fair representation of how they should look, the same can’t be said of its competing products, such as those used by Apple (whatever that might be called) and Open Office or LibreOffice. I’ll be honest, geeks like me shed a fresh tear of regret for every docx file created in this world. That’s a lot of tears. Don’t be part of the problem: use ODF files if you can, and if you absolutely must save in Microsoft’s appallingly opaque and proprietary formats, make sure to specify the older and slightly better understood .doc format.
  • The same is true, obviously enough, with xlsx files (spreadsheets) and pptx files (slides), only much, much worse. Almost any kind of vague complexity in these formats will render your spreadsheet next-to-useless unless the person you’re sending it to owns a copy of Excel. Last I checked, that was a whopping £80/year on the new subscription model, or £120 one-off if you’re lucky enough to qualify as a student (£230 if you’re not). Again, don’t be part of the problem: either use LibreOffice’s .ods format, or use Google Sheets instead. Both of those options are free (although you’ll need a Google account for the latter) and negate the hassles with cross-platform compatibility.

 

LibreOffice Sheets (and Excel)

Many of the same shortcuts as above, so I’ll just do the unique shortcuts here.

Shortcut Description
F2 Edit the cell you’re in.
Home Leap to column A, without changing row
CTRL-Home Leap to cell A1
CTRL-Arrow Key Leap to the last non-empty cell in the direction you pressed. If there are no more non-empty cells in that direction, this will leap to the outer limits of the direction you pressed (so that would be Column AMJ if you pressed right, or Row 1048576 if you pressed down).
CTRL-A Select all the text in the current block around the current cell. If this is in the format of a database, this will try to select the entire database. Note that Excel does a better job here – LibreOffice will almost always just select the entire sheet on the first press.
CTRL-A (again) Pressing CTRL-A a second time will select every cell in the spreadsheet.

Scaine has written 15 articles

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