How to be more keyboardy: Update

Being more keyboardy is good. The mouse is good, too. But if you can do more things with the keyboard, those things will usually happen faster and with less mucking around. Also, it is very, very cool to sit there and go “tap tap tap” and have stuff happen on the screen without the mouse. Like in that Star Trek where Scott was forced to use a Mac Classic to design Transparent Aluminum. First he tried to use the mouse as a microphone to communicate with the computer. When that didn’t work, he just went after the keyboard and tap-tap-tap had a design for Invisible Aluminum ready to go. To put whales in.

Since most of your time is spent using a web browser, and the main web browser you use is Firefox, I thought I’d pass on a few keyboardy shortcuts. Keep in mind, however, that many keyboard commands are used in common system wide for many different programs, like the first three I’ll mention … they work, in one way or another, in all programs that also use a mouse. Most of the time.

Cut, Copy Paste

I mention this first set because a remarkably large number of people don’t know these. These are all the same in Linux, Mac (but you have to use the squiggle key for the ctrl key) and most other operating systems. X, C and V are all right next to each other, so this is easy to remember:

Ctrl x, Ctrl c, Ctrl v

Delete (but copy the deleted onto the clipboard) the selected text (or whatever), copy onto the clipboard (without deleting) the selected text, or paste the selected text.

See More Real Estate
The more tool bars, shortcuts and buttons and stuff that you have at the top of your browser the better, for some people. But what with tabs, the computer system’s menu on the top, bottom, or both, etc., there is not much room left for browsing. This is especially annoying if you are using a text box to compose something (like a blog post) and can’t see the entire text box in the window.

You can switch to “full screen” browsing mode, which is not really full screen but does eliminate, temporarily, many of the toolbars and stuff, by hitting this key:

F-11

That works in Linux, not on a Mac. It does work on other operating systems, try it to see if it works on yours. Hit F11 again to go back to the cluttered look and feel.

Text Size

Most web sites are ‘designed’ by children with excellent eyesight or no sense of design. Therefore they are unreadable. If you can’t read the text, type:

Ctrl-[plus] or Ctrl-[minux]

to make the type face bigger or smaller. For a while, Firefox added this cool new “feature” that totally ruined everything. With this new feature, increasing text size also increased the size of the graphics. For most people that was not a good thing because it made the graphics squeeze out the ever-growing text and totaly ruined the web page rendition. Now, Firefox has an option that allows you to have only the text size increase and not the picture. Look for it under the menu. (There is no keyboard shortcut for that, as far as I know.)

New Tab
In case you didn’t know it already,

Ctrl-T

Gets you a new, blank tab

Got to the URL box

Ctrl-L

brings you to the URL box where you can start typing an address.

Go to the search box

Ctrl-K

Find and Find Again

Ctrl-f and Ctrl-g or F3
Shift-Ctrl-g goes backwards.

Ctrl F for Find gets you a find box and puts your cursor there. Then type something and hit enter. Ctrl-g is to find the same thing aGain. F3 also finds again.

Esc closes the find dohickey

Hit the slash “/” key to open a quickfind box. Which will quickly disappear if you don’t use it right away. F3 will work with quickfind.

Switch between applications in different windows:

Alt-Tab

Switch between tabs in the browser:

Ctrl-Tab to cycle to the right
Shift-Ctrl-Tab to cycle to the left

Close the current tab:

Ctrl-w

Ooops, reopen that tab I just closed, please

Shift Ctrl-t

Navigate through time

Alt-left and right arrows move you back and forth through the history on your current browser window.

And finally, one I’ve posted recently but it is so good it should be mentioned again:

To Stop the stupid flashing ad (if the stupid flashing ad is a moving GIF file): Hit the Escape Key!

There are many many more, but this is a start. If you know of any I’ve not mentioned please add them below.

Comments

  1. #1 Nathan Myers
    June 29, 2009

    Area Man Knows All The Shortcut Keys

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38976

    NEW BRITAIN, CT—Catalog copywriter Roger Turlock knows all the keyboard combinations that execute a computer’s common commands, the Comfort Uniforms employee said yet again Tuesday.

    As usual, The Onion got there first.

  2. #2 MadScientist
    June 29, 2009

    Transparent aluminum is the greatest threat to whales in the future. The poor whales can’t see the walls of their invisible prison and hit the walls at full speed.

    I used to think it was funny how there were so many “shortcut” keys in GUIs and despite that I can still get things done quicker in a text-only setting. Now the number of “shortcuts” is just painful and infuriating; as I type at high speed every now and then I see my computer do some really weird things (and screw up my work). I would have accidentally tapped some key which is normally insignificant and accidentally triggered a horde of “shortcuts” which I can’t undo. Give me the good old days where you had to type out everything and the only “shortcuts” consisted of combinations of keys which cannot be pressed by accident and the UNIX command line completion.

  3. #3 george.w
    June 29, 2009

    Transparent aluminum is the greatest threat to whales in the future. The poor whales can’t see the walls of their invisible prison and hit the walls at full speed.

    Dude, that is such an eyeballist comment. Everyone knows that whales navigate by their sophisticated whaledar. Invisible aluminum is only invisible to us; they can “see” it just fine.

    Whaledar works by tracking the motions of smaller creatures by their auras. Like, little copepods and stuff. They have really groovy auras. Unfortunately I have not had time to verify the scientificness of that statement, but it’s probably in the bible somewhere.

  4. #4 llewelly
    June 29, 2009

    Alt-1 : Goto 1st tab
    Alt-N such that N is a number between 1 and 8 : Goto tab N
    Alt-9 : Goto rightmost tab.

  5. #5 DuWayne
    June 29, 2009

    Stupid flashing ads? What are these stupid flashing ads you speak of? I have most ads turned on, for blogs I visit frequently and don’t find rather evile, but I don’t get those. I am not sure what I did, other than follow some directions that someone who knows the sorts of things that you do told me to – they just never appear.

    I also don’t have obnoxious music that starts blaring because someone felt the urge to “share” it with everyone who stops by – always blocked now. So are some things I might actually want, but that’s the price we pay. I actually blocked that shit, because my fucking physical geography professor had music start blaring every damned time you go to her site – and unfortunately I have to go there…She also apparently has ads – but I didn’t feel the least compulsion to unblock jack shit at an instructor’s web site.

  6. #6 llewelly
    June 29, 2009

    Give me the good old days where you had to type out everything and the only “shortcuts” consisted of combinations of keys which cannot be pressed by accident and the UNIX command line completion.

    rm is your friend.

    Just use it on every app that behaves in a way you don’t care for, and soon you’ll be back to those good old days you love so much. You could type ‘rm $(which X)’ right now, in fact.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2009

    Nathan: Finally, The Onion does a totally serious story.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2009

    MadScientist: You have it. Install Linux with no X and use emacs for text. And everything.

  9. #9 John Swindle
    June 29, 2009

    I don’t know what software Scotty was using in that movie, but I WANT it.

  10. #10 Susannah
    June 29, 2009

    Ctrl F for Find gets you a find box and puts your curser there.

    Sometimes that spelling is appropriate. Not always.

    (How do you bold words in these comments?)

  11. #11 Monado
    June 30, 2009

    Ctrl-D bookmark this page.

    For Firefox, Shift-Ctrl-D bookmarks the set of tabs for this browser window. You supply the bookmark name. This is handy if you’ve opened a group of related links as tabs.

    Shift-Ctrl-B, open the “Organize Bookmarks” box.

    Esc used to stop animations but now, for a lot of them, it simply doesn’t work. But closing the window does.

  12. #12 Lassi Hippeläinen
    June 30, 2009
  13. #13 AnonCoward23
    June 30, 2009

    emacs?!? vi(m)!

  14. #14 Rob Clack
    June 30, 2009

    Windows/D gets you back to the Windows Desktop. Windows key is the one with the Windoze logo between Control and Alt to your left.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2009

    I keep pressing that but for some reason I remain at mu Linux desktop!

    … it probably works on a Mac, though. …

  16. #16 jake
    June 30, 2009

    Where’s the any-key? … I think I’ll order a Tab.

  17. #17 Rob Clack
    June 30, 2009

    Control/Alt/Right Arrow to lay the display on its right side, Control/Alt/Left Arrow to lay it on its left side,
    Control/Alt/Up to set it back upright.

    Do that to a work colleague while he’s not watching…. >:)

  18. #18 Rob Clack
    June 30, 2009

    Control/Alt/Right Arrow to lay the display on its right side, Control/Alt/Left Arrow to lay it on its left side,
    Control/Alt/Up to set it back upright.

    Do that to a work colleague while he’s not watching…. >:)

  19. #19 Jason Thibeault
    June 30, 2009

    Rob: those depend on the video drivers installed and I believe really only work with NVidia / ATI on Windows. On Linux (specifically, Ubuntu, with Compiz enabled), Ctrl-Alt-Left and Right flip to a different virtual desktop (or side of your desktop cube).

  20. #20 Rob Clack
    June 30, 2009

    Ah yes, I remember multiple desktops from a while back when I worked in unixland.

  21. #21 PaulG
    June 30, 2009

    Does anybody make a keyboard with function keys on the left side? Addesso used to make a good one but they seem to have discontinued it. I’m using a Logitech G11 with the keys remapped, but it’s not that great a keyboard as far as key feel, etc.

  22. #22 itzac
    June 30, 2009

    You can also use F6 to jump to the address bar in Firefox and IE. Doesn’t work in Safari, but maybe Ctrl+L does.

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2009

    Does anybody make a keyboard with function keys on the left side?

    Yes, of course, and it is what I use. The company is Creative Vision and the keyboard is the Avant Stellar (there are a couple of varieties). They are not cheap. Not only can you get function keys on the left, but the keys are actual mechanical keys, and the keyboard itself weighs a lot. I love my Avant Stellar keyboard. Here is a picture of it:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/06/happy_birthday_freedos.php

    (You’ll have to scroll down)

  24. #24 Matt Springer
    June 30, 2009

    Not strictly Firefox or a shortcut key, but I find I get a huge amount of mileage out of the Home and End keys. Mastering those can save you a lot of mouse work when copying and pasting, among other times.

  25. #25 lylebot
    June 30, 2009

    I can “find” faster than you. I just turn on the “search for text when I start typing” option, and I don’t even have to hit Ctrl-F or /. I just start typing and Firefox starts highlighting. I use this to follow links—just start typing the text in the link, and hit enter when it’s highlighted.

  26. #26 JL
    June 30, 2009

    My favorite Windows shortcut key combo, if it exists, would be “minimize the current window”.

    Anyone?

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2009

    In Linux, that’s alt-F9. Maybe try that. (Alt f4 kills the process)

  28. #28 PaulG
    June 30, 2009

    The company is Creative Vision and the keyboard is the Avant Stellar

    I’m ordering two.

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2009

    I should also mention that my first one lasted for 11 years of VERY heavy use, then started to fall apart. So I got a new one. I probably could have reconditioned the old one but … it was time.

  30. #30 rpsms
    June 30, 2009

    firefox: along with ctrl+plus ctrl+minus,
    ctrl+0 {zero} will reset the text size to “normal” or default or “no change” (or whatever!)

    I like to describe ctrl+{x,c,v) as “cut, copy, velcro”

  31. #31 AK
    June 30, 2009

    (How do you bold words in these comments?)

    AFAIK you have to type the actual HTML.  If you type: 

    I want to make some text bold

    It will look like this: 

    I want to make some text bold

    You then need to be sure to use the preview button to make sure you did it right. It’s a hassle if you’re not used to HTML, but with some practice you can do simple things like bold, italics, and so on (don’t ask how I did that). I especially like subscripts and superscripts (and hate it that Blogger doesn’t allow it, but not enough to change now)

  32. #32 AK
    June 30, 2009

    OOPS! Let’s try that again!

    (How do you bold words in these comments?)

    AFAIK you have to type the actual HTML.  If you type: 

    I want to <b>make some text bold</b>

    It will look like this: 

    I want to make some text bold

    You then need to be sure to use the preview button to make sure you did it right. It’s a hassle if you’re not used to HTML, but with some practice you can do simple things like <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and so on (don’t ask how I did that). I especially like subscripts and superscripts (and hate it that Blogger doesn’t allow it, but not enough to change now)

  33. #33 SimonG
    July 1, 2009

    JL: A handy shortcut for window sizing etc is “Alt-space”. This brings up the window menu – what you’d get by clickinng on the top left button. So “Alt-Space i” will minimize.

  34. #34 SimonG
    July 1, 2009

    Oops! That’s “n” for minimize.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2009

    Rigth… In Linux, alt-[space]i shuts down the process! Then you lose all your wo

  36. #36 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2009

    No, wait, it does not kill the process. It does nothing.

  37. #37 SimonG
    July 3, 2009

    It probably depends on your particular flavour of Linux and desktop. For me,, it just moves the application to my other workspace, which makes it look like it’s gone.

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