Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer EdTech Challenge #5: Keyboard shortcuts

Welcome to the Summer EdTech Challenge! Summertime is a wonderful time to be a teacher! It's the perfect time to recharge your batteries, catch up on trends in education, read for pleasure, and learn new things. How about taking the opportunity to learn new tech skills or try out new tools and strategies?

Each Monday this summer I'll post a simple tech challenge, something you can do between dips in the pool and binge watching your favorite TV show. These challenges are practical, easy to implement ideas to help you develop your tech skills and start next year off on the right technology foot!

 Getting your edtech skills on isn't always about discovering new things. Sometimes its just about getting better or more efficient at what you already do. That's what this challenge is all about. We spend a lot of time in front of computers. Wouldn't it be helpful if we could use them more efficiently?

Shortcut keys help provide an easier and usually quicker method of navigating and executing commands in different programs. Shortcut keys are usually accessed by the Ctrl key in Windows and the Command key on Macs. Sometimes an additional key is used such as Shift or Alt.

If you know of a command you commonly use in a program, but are unsure of the shortcut, look at the menus. Usually the shortcuts will be shown next to the command. For example, notice the shortcut keys for Save in the screenshots below.

General Shortcuts

Here is a list of shortcuts commonly used for moving around your computer and dealing with files or programs.
Ctrl+X⌘ Command+XCut: Remove the selected item and copy it to the Clipboard.
Ctrl+C⌘ Command+CCopy the selected item to the Clipboard.
Ctrl+V⌘ Command+VPaste the contents of the Clipboard into the current document or app.
Ctrl+Z⌘ Command+ZUndo the previous command.
Ctrl+YShift+⌘ Command+ZRedo the previous command.
Ctrl+A⌘ Command+ASelect All items.
Ctrl+N⌘ Command+NNew: Open an new document or window.
Ctrl+Shift+NShift+⌘ Command+NNew folder.
Ctrl+O⌘ Command+OOpen the selected item, or open a dialog to select a file to open.
Ctrl+W⌘ Command+WClose the front window or current tab.
Alt+Tab⌘ Command+TabSwitch between open apps.
Ctrl+T⌘ Command+TOpen a new tab and jump to it
Ctrl+L⌘ Command+LJump to the Address Bar in a web browser.

Document Shortcuts

The shortcuts listed here are used within most applications, whether it's Microsoft Word, Google Docs, iMovie, or any other type of program.
Ctrl+B⌘ Command-BBoldface the selected text, or turn boldfacing on or off.
Ctrl+I⌘ Command-IItalicize the selected text, or turn italics on or off.
Ctrl+U⌘ Command-UUnderline the selected text, or turn underlining on or off.
Ctrl+P⌘ Command+PPrint the current document.
Ctrl+S⌘ Command+SSave the current document.
Ctrl+F⌘ Command+FFind.

There are many other keyboard shortcuts beyond these. There are shortcuts for logging out users on a computer, shutting down or restarting the computer, moving the cursor to different points in a document, cycling through open tabs in a web browser, and many, many more. You can check out more of them at these sites:

Wikipedia (includes a very comprehensive list, grouped logically)
Mac keyboard shortcuts
Shortcutworld (includes shortcuts for Google Docs)

iPad Shortcuts

Why should computers get all the shortcut love? iPads (and iPhones) also have shortcuts that help you accomplish tasks faster. In the touch tablet world these are called gestures. Here is a short list of commonly used iPad gestures.

# of fingersGestureAction
oneslide up or downScroll through page content.
oneflick up or downQuickly scroll through page content. Tap to stop.
twopinch togetherZoom out.
twospread apart (unpinch)Zoom in.
four or fivepinch togetherClose app and go to the home screen.
four or fiveswipe left or rightSwitch between open apps.
fiveswipe upShow multitasking view to switch between apps.

For this week's challenge, find some shortcuts you haven't used before. As you use your computer this week, try them out. It might take a few tries to remember the key strokes, but the more you use them, the more ingrained in your memory they will be. I was not aware of the Command+L shortcut to quickly get to the address bar. I'll be practicing that one a lot this week, since I'll be doing a lot of work on the web!

After trying them for awhile, come back and share in the comments what your experience was like. What shortcuts did you find most valuable? Were you able to find others that weren't on this list?


  1. I came across this cool iPad shortcut in my Twitter feed this week. This is definitely one I'll be using more and more!

  2. Good stuff, Mark. Here's a link to a poster I created with some of those shortcuts. Feel free to share/use/delete- whatevs :)

    1. Thanks for that cool resource! I tweeted it out!