Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can make you feel smart, but they can also help you get work done faster and more efficiently. Learn how to use them here.

What are keyboard shortcuts?

Launch "Keyboard Shortcuts" video!Watch the video (3:03).

Keyboard shortcuts are keys or key combinations you can press on your computer's keyboard to perform a variety of tasks. Because both of your hands can remain on the keyboard, using a shortcut to perform a task is often faster than using a mouse. Keyboard shortcuts are also universal—meaning once you learn them, you can use many of the same shortcuts in a variety of applications. For example, you can use the shortcuts that copy and paste text in a word processor application to perform the same tasks in email, Facebook, and in your blog.

Keyboard shortcuts are different for Windows and Mac OS X computers. In this lesson, we'll share some of the most common shortcuts for both versions.

Watch the video to learn the basics of performing keyboard shortcuts.

How to perform keyboard shortcuts

Stock photo of person performing keyboard shortcuts

Many keyboard shortcuts require pressing two or more keys in a specific order. For example, to perform the shortcut Ctrl+X simply press and hold the Ctrl key and then press the X key and release.

How to find keyboard shortcuts

In many applications, you'll find keyboard shortcuts next to menu items. Occasionally, in some applications like Microsoft Word you may need to hover over a button to display its keyboard shortcut.

Screenshot of FirefoxKeyboard shortcuts next to menu items
Screenshot of Microsoft WordHovering over a button to view the keyboard shortcut

Common keyboard shortcuts

Check out the infographic below to learn some of the most common keyboard shortcuts:

infographic of common keyboard shortcuts

Windows shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can help you when working with text, files, applications, and the Internet. In Windows, you'll use the Ctrl (Control) or Alt key to perform most keyboard shortcuts.

Photo of left side of PC keyboardCtrl and Alt keys on PC keyboard

Working with text

These keyboard shortcuts are useful when working with text in word processor, email, and social media applications (like Twitter). They can help you perform commonly repeated tasks like copying and pasting or bolding text.

Working with files and applications

You can use keyboard shortcuts to open, close, and switch applications. When working with a file (like a Microsoft Word document), shortcuts can be used to create new files, find words, and print.

Internet shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can also be used to navigate your web browser. Many of the Working with Text shortcuts are useful online, like the shortcuts for selecting, copying, and pasting text into your web browser's address bar. Because each browser is different, some of these shortcuts may have varying results.

Using the Alt key to navigate menus

When you press the Alt key, you will have access to all menus in the current application. This means you can perform almost any task with just your keyboard. For example, you can type Alt+F+X to quit an application. When performing these shortcuts, you will not need to hold down the Alt key.

Screenshot of Microsoft WordMenu selections after pressing Alt

Try using keyboard shortcuts to perform the following tasks:

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Navigate to a word processing application like Microsoft Word.
  3. Open the application, and type a few lines of text.
  4. Select a few of the words. Bold and italicize the selected text.
  5. Undo the italicized formatting.
  6. Find a word or phrase in the document.
  7. Save the document.
  8. Close the application.

Try using keyboard shortcuts to perform the following tasks in your web browser:

  1. Open a new web browser window.
  2. Move through to the webpage to the address bar.
  3. Type the address of a webpage of your choice. For example, type www.weather.com.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page, then scroll back to the top of the page.
  5. Add the webpage to your bookmarks.
  6. Copy the web address.
  7. Open a new web browser tab, and paste the copied link into the address bar.
  8. Close the web browser.

Mac shortcuts

Many of the keyboard shortcuts for Mac OS X are similar to Windows shortcuts. However, instead of the Ctrl and Alt keys, Mac keyboards have Control, Option, and Command keys.

Photo of left side of Mac keyboardControl, Option, and Command keys on Mac keyboard

If you are not using a Mac keyboard, you may not have the Command or Option keys. You will need to experiment with key combinations to perform some keyboard shortcuts.

Working with text

These keyboard shortcuts are useful when working with text in word processor, email, and social media applications (like Twitter). They can help you perform commonly repeated tasks like copying and pasting or bolding text.

Working with files and applications

You can use keyboard shortcuts to open, close, and switch applications in Finder and from your desktop. When working with a file (like a Microsoft Word document), shortcuts can be used to create new files, find words, and print.

Internet shortcuts

These shortcuts are designed for navigating your web browser. Many of the Working with Text shortcuts are also useful online, like the shortcuts for selecting, copying, and pasting text into your web browser’s address bar. Because each web browser is different, some of these shortcuts may vary in their effectiveness.

Open a word processor like Microsoft Word or TextEdit, and type a few lines of text. Try using keyboard shortcuts to perform the following tasks:

  1. Select a few of the words. Bold the selected text.
  2. Undo the text editing, and italicize the selected words instead.
  3. Find a word or phrase in the document.
  4. Save the document.
  5. Close the application.

If you are unable to add formatting in TextEdit, then go to the Format menu and select Make Rich Text.

Try using keyboard shortcuts to perform the following tasks in your web browser.

  1. Open a new web browser window.
  2. Move through the webpage to the address bar.
  3. Type the address of a webpage of your choice. For example, type www.pinterest.com.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page, then scroll back to the top of the page.
  5. Add the webpage to your bookmarks.
  6. Copy the web address.
  7. Open a new web browser tab, and paste the copied link into the address bar.
  8. Close the web browser.