Tuesday, June 03, 2014

8 Easy and Time Saving Computer Shortcuts

As we use computers, laptops, and tablets every day, at some point almost everyone finds themselves falling into the habit of doing things "the way we know works".  While this can be effective because it gets the job done, it may not always be the most efficient way.  Listed below are eight easy to use and time saving shortcuts that can be added to your every day usage to save you time and make your life easier.

Locking your Desktop
Whenever you leave your device unattended, it is good practice to lock your desktop because it prevents unauthorized access of private data.  Locking your desktop, instead of logging out, allows all your open programs to continue running in the background.  When you log out of your computer, all running programs are closed.  To protect your data without wasting time closing and re-opening all your programs, lock your desktop.  

To lock your desktop, hold the windows key and press the L key at the same time.

Logging into a Device When Another User is Already Logged In
If you share a computer with someone, whether at home or at work, there may be a time when one of the other people you share the computer with leave, forgetting to log out of the computer.  Whether they locked the display to protect data, or walked away and after a period of time the power settings locked the display, there is still a way to log into the device.

To log into a device locked by another user, replace the existing username with your credentials, or an administrator's credentials, in the log in window.  This will notify you that the current user will be logged off and any changes they had made to open programs may be lost.  Once the user has been logged out, you can use your own credentials to log into the device.  If you are at work and are not an administrator to the local computer, contact your IT staff as they will be able to log in using administrator credentials.  

Previous Webpage
While each web browser and website are different, you can almost always use the backspace key on your keyboard to go to the previously visited webpage.  The backspace key is a quick way to go back to the previous webpage, even if it was a completely different website.  This shortcut can be much faster than navigating your mouse to the back arrow at the top of the browser.  NOTE:  There are times when the backspace key is not supported, as with some online surveys, but when the backspace key is not supported it is usually noted.

Moving to the Next / Last Input Box without a Mouse
How many forms are we asked to fill out each day?  We are filling out forms each time we place an order online, contact customer support, log into an online account, post to social media, the list can go on and on.  Each time we are prompted with a form, depending upon how long the form is, we can spend minutes filling them out.  While not substantial alone, cumulatively these minutes add up quickly and are often why people choose to have credentials remembered for sites they visit frequently.
To save time when filling out a form, use the tab key on your keyboard to go from one input field to the next in the form.  Using the tab key when your hands are already on your keyboard typing information into a form can save time over using a mouse to move between input fields.

To move to the previous field in a form, hold the Shift key and press the Tab key at the same time.  This is handy when you have typed information in and realize you made a mistake after you have already moved to the next field.

Easily Zooming in and out of Webpages / Documents
Everyone uses different default settings for their web browsers and documents based on their viewing preferences.  However, even when the browser or program is set to the perfect size to get the most out of your desktop space, yet provide content that is easy to read, there are times when certain images or fonts can still prove difficult to read.  When this happens, quickly changing the zoom level can be a quick fix.  The default zoom level can be set at any time, but temporarily changing the level is easy.

To zoom in on any page, hold the control (ctrl) button on your keyboard and using the scroll button on your mouse, scroll the wheel up.

To zoom out on any page, hold the control (ctrl) button on your keyboard and using the scroll button on your mouse, scroll the wheel down.

Printing from Anywhere
While not common, there are times when you want to print a page but do not have access to menus to select print.  In this case, you can always use the keyboard shortcut to print.

To print from any browser, program, or document, hold the control (ctrl) key and click the letter P.  This will bring up the Print popup box so you can print and change print options if needed.

Save your Changes
One of the most important things you can do to protect your data, aside from having regular backups stored at an offsite location, is to make sure you save often when working on files.  Whether you are working on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, or other types of files, the progress you make can be hard to recreate if you have not saved and the program stops responding.  When a program or computer freezes, a power outage shuts your computer down, or a device battery dies suddenly, the open file can become corrupted.  At best, you will likely lose your most recent changes to the file.

To save your work using the keyboard shortcut, hold the control (ctrl) key and press the S button.

Taking Screenshots of only the Active Window
If you take screenshots for any reason, there are times when you have other windows open in the background that are not important to the screenshot but are open for other things you are doing at the same time.   Instead of taking the screenshot and then wasting time cropping the image, use a keyboard shortcut to capture just the active window.  

To take a screenshot and capture only the active window, click on the window you want to take a screenshot of, press and hold the Alt key, then press the print screen (Prt Sc) button.  Use the screenshot as you would any other screenshot.

However you use your computer, laptop, and tablet devices, these shortcuts can save time and increase your efficiency.  Some of these shortcuts are intuitive and you may already use, others you may have stumbled across but forgotten, and others may be new to you.  Combine these and other shortcuts to increase your efficiency as you perform specific daily tasks, adjust webpages and files so they are easier to read, and protect the changes you make to your data.

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