In a world where everything is just a click away, we often forget how inconvenient clicking is. If there isn’t a button or an obvious link to click, what do you do? We are so used to being led round the internet by the hand we sometimes forget to take the initiative.
Two of the most powerful, yet underused keys on your computer keyboard are the control key and the alt key. We all know how deadly they can be as part of the famous three fingered salute:
control alt delete
But what about when they are used with other keys? Control and Alt are both browser independent, which means they will work in Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and all other browsers.
Incidentally, this is Windows speak, the equivalent keys on a Mac are the Command key and Option key.
Control and C for copy and Control and V for paste are fairly common short cuts, as is Alt Tab to switch between windows.
But how do you know when to use Control and when to use Alt?
The rule of thumb is simple and fairly easy to remember:
Control gives you control, so lets you do stuff. For example: Control and F together is Find; Control and Z is Undo (a key combination that I use a lot!) and Control and Y is Redo. One of my favourites is Control and A for Select All.
Alt is short for Alternate, and the Alt Key takes you to an alternate place. If you wish to move your cursor or navigate around, then generally you will be using the Alt key. One of the most useful Alt keys is Alt and D together, which will take you directly to your browser’s address bar.
Here’s a longer list. There are shortcuts for all keys, but the ones below are used when browsing. We hope you find them useful. Personally, I’d rather use keyboard shortcuts than a touchpad mouse on the laptop, especially in the car!
CONTROL (or Command) and…
- Control A – select all
- Control C – copy selected
- Control D – add bookmark
- Control F – find
- Control H – open history
- Control N – open new window
- Control P – print
- Control R – refresh page
- Control S – save
- Control V – paste selected
- Control W – close window or tab
- Control X – cut selected
- Control Y – redo
- Control Z – undo
- Control Home – got to top
- Control End – go to bottom
- Control Tab – next window
- Control Shift Tab – previous window
ALT (or Option) and…
The menu bar at the top of your browser will have letters underlined (e.g. Help usually has the H underlined.) Pressing Alt and the relevant letter is equivalent to clicking on the menu item.
- Control Alt 4 – €
- Control Alt Delete – Reboot!
- Alt Tab – switch application
- Alt Space – minimise current window
The alt key can also be used to write special characters. For example the copyright symbol © can be written using:
- Alt 0 1 6 9
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