9 browser shortcuts everyone should know

Ditch the mouse. Save time searching, switching tabs, and moving around in your browser with these essential keyboard shortcuts

Learning keyboard shortcuts is one of the best ways to boost your productivity and save time. You probably already know the basic computer shortcuts, such as CTRL+C to copy or CTRL+V to paste (my favorite is CTRL+Z: Undo!), but there are a handful of shortcuts for your browser too. Here are the keyboard shortcuts you should know to make searching and working online as efficient as possible. Most of them work on all the major browsers, except where noted below.

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Find a word or phrase in the current page: CTRL+F. This is one of the most useful shortcuts ever, and it works in every browser and most applications too (e.g., you can search a Word document or PDF). Just hit CTRL and F together to bring up a search text box to find all instances of a word or phrase in the page.

Quickly move focus to the address bar or search input box: CTRL+L or CTRL+K. It’s annoying to have to move your mouse back up to the search box or address bar every time you want to go to another site or look something else up.

Chrome/Firefox/IE/Safari (Windows & Mac): Hit CTRL+L to quickly highlight whatever’s in the address bar so you can start typing to replace it; in Chrome and Safari this means you can also perform a new search right away.

To move to the search box in Firefox (Windows & Mac), hit CTRL+K. (On Windows, this also replaces whatever is in the address bar in Chrome with a “?” prompt so you can search for a new term, but I prefer the CTRL+L shortcut because it lets you either type in a new address or perform a search.)

Open a new tab: CTRL+T. Quickly add a new tab without having to mouse over to that “+” or new tab button.

Close a tab: CTRL+W. When you no longer need the tab you currently have open, you can close it without shutting down your browser (assuming you have at least one other tab open).

Reopen an accidentally closed tab: CTRL+Shift+T. Oops, you didn’t mean to close that tab. Undo it by adding the Shift key to the open a new tab combination.

Open a link in a new tab: CTRL+Shift+Left Click. This is the combination for when you want to follow a link but keep your current page open. It brings focus to the new tab (if you’d rather open the tab in the background, just don’t use the Shift key: hold down CTRL and left-click on the link).

Go to a specific tab: CTRL+[number of tab]. Counting your tabs from left to right, starting at 1, you can jump to a tab in that numbered position with CTRL+[number]. So, for example, if your webmail tab is the fourth one from the left, hit CTRL+4 to switch to it.

Go back or forward in history: Backspace or Shift+Backspace. You don’t have to click the back or forward buttons in your browser to revisit pages you’ve previously been on. Press the Backspace button to go back or Shift+Backspace to go forward. (Notice a pattern? Adding Shift to a keyboard shortcut tends to do the reverse action.)

Scroll down or up a page: Space or Shift+Space. Finally, this is my favorite browser shortcut, useful for quickly reading web pages or PDF docs. Hit the Space key to scroll down one page at a time. You can guess what Shift+Space will do.

These aren’t the only keyboard shortcuts for working in your browser, but they cover the majority of tasks for navigating without using your mouse. If you have a favorite or others you’d like to share, please add them in the comments.

Photo by Book Glutton

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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