Use shortcut keys

Don’t do everything with the mouse.

Do use shortcut keys when appropriate.

The whole point of shortcut keys is to do things more quickly. My experience has been that many shortcut keys are the opposite of shortcuts. Take for example Windows Media Player. I’ve been using Media Player Classic for years now and I love it. One of the best features (other than the fact that it can play any media format known to man given the proper codecs) is the keyboard commands actually make sense. To pause and play video: space bar. Guess what the shortcut is in Windows Media Player: ctrl+p. First of all ctrl and p are on opposite sides of the keyboard. This means you either have to have very large hands or use two of them. I find it considerably easier to just move the mouse to the big play/pause button and click it.

Winamp has an original keyboard shortcut layout: starting from Z and ending with B the functions are rewind, play, pause, stop, forward respectively. So instead of being mnemonics they are a visual representation of the control bar on the player. Once you have realized this it makes controlling the program extremely easy.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks:

Firefox has a ton of shortcut keys. Some make sense, others do not. For example: Some n00b posted on his blog about some of the cool things you can do in Firefox. He provided a list of keyboard commands and included some that I have never heard of. alt+n to “find next” was a new one for me considering I’ve always used ctrl+g for the same purpose. Think about it this way: ctrl+f to bring up the find bar, ctrl+g to move to the next match. Now try ctrl+f and switch to alt+n. Not very comfy is it? By the way, I never use ctrl+f for the find bar because you can just use /.
How about ctrl+l to go to the address bar? Makes sense if you call it the location bar. But it requires two hands. Try alt+d. It does the same thing and it works in IE and Windows Explorer as well.

Now then, I could write a whole series of books on Windows shortcut keys (and other tips and tricks) but I’ll discuss some of my favorites. ctrl+c, ctrl+x, ctrl+v, ctrl+z go without saying. All those other commonly known combos should be in every computer user’s shortcut list but try ctrl+shift+esc. That’s a handy way to get to the task manager. Very handy if explorer has crashed and you have no mouse cursor. alt+f4 is another handy one in a jam but not very practical when the close button is so easily clickable. Try alt+f4 on the desktop. This can come in to play when using a Remote Desktop connection and you want to restart or shutdown the host computer. WindowsKey+L locks the machine. WindowsKey+D minimizes all windows and shows the desktop. WindowsKey+R launches the run dialog. This is a favorite of mine because it can be used with so many other tasks. I need to do a quick math problem: instead of poking through the start menu to find Calculator I do WindowsKey+D type calc and hit enter. I use the same method for regedit, opening any drive in explorer, and anything else I’ve added to my environment variable path.