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Save Yourself a Keystroke

Keyboard shortcuts

We don’t like cutting corners, but we love shortcuts. We love anything that smooths, quickens, or otherwise simplifies things for us.

Keyboard shortcuts are one of the best examples—not because you save a bunch of time at once (only a few seconds, really), but because you save a few seconds dozens or even hundreds of times a day. It adds up to a LOT.

So we’re sharing our favorite, most useful keyboard shortcuts. Open Chrome if you haven’t already and give ’em a try!

Windows Users: Wherever you see Command (⌘) below, replace it with CTRL and you’re good to go.

Go Back/Go Forward. Let’s start off easy: to Go Back, it’s just ⌘ + Left Arrow. As you might expect, Go Forward would be ⌘ + Right Arrow.

Switching Tabs. There are a couple different ways to switch tabs using your keyboard. The “cycle method” will jump you to the tab to the right each time you hit Control (⌃) TAB; you can go left instead by adding Shift to the shortcut. The “selection method” uses numbers instead: press Command (⌘) and a number between 1 and 8 to jump to that tab in sequence (9 takes you to the rightmost tab).

Re-Open Closed Tabs. You’re closing a whole bunch of tabs and—dang it!—you just closed something you need. You could retrace your steps however far back… or you could press ⌘ Shift T and pop the tab back open. By the way: you can keep pressing it and closed tabs will keep re-opening (in order going backwards).

Open Link in New Tab Without Switching. Say you want to open a link in another tab—but you don’t want to switch straight to that new tab. Not to worry: just hold Command (⌘) first and it’ll open the link in a new tab behind your current tab. This works whether you’re clicking a hyperlink or typing something in the address bar and hitting Return.

Select Current URL. Speaking of the address bar, there’s a keyboard shortcut specifically for selecting whatever URL is currently loaded there. Just hit ⌘L and it’ll highlight it for you! (Remember that you’ll still need to copy what you’ve selected, so chase the ⌘L with a ⌘C and you’re set.)

Bonus: Pop the Hood. It’s cool to know about this feature even if you won’t need to use it. If you want to crack open a webpage and see what’s behind it, press ⌘ + ⌥ + I to open the Developer Tools sidebar (CTRL + Shift + J for Windows peeps). You can even use this tool to see what certain edits would look like in real time!

Getting SHIFT Done

It’d be really convenient if humans had three hands: two for the keyboard, one more for the mouse or trackpad. But we’re stuck with two—and while that’s true, stopping to use the mouse/trackpad is like tapping the brakes when your fingers were trying to give it some gas.

This is why we love keyboard shortcuts. Yes, our professional backgrounds have been keyboard-intensive, which has made it more necessary (and also easier) to learn these habits. But—not gonna lie—it also just feels cool to handle stuff without moving your hands, and that’s the little reward as you go.

Today’s lesson: the SHIFT key is your best friend for super shortcuts. As you’ll see, it’s not the Scary Third Key so much as a super-handy modifier attached to a lot of shortcuts you already know.

These tips also apply to Windows users! We’re leading with the Mac shortcuts because that’s what we use, but we’ve included the Windows shortcuts at the end of each tip.

Paste without Formatting. You probably already know that Copy is ⌘C and Paste is ⌘V. But there are plenty of situations where you copy something and you don’t want the styling to come with it, and that’s when you need a “fancy” Paste option. The exact options and their exact shortcuts will vary from app to app—some have Paste as Plain Text, some have Paste with Destination Formatting, and so on. But in many cases, adding Shift to the Paste command (so ⌘ Shift V) will strip out the original links and styling. (Windows Users: replace ⌘ with CTRL.)

Undo and Un-Undo. Likewise, most people know that ⌘Z is for Undo. Generally, whenever we Undo things, we’re only trying to move “backwards” through the steps—but sometimes, we want to Un-Undo things (aka Redo things). The old-school shortcut for Redo would be ⌘Y but, more and more, the shortcut of choice is ⌘ Shift Z. (Windows Users: replace ⌘ with CTRL.)

TAB Backwards and Forwards. Most people know that, with spreadsheets and online forms, hitting TAB will jump you to the next cell or form field. Far fewer people know that Shift + TAB does the same thing, but in the opposite direction. (Same on Windows.)

Advanced Cursor Movement and Text Selection. By default, the arrow keys only move the cursor one space at a time—not very efficient—but they get a lot more nimble once combined with the Command (⌘) and Option (⌥) keys. When you hold down Option (⌥), left/right arrows will jump the cursor one word at a time and up/down will jump the cursor one paragraph at a time. When you hold down Command (⌘), left/right moves the cursor to the end of the line and up/down moves the cursor to the beginning or end of the document. Combine these with Shift for quicker text selection! (Windows Users: for the former, replace Option with CTRL. For the latter, see the Home and End buttons on your keyboard.)

Soft Breaks. In typesetting, a “break” is where a line or paragraph ends. Everyone is familiar with hard breaks: when you hit Return, you force the cursor to jump to the next line. A hard break also tells the computer “this is where one formatting block ends and the next (separate) block begins.” But there are also soft breaks, which jump you to the next line without creating a new formatting block—and a surprising number of apps (that aren’t word processors) observe the distinction. For example: under Slack’s default settings, hitting Return will send the message but Shift + Return will give you another line without sending the message. (Same on Windows.)

Easy Emoji Efficiency

By now, emojis are part of our typing vocabulary, and not just a handful like we used to use. The default, OS-level text replacements haven’t kept up with the variety we’re wanting to use nowadays.

We like the way Slack does emojis and special characters, i.e. their :description format for keyboard shortcuts. But that still requires you to know Slack’s official names for specific emojis… and it only works in Slack.

After today, neither of those two things is true anymore. We’ll show you how to use custom Slack-style emoji shortcuts most anywhere in macOS. (Sorry, Windows peeps… to the best we can tell without having Windows 10 ourselves, there’s no native equivalent for what we’ll be showing here.)

Just head to System Preferences > Keyboard, then click the “Text” tab:

Macbook shortcuts

For each shortcut, just hit the + and enter your own :description, then add the emoji or special character (or a whole string) in the box to the right!

The point is that you can do these however you want, but still, a couple of pointers. First: make sure the description (on the left) is a string which couldn’t possibly happen in normal typing. Second: make the description something easy to remember, even if it’s a few more letters than other ideas.

Now… here are the emoji shortcuts we use! (Leading colons in all cases.)

😌 ahh 🥰 aww 😇 halo 😍 luv
😗 mw 😙 mwa 😚 mwah 😘 kiss
😆 lol 😂 lolz 🤣 rofl
😝 woo 🥳 woohoo 🤗 yay

😠 pissed 😤 sonofa 😡 angry 🤬 mad
😣 ohno 😢 sniff 😖 boo
😭 boohoo 😫 wahhh

😮 whoa 😲 ohwow 🤯 mindblown
😳 ohshit 🤭 gasp 😬 yikes

😶 blank 😑 sigh 😐 umm 🤨 eyebrow
🙄 eyeroll 😏 heh 🤔 hmm 🤫 shh

🤪 derp 🥴 gerp 🤤 hnggg
🤓 dork 🤠 howdy 🧐 likeasir 😎 word
🤢 prepuke 🤮 puke 🥱 yawn 😴 zzz

👌 aok 🤞 crossed 🤘 rockon
🤦 facepalm 🤷 shrug 🙏 thanks

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