18 Keyboard shortcuts that will make you a productivity machine

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all my time spent blogging, it’s that you can never be too quick on your keyboard. I’ve already spoken at length about how learning to type quickly is the ultimate way towards lazy productivity, but that’s really only half the battle.

You also need to know your keyboard really well. This is because it is a far more efficient use of your time to keep your hands on your keyboard, if you can, rather than constantly moving it over to your mouse, scrolling over your screen to whatever it is you wanted, and clicking. It might seem like a super short activity, but those seconds quickly add up. And if you’re spending as much time tied to a keyboard as I do, then you could actually be saving hours of your life every year by getting to know your keyboard really well.

Here are 18 essential keyboard shortcuts that have made me into a productivity mastermind. Some of these shortcuts may look slightly different if you’re using a zany keyboard, so adapt where necessary.

New tabs

Let’s start with the most basic shortcuts: new tabs. Rather than clicking on that small icon at the top of your webpage, keep your hands firmly attached to your keyboard.

To open a new tab: it’s CTRL + T on Windows, and Cmd + T on iOS. Closing them is really simple on your keyboard, too. On Windows, hit CTRL + W, and on iOS it’s Cmd + W. But what if what I want is on another tab? Surely I’ll have to use my mouse?

Surely not. To cycle tabs, go for CTRL + TAB on Windows, and Cmd + TAB on iOS.

Words be gone!

Ever made a mistake while typing fast? Same. You then erroneously hit backspace until the mistake is corrected. Well, you’re actually making another mistake there: chances are, it’s going to be quicker if you delete the whole word anyway. Better yet, why not delete an entire line of typing if you’ve made a few mistakes? If your typing speed is up to snuff, it’ll be a breeze to return your thoughts to the page – and they might be better organised the second time around.

To get rid of an entire word, try out CTRL + BACKSPACE on Windows, and Alt + BACKSPACE on iOS. For a whole line of writing, it’s ALT + BACKSPACE on Windows, and Cmd + BACKSPACE on iOS.

Yes, the use of ALT in different ways confused me too.

Searching shortcuts

Here’s an interesting one: how do you search on your device? What I used to do on my desktop was open file explorer (one click), open the appropriate folder(s) (at least two clicks, probably more), and double click on the file I was after.

Now? Use the START key! If you’re sure on the file name, this one’s a no-brainer, as it’ll result in the file being opened immediately, rather than after a thousand mouse clicks. Where it falls down is on internet searching; unless you have a few extensions installed, Windows forces you to search with Microsoft Edge, which isn’t the browser of choice for me.

On iOS, searching is even simpler. My keyboard has a built-in search key that works in the same way as file searching on Windows. However, you can set a default browser that will send your requests to the web. It also works well for definitions if you’re unsure on what a word means: type out ‘define:’ and then your word, and you’ll be shown exactly what you’re after.

Shortcuts for word processing

My final, essential, shortcuts, are in word processing. I often use bold, italics and underlined words in my lessons and my blog posts to draw attention to one thing or another. If I was constantly using my mouse to select them on desktop, or my finger to tap it on my iPad, I’d be wasting seconds of my life.

To perform these functions with your keyboard, here’s what you need to do:

On Windows, combine CTRL with B for bold, I for italics and U for underline. On iOS, it’s the same principle; use Cmd instead of CTRL, and you’ll achieve the same outcome.

Which of these shortcuts are you going to start using to boost your productivity? Do you already use shortcuts that I’ve not already mentioned here? I’d love to hear how they’ve changed your life in the comments below!

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