Tag Archives: keyboard shortcuts

YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

You probably know that you can press Escape to exit full-screen mode (after all, YouTube does smash you over the head with an alert saying exactly that every time you make a video full-screen), but I bet you didn’t know you can control video playback with other letters.

You need to have focus on the Flash applet before you can use any of these shortcuts. (Just click on the video or any of the playback buttons to change the focus.)

  • f: Go full-screen. You can return to normal with Escape, as usual.
  • k: Pause or resume video playback.
  • j and l (or left/right arrow): Seek backwards/forwards 10 seconds.
  • Home and End: Seek to the beginning/end of the video. You can use Home to replay the video if you get to the end.
  • 0–9: Seek to 0–90% through the video.
  • Up and Down arrow keys: Change the volume.
  • m: (Un)mute audio.
Sources for this article:
I was inspired to write this article by accidentally typing ‘f’ in YouTube and noticing that it did something.

Making The Most of Limited Screen Space

When you’re working on a computer with a small screen, it’s amazing how much space the toolbars can take up. But web browsers and word processors have a little-known feature called “full-screen mode” that gets rid of them. Here’s how to use it.

The shortcut that you usually need is the F11 key. Occasionally, there might be a different shortcut, so if it doesn’t work, it’s probably worth exploring the menus. It’s probably near the zoom options, likely on a View menu if there is one.

 

To get out, you either need to press Escape or F11 again. If you’re in a browser, sometimes the key won’t work because your focus is in a Flash or Java applet (like a YouTube video or a game). In this case you should just be able to click on some blank space on the page and then try the keystroke again.

 

Most programs will temporarily display the toolbar if you bounce the mouse against the top of the screen. If you forget the keystroke to exit full-screen mode or it just isn’t working, there’s often an “exit full screen” or restore button as well.

 

Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

 

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

 

Copyright 2012 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

The Escape Key: Getting Out of Stuff

“Yeah, if you press Escape enough times, you’ll escape from your problems.” (*)

Nice try. But even though it’s not really a solution to everything, you can still get out of quite a few things using your Escape key.
  • If you open a dialog box you don’t want, just press Escape to close it. For instance, if you choose File –> Open in Microsoft Word and realize you don’t want to open a file after all, you can just press Escape to close the window instead of looking around for the cancel button.
  • If you start dragging a file or text from one place to another and realize you don’t want to move it after all, or you started moving it to the wrong place, pressing Escape will release whatever you’re dragging and put it back to its original location.
  • If a website is hung up or you accidentally browsed to it and don’t want to wait for it to load, you can press Escape to stop it from loading. (You can follow up with F5 to reload it if appropriate, as discussed in this tip.)
  • If you open a menu (or right-click) and you don’t want it, Escape will close all the menus quickly.
  • If you’re in a PowerPoint presentation and want to stop it before the end, pressing Escape will end the show.
There are more uses that I didn’t mention–you can use it almost any time you want to cancel an action you’re in the middle of taking. If you’re not sure if Escape would work, feel free to try it–pressing Escape will never cause anything particularly untoward to happen (unless you just spent five hours filling out a dialog box, in which case you have other problems).

 

(*) I said this a few months back when someone was in a sticky situation in a computer game and another player had told him to press Escape to clear a message box. Nice try!

 

Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

 

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

 

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Switching Quickly Between Windows

Here’s another shortcut that everyone should learn. It’s a godsend if you’re switching repeatedly back and forth between two windows, and useful even if you aren’t.

1: Alt-Tab
Pressing Alt-Tab will allow you to switch windows to the most recently used window. If you continue to hold down Alt after releasing the Tab key, the window switcher will remain open and allow you to select any other window as well.
If that sounds confusing, try it out, and it will become clear immediately. (Mac OS X users: Use Command-Tab instead of Alt-Tab.)
The behavior of Alt-Tab is actually a lot more complex than it looks–if you’re interested in the details, see the Wikipedia article. But the main thing you should remember is that it lets you easily toggle between two windows. Next time you have to copy and paste text several times between windows, try pressing Alt-Tab instead of clicking each of the windows in turn, and keep your hands off the mouse!

 

2: Similar Shortcuts
On Windows Vista and 7, Windows-Tab (the Windows key is often labeled with a flag icon) will do roughly the same thing, but display a fancy Rolodex-style preview of the window. On earlier versions of Windows, pressing Windows-Tab will select each program on the taskbar in turn; you can press Enter to select one.
Alt-Tab is really handy in keyboard macros, which I’ll probably write an article about later on.

A Little Refreshment: Reloading the Current Page

If a website has changed, you often don’t see the changes right away. A few sites, such as Facebook, do dynamically update the website, which usually makes this tip unnecessary. However, occasionally Facebook and similar websites do fail to update, and most websites will still need manual refreshing. Here’s what to do if you suspect the website on your screen isn’t the most recent version.

1: Refreshing a Page
The Refresh button has been moved all over the screen by many major browsers lately. It’s usually either next to the Back and Forward buttons or at the end of the address bar. Here are screenshots for Chrome and Firefox.

To reload the page, just click the button. Most of the time this will load the most recent copy of the page with no problems.

2: Really Refreshing a Page
Sometimes your browser thinks it’s smarter than you, and when you push Refresh it just loads a copy from your computer’s cache. (The cache stores copies of frequently accessed Web resources on your computer so that pages can be loaded more quickly.) So even after you’ve pushed Refresh, you may not actually have the site’s most recent version.

If you’re suspicious that you still don’t have the latest version of a site, simply hold down the Ctrl key while hitting Refresh. This will disallow loading from the cache and force a full copy of the page to be downloaded from the Web. (A few browsers use Shift instead, so if it still doesn’t work it can’t hurt to try that as well.)

3: Keyboard Shortcuts
I’m a big fan of keyboard shortcuts. I use Refresh several times a day, so I get really annoyed by having to try to click the button every time I need it, especially since it’s in different places in different browsers. So the handy shortcut for Refresh is F5. (This also works in combination with Ctrl; see section 2.)

If you don’t like F5 for whatever reason, a few browsers also accept Control-R.

4: Refreshing Other Stuff
The refresh concept (and the F5 keyboard shortcut) also works for folders on your computer. If you save a new file in a folder, for example, but currently have a window open showing that folder, the folder may not display the new file. Pressing F5 will tell it to look for files again, thus showing your new file. If your desktop isn’t displaying changes, you can use this trick there too: click anywhere on the desktop, then press F5.


Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Two Shortcuts for Working with Files

Ever opened up a really, really long list of folders and hunted through the list trying to find a folder or file? Or maybe the same thing happened on your desktop–you know the name of what you’re looking for, but you can’t see it. Here’s a better way.

Tip 1: Jump to a File or Folder by Typing its Name
This trick is so simple you’ll probably be surprised you never knew about it. If you know the name of a file or folder located in the folder you’re currently browsing, but you can’t see it, simply click once on any file or folder you can see, then start typing the name of the folder. You’ll be moved to the folder as you type. (Don’t stop typing for more than a second or so, or the search will start over.)
This works in a File –> Open dialog box, in a Windows Explorer/Finder/Nautilus window, or on your desktop, in all operating systems.
Tip 2: Rename a File Quickly
Renaming a file can be a little bit annoying sometimes, especially if you have to rename quite a few files. You can right-click it and choose Rename, or you can click twice slowly on the name of the file. Either way, the process requires some clicking, and if you’re renaming a bunch of files you have to keep switching between the keyboard and the mouse.
Instead, just select the file and press F2.
Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com
If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.
Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Tips & Tricks for Filling Out Forms

Ever had to fill out a form like this one? A lot of people waste large amounts of time working with forms because they don’t know a few simple shortcuts (namely, the Tab key!) Here’s how to get it done more quickly and less painfully.

0: Screencast
I’m trying something new this week—a screencast. If you don’t know, a screencast is a video of someone’s screen as they perform some task (in this case, purchasing a cash register online), usually with a voiceover explaining what’s going on. I’d suggest you read the article first, but I think checking out the video afterwards will probably help you see what I’m talking about, and perhaps put the information into a form that will be a little bit easier to apply. And above all, if you take only one thing from this article, let it be this: Use the TAB key. It will save you hours over the course of your lifetime.

1: Terminology
Before I can cover how to move through a form quickly, you probably want to know some terminology–if you already know it, feel free to skip over this section. So here are the elements that often appear in forms (all these are in the screenshot, so you can reference it if you need to):

  • Text Box: You probably already know what this is–a (usually white) box that you can type text into. Usually you can type whatever you want into here, though some text boxes may have validation–for instance, an email address has to contain an @ and a ., and the CAPTCHA code where you have to type in the funny letters to prove that you’re human has only one correct answer.
  • Drop-Down Menu (or simply drop-down): A (usually gray) box with a little arrow on one end. When you click on it, a list pops open and you can scroll through it and select one of the choices. These are usually used when there are a lot of options, but sometimes form designers might put short lists in a drop-down.
  • Check Box: A small square box; when you click on it, a check appears or goes away. This is (usually) for on/off and yes/no questions only.
  • Radio Buttons (or option buttons): Little round buttons, typically used for short lists of options. When you click one of the radio buttons, any previously selected one gets unmarked.
  • Field: Any one location asking you to enter data (i.e., “first name”, “state”, “telephone number”, and so on).

In addition, forms can contain text, lines, and pictures, but you can’t enter any information with these.

2: Moving Around a Form
Your TAB key is your best friend when filling out a form. It will advance automatically to whatever the creator of the form has defined as the next field (hopefully this is an order that makes sense to you!). If you accidentally skip a field or need to go back and change something, you can press Shift-TAB. When you use the key to move into a text box that already has something in it, it will usually highlight any previous text so that you can just start typing over it (be careful that you don’t accidentally delete anything).

When you’re moving through a form that has a text box, then a series of check boxes, then another text box, you can save a fair bit of time (and a lot of effort) by avoiding the mouse, because you don’t have to keep switching from mouse to keyboard. If you use the TAB key and the following tips, you should have no reason to touch your mouse. (If you’re filling out a form that consists entirely of check boxes, drop-downs, and radio buttons, such as a survey, then these tips are probably a waste of time for that particular form.)

The next sections tell you how to deal with each individual element; they assume that you pressed Tab to move to and select that element.

Text Boxes
There’s not much to say about these–the biggest factor here is your typing speed. Unfortunately there are no magical efficiency-improving text box tricks.

Drop-Down Menus
There are several tricks with drop-down menus. Don’t even think about reaching for your mouse to use a drop-down menu. All you really have to do is start typing, and the menu will scroll to that choice. For instance, if you’re asked to fill in your state, you don’t have to scroll through the entire menu hunting for your state–instead, just type the first couple of letters and it should be selected for you.

If you aren’t sure what options are in the drop-down menu (and therefore can’t type the first letters of it), just press the spacebar. This will open the drop-down menu so that you can see the options. You can then start typing the option you want.

If all the choices don’t fit on the screen, you can use the arrow keys and Page Up/Page Down keys to see the rest of the list. If you select the choice you want with the arrow keys (instead of typing to move to it), just press Tab twice to close the drop-down and move to the next field. (Enter and then Tab also works, but double-tabbing is faster.)

Check Boxes
Check boxes are very simple to manipulate–to turn them on or off, just press the spacebar. If there’s more than one, just press tab and repeat.

Radio Buttons
Radio buttons are funny because they have a different state after you’ve selected something once–before you choose a button, nothing is selected, but after you make a selection it is impossible to return to having nothing selected.

Unlike other sets of elements (like multiple check boxes) radio buttons are selected as a set when tabbing, so pressing Tab while the first radio button is selected will tab to the field after all the radio buttons, rather than to the next radio button.

To select the first radio button, you can press the spacebar. To select any others, simply use the arrow keys, and buttons will begin being selected as you press the keys.

Submitting
When you finish entering your data, you can press Enter to send it. At this point, Murphy’s Law states that the site will usually return an error and require you to retype some or all of the information (often because you missed the little tiny button that states you agree to the terms and conditions that have been read by approximately five people, or because you mistyped the eye-straining verification code). If it’s only one field, clicking on it and fixing it is probably best, but otherwise you can reuse the tips above.

If you haven’t seen the screencast yet, I suggest you watch it now.


Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Six Handy Browser Shortcuts

Want to know a quick way to scroll down the page without the mouse? Or reopen a tab you closed by mistake? Here are six ways to move around your browser more efficiently.

  1. Press the spacebar to scroll down one screen. This allows you to read a page without having to keep scrolling the mouse or pressing the arrow key. About two lines from the previous page will be left on the new page so that you don’t lose your place.
  2. Open a new tab by pressing Control-T. It’s sure a lot easier than trying to hit the little plus button next to the tabs.
  3. Open a new window by pressing Control-N. You probably don’t need a new window very often, but it’s an easy shortcut to remember for when you do.
  4. In Chrome, open a new incognito window by pressing Control-Shift-N. (In Firefox, enter private browsing mode by pressing Control-Shift-P.) This doesn’t save history, cookies, or anything else, so you don’t leave any traces of where you’ve been when in private browsing mode. (Well, the web server can still collect information about your visit. But your computer stays free of any information.)
  5. Press Control-L to move your cursor to the address bar. This can save you reaching for the mouse when you’re ready to visit a new site. It’s especially handy in Chrome, where you can easily start a search from the address bar.
  6. Press Control-Shift-T to reopen a tab you just closed. This is really nice when you accidentally close a tab, or if after a few minutes you realize you weren’t really done with that reference page. It sure beats having to open your browsing history and find it again.


Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Zooming In and Out In a Zoom

Ever tried to make a picture, Word document, or web page display bigger or smaller? You probably found it was an exercise in frustration because you kept having to find the zoom options when you didn’t get the amount quite right–but that’s because you didn’t know about this tip. Here are two ways to quickly zoom in and out that work in nearly every program that supports zooming.

Method 1: Using The Mouse
Hold down the Ctrl key, then turn your mouse wheel away from you to zoom in or towards you to zoom out.

Method 2: Using The Keyboard

  • To zoom in, press Ctrl-+.
  • To zoom out, press Ctrl- – (Ctrl plus a hyphen).
  • To return to 100% zoom, press Ctrl-0.


Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.

Big, Important Keyboard Shortcuts

This article isn’t just about big, important shortcuts; it’s about Big, Important ones. Unfortunately, I can’t make that clear in the title. But anyway, if you don’t know these three shortcuts you’re probably wasting minutes of your life every day. If you already do, I have a couple more that might be new.

These shortcuts work almost everywhere–browsers, word processors, image editors, financial programs, you name it. If you’re not sure if a program supports them, try it and see–sometimes they’re not listed anywhere on the menu but they still work.
Part 1: Easy Stuff
Control-X: Deletes the currently selected text and places it on the clipboard (known more conventionally as “cutting”).
Control-C: Copies the currently selected text onto the clipboard.
Control-V: Pastes the contents of the clipboard at the current cursor point.

(Note: You can also cut, copy, and paste files in a file management program such as Windows Explorer, the Finder, or Nautilus in the same manner. In the case of files, a file you “cut” won’t be deleted until it’s been safely pasted at the destination; if you copy something else to the clipboard by mistake, the original files will be left unchanged.)

I can’t tell you how many minutes of my own life I’ve spent watching people slooowly selecting text, then moving their mouse all the way across the screen to select Edit –> Cut from a menu, when they could be done pasting the text already. If you don’t already use these shortcuts, learn them. Paste a sticky note on your monitor until you’ve got it down.

Control-Z: Undoes the last action.

Control-Z is a nice extension to X, C, and V. All four keys are right next to each other and can be easily operated with one hand while selecting things with the mouse with the other. (Unless you use a non-standard keyboard layout, like Dvorak. Then you’re out of luck on that particular front.)
Part 2: Slightly More Advanced Stuff
These aren’t really “advanced”, just lesser-known and less important. If I could only teach someone 10 keyboard shortcuts, these probably wouldn’t be among them–but they do still come in handy.

Control-A: Select all text in the current document or text box.

Sometimes you need to copy an entire document and paste it somewhere else (for example, into an email). Or you might have finished writing a long comment in a text box on a website and want to save it yourself. This shortcut saves you from spending a few seconds trying to highlight a long document or blob of text.

Control-Y: Redo an action.

If you undid your actions one too many times, the Redo command is your friend. It’s an undo for the Undo command. A few programs use the keystroke Ctrl-Shift-Z instead, but it works the same.

Confusingly, Redo also has another function in many programs (like Microsoft Word)–if you just moved or typed something and your last action wasn’t an undo, hitting Redo will repeat your last action.


Soren “scorchgeek” Bjornstad
http://www.thetechnicalgeekery.com

If you have found an error or notable omission in this tip, please leave a comment or email me: webmaster@thetechnicalgeekery.com.

Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of part or all of this article
is permitted, provided this notice is preserved.