As someone who spends many, many, hours every day on a computer (seriously. It’s a lot. Like, I’m not even kidding). I’m always trying for ways to do things faster, to complete a small task more quickly.
I’ve found a bunch of tips that makes doing a lot of little things faster. They might only save a couple of seconds each time, but those seconds add up awfully quickly for anyone who spends a lot of time at a computer.
Here are 25 little things to make your time at the computer faster and more efficient:
Switch apps – Alt-Tab on Windows, or Command-Tab in Mac OS, will let you flip through your current applications right from the keyboard, without any mouse clicks or hunting.
Show the Desktop – Press F11 on a Mac, or Windows-M on Windows, to see the desktop. Press the keys again, and you’ll go right back to where you were.
Sleep on Close – All laptops can be set to go to sleep or hibernate when the lid is closed, and then to resume when you open the lid again. Enable this (in Power Options of Windows, and System Preferences of Mac OS), and your done-to-leaving and sitting-to-working times reduce drastically.
Browser Refresh – To manually refresh a webpage, hit F5 in Windows, or Command-R in Mac OS.
Use the Search Bar – Don’t go to google.com every time you need to search for something – instead, hit Control-K (Windows) or Command-K (Mac OS), or Command-L-Tab (Safari on Mac) to jump right to the search bar, where you can search much faster.
Skip the “WWW” – No need to type the www at the beginning of most urls. Just type google.com, or facebook.com, and your browser figures out the rest.
Tab The Next Field – When you’re filling out a form, hitting Tab automatically moves your cursor to the next field, where you can keep typing. Shift-Tab takes you backwards one field, if you need to backtrack.
Back and Forth in Browser – In Windows, Control-Left takes you back a page, and Control-Right moves you forward. On a Mac, it’s Command-Left to go back, and Command-Right to go forward.
Jump to the Address Bar – Control-L or Command-L will take you right to the address bar, and select all the text there, so you can start typing your new web address right away.
Multi-Select with Shift – Let’s say you want to select 30 items in a row – to copy, move, delete, or whatever. Click the first, hold Shift, and click the last. Boom – all the ones in between get selected as well.
Open with the right app – Take a couple of seconds to set the auto-open dialogs (the application a given file opens with by default) to the app you want. That way, there’s no auto-opening and slowness of Photoshop every time you want to view an image.
Kill Slow Apps – If your computer’s running slowly, odds are it’s because an app is hanging or crashed, and taking over your computer. On a Mac, open the Activity Monitor to find out what’s slowing down your computer. On Windows, right-click the taskbar and select “Task Manager” to do the same thing.
Click-Highlight – If you double-click a word, in any application, it’ll be highlighted. Triple-click, and the whole paragraph gets selected.
Scroll a Page – One click of the Space bar will take you down a page, as long as you’re not currently typing something, in almost any application.
Close Windows – Alt-F4 closes the application you’re currently using – it’s much faster than using the tiny little “X” at the top of the screen, and accidentally hitting the “Maximize” button, and then having to find it again. And then clicking “Minimize” by accident. Not that I’ve ever done that.
Quick Launch – The Quick Launch bar lives at the right side of your taskbar, and can be the perfect place for keeping shortcuts to all your favorite apps. Just drag an application icon into the Quick Launch bar, and you’ll be able to open it with just one click, and minimal icon-hunting.
Full-Screen Browsing – In a browser, or in Word, if you hit F11, you’ll get a full-screen viewing experience, free of toolbars and other space-stealing nonsense.
Full Screen – Click twice on the title bar of any window, and it’ll automatically maximize it to fill the whole screen. Double-click again, and it’ll restore the window to its previous size.
Open Windows Explorer – Windows-E opens Windows Explorer, where you’ll find your documents, program files, and the like.
Lock The Computer – Windows-L will lock your computer, taking you back to the login screen. That’s a useful added layer of security, and a good thing to remember to do when you walk away from the computer.
Shortcut Keyboard Shortcut – Many of us have icons to our favorite applications on our desktop, or in a folder of favorites. If you right-click the shortcut, and select “Properties,” you can create a shortcut to that application – say, Windows-J – that will launch the app.
Mac OS Only
Flip Through Same App Windows – Command-~ (the button right below Escape) creates something like Command-Tab, but only in the current application. If you’ve got ten Firefox windows open at a time, or need to flip between Word docs, this is a life saver.
Launch apps with Spotlight – You really don’t need the Dock, or Finder, or anything else to open a file or application. Just hit Command-Space to open Spotlight, and start typing what you’re looking for. Move up and down the list with arrows, and Enter opens your app or file.
Use Quick Look – Quick Look supports most file types, and can show you the contents of a file (read a PDF, hear a song, see a Photoshop file), without ever opening the app. Just select a file, and hit Space to see it in Quick Look.
Open a File – Instead of Pressing Enter (which doesn’t work), or double-clicking a file to open it, just hit Command-O. It’ll pop right open.
Delete a File – Command-Delete automatically sends the one (or many) selected files to the Trash.
So, with these tricks (and MUCH more – nearly everything you do, there’s a way to do faster), you’ll be flying through the boring stuff.
What’s your favorite time-saving trick on your computer?