The computer mouse is a wonderful thing. It is probably the piece of hardware most responsible for the widespread adoption of PCs by average consumers and business users. The mouse makes it easy to navigate and manipulate all those pixels on our screen.
But sometimes a good old fashioned keyboard shortcut is just easier. If you are a touch typist, or if you perform repetitive tasks on a computer you want the fastest way to do something with the least amount of movement.
Luckily there are keyboard shortcuts for almost everything you need to do. Today we’ll take a look at three of the most essential keyboard shortcuts. Cut, Copy, and Paste. Be sure to read to the end for a bonus shortcut that will save you lots of time and annoyance as well!
The Keys We Need
All keyboard shortcuts are based on pressing two or more keys at the same time. So when we write out a keyboard shortcut we put all the keys together joined by the plus sign “+” and when we say the keyboard shortcut aloud we just say the names of the keys.
Aside from the letters and numbers on the keyboard (which I think we are all familiar with), there are a couple of keys we will use a lot for shortcuts. The table below gives you a quick overview.
|Control||Ctrl||Lower left and right corners of the typing area|
|Alt||Alt||– To the left and right of the space bar (PC)|
– Next to the Command key (Mac)
|Command||⌘||(Mac Only) To the left and right of the space bar|
|Shift||Shift||To the left and right of the last row of letters on the keyboard|
When you select text or files on a computer the most basic thing you can do is make a copy to use somewhere else. The copy command does exactly that. It makes a copy of the information and places it in a special location of your computer’s memory designated as the “clipboard”. The information will stay there until you replace it with something else that you’ve copied, or you turn off the computer.
To copy your selection to the clipboard the keyboard shortcut is:
- Ctrl+C (PC)
- ⌘+C (Mac)
Cut and Copy are very similar. The only difference (and it is an important one!) is that while Copy leaves your selection right where it was, the Cut command will remove it from its original location and move it to the clipboard. You can think of this as putting the information into a moving truck (the clipboard) so it can be delivered to its new home later. This also means that if you replace the information on the clipboard or turn off your computer you run the risk of losing the information. But fear not! Most modern computers have some safeguards in place to prevent you from accidentally losing data.
To Cut your selection and place it on the clipboard the keyboard shortcut is:
- Ctrl+X (PC)
- ⌘+X (Mac)
Once you’ve moved your selection to the clipboard (using Copy or Cut) you’ll probably want to put it in its new home. This is where the Paste command comes in.
Paste takes the contents of the clipboard and puts it somewhere else.
To Paste the contents of the clipboard somewhere the keyboard shortcut is:
- Ctrl+V (PC)
- ⌘+V (Mac)
Bonus! Paste Without Formatting
If you are copying text from a webpage or document that has its own fonts, colors, and styles applied you might want to keep the words but ditch the design choices that were made. For instance, if you wanted to use a quote from an article on a news website in a blog post that you are writing, you want the quote to be accurate (the text) but you want it to fit in visually with the rest of your blog post (the design).
Well, friends, there is a quick and painless way to do this. It will take one extra finger but I think you’ll agree it’s worth it. Instead of using the normal Paste command (Ctrl+V) use the “Paste Without Formatting” keyboard shortcut. Which is:
- Ctrl+Shift+V (PC)
- ⌘+Shift+V (Mac)
Keyboard shortcuts may seem like a very small change to make. You might be wondering if it is worth trying to retrain your brain to use them instead of sticking with the tried and true methods for getting your work done.
I’ll admit that it is a small thing. But a small thing multiplied by hundreds of occurrences can add up into something worth noticing. Practice with keyboard shortcuts and you will find that you become a bit more efficient, have a bit less chance of repetitive stress injuries, and are more accurate in your work.