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Keystroke City

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Even if you are fond of your mouse there are certain keyboard combinations that should be used to significantly improve day-to-day efficiency.

The one in particular that puzzles me, because so few people are aware of it, is to press Ctrl-Backspace to delete the word to the left. (I am a Windows person but most of the combinations I mention either work in other OS's or have equivalent combinations.) Don't press Backspace, Backspace, .., just Ctrl-Backspace. It will probably require a little practice but is definitely worth the little effort.

Even less familiar is Ctrl-Delete to delete the word to the right.

Use the Home and End keys to go to the beginning and end of the current line.

Use Ctrl-Left and Ctrl-Right to jump a word to the left and right.

Use Ctrl-W to close the active Window or Browser tab. In some apps (notably VS) you may need to use Ctrl-F4 instead.

Ctrl-Tab will usually switch to the next document (or window or tab). Many know this but don't also consider Ctrl-Shift-Tab which will move backwards through the documents (to the previous document(s)).

Similarly, many use Alt-Tab to navigate through running applications but don't use Alt-Shift-Tab to navigate backwards. Let's say you have 10 apps running and are using Alt-Tab but have gone past the application you need; now press Alt-Shift-Tab to skip back to it, rather than cycling through them all again.

In an application like Outlook you can just press the Enter key to fully open an email, then press the Escape key when you've finished reading to close it.

One of my all-time favourites is Alt-Space followed by X to maximise the current application.

There are many more that could be added but I want to emphasise in particular the use, and practice, of Ctrl-Backspace for deleting the word to the left.

2 Comments On This Entry

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maceysoftware Icon

09 January 2017 - 06:40 AM
I have to say I wasn't aware of the Ctrl-Backspace however I am particularly fond of the Ctrl+Shift+left/right to highlight words (highlights the next word each time you click the corresponding arrow) before using a single backspace/delete key stroke to delete them. Gives me a chance to read the complete block of highlighted words I am going to delete before actually doing it.

However I think I am going to attempt to do the Ctrl-Backspace when I am just deleting a single word, sounds pretty neat.

jon.kiparsky Icon

09 January 2017 - 08:15 PM
I agree, it is a really good idea to make use of the keyboard whenever possible - it really keeps you on track and on task. There are tons of shortcuts even in the most vigorously mouse-driven interface, and they're almost always worth learning.

I'll also mention that a lot of interfaces provide the basic EMACS movement keystrokes - CTRL-A and CTRL-E to move to the start or the end of a line, CTRL-P and CTRL-N to move to the previous or next line, CTRL-K to "kill" (aka "cut") to the end of a line and CTRL-Y to "yank" back what you just killed. Unfortunately, a lot of commands are not available because the ALT-based keybindings are not available and the ESC key doesn't do the right thing, so it's of limited use, but it's nice that they made the effort.
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