Shortcuts and Timesavers

There is a whole range of little tricks that will save you so much time, particularly if you have slow download speeds or poor internet connection. They are all simple little things, yet you will be surprised how much of a difference they make.

Keyboard and mouse shortcuts
Multiple tab browsing
Google tricks

Keyboard and mouse shortcuts


These shortcuts are some of the most basic and useful. If you are not already using them, prepare for a whole realm of productivity to open up to you. Note that these are not functions you did not know about - they are simply much quicker ways of getting there. And they generally work in most software programs, as well as on PC and Mac. The only difference between versions is that where you would use the CTRL key on a PC, you use the CMD key (also known as the APPLE key in the past).



Figure 1: This video gives an introduction to some of the most used shortcuts, including how to highlight, copy, cut and paste or convert to bold or italics


Once you start using these, you will start noticing many more. Often, when you do something the long way - by clicking on the top menu bar and then scrolling down to an item, you will see the shortcut is listed.


FIGURE 2: The long way of highlighting all the text in the document. Notice that the shortcut is listed so that you can use it next time

Most frequently used keyboard shortcuts

  • CTRL+A: All text highlighted
  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • CTRL+Z: Undo
  • CTRL+B: Bold
  • CTRL+U: Underline
  • CTRL+I: Italic
  • CTRL+S: Save (You should always give your document a name and place to be stored immediately after creating it. Then you can simply CTRL+S very easily as you work. There is no reason EVER to lose a document again.)
  • CTRL+W: Close the document.
  • CTRL+Q: Quit the entire program.
  • CTRL+Y: Redo the action you have just done.
  • CTRL+Z: Undo the action you have just done.
  • ALT+TAB: Switch to another running program (hold down the ALT key and then press the TAB key to view the task-switching window)

Most frequently used mouse shortcuts

  • Double click: Highlight that word
  • Triple click: Highlight that paragraph
  • Right click: View a selection of available actions

Multiple tab browsing

Particularly useful when you have slow internet connections, you can have a whole range of websites loading in the background while you are reading something in the foreground. Or you can have a video on this site loading while you read another page on this site. Notice the difference between 'windows' and 'tabs' in your browser. You can have two separate windows open at the same time - this is useful when you want to look at them simultaneously so as to compare information, for example. Within one window, you can have many 'tabs' open - these stack neatly behind eachother and you view one at a time and can flip between them very easily.

Think of a tab as a handle that you can pull to bring a new page up.

FIGURE 3:  Here we have only one tab open. Next to the tab is another smaller one with a plus-sign (+) in it. You could click on that (or press ctrl + t on your keyboard) and it would make a new page available. You would then type in the URL (address) of the new page you want to load. But this would have moved you away from your original page.

To open a new page in the background while you keep looking at the first one, put your cursor on the link you want to open, and then right click. You will see the following dialogue box appear. Click on the second option: 'Open Link in New Tab' and then this will load without closing the page you are on.

Figure 4: Right click on the link you want to open, and your options appear.

While remaining on the first page, you can keep opening a whole range of pages. Their tabs will show at the top of the screen you are on, and the pages will load in the background, and you can simply click on any of them at any time to view their page.

Figure 5: Here we see 7 tabs, indicating that there are 6 pages open in the background, already loaded, in addition to the Google News page that we have been reading all along. Each of those 6 tabs is from a link on the first page (though we can create tabs by right clicking on any link on any page at any time.) Not a single second has been wasted while waiting for those pages to load. 

To see the simplicity of this process in action, see the video below.



Figure 6: An introduction to multiple tab browsing.

Google tricks

Google really is the African photographer and writer's best friend. It makes so many functions available to you for free. If you need to add up some numbers, or convert distance from miles to km, or need an exchange rate conversion, try Google. Get the local time from any city in the world. Compare things. Convert things.



FIGURE 7: This video introduces you to some of the many functions Google makes available to you for free, and tailored to your needs.

Useful Google tricks

Get the local time in any city in the world. Just type this into the Google search bar: what time is it in [write here the name of the city, eg Khartoum]

Convert currencies. Type what you are looking for, and which currency you want to convert to. Eg 250 pula in rand.

Find definitions. If you do not understand a word, you do not need to find the website for a dictionary and then look it up in that dictionary. Just ask Google: define [type in the word you do not understand]

Calculate numbers. Just type in the question, eg 273+54+987+22 and then press ENTER. On your keyboard, use * for multiply, and / for divide. Eg 99/3 means 99 divided by 3. Press ENTER and Google will give you the result immediately: 33.

Get the sunrise or weather in a different city. Type in sunrise [name of city] or weather [name of city]