“Geeking Out with Gavin” is a weekly series highlighting ways to improve your productivity on the web.
In my day-to-day work and use of the computer, I find that the vast majority of my time is spent in the browser. Sure, I’ll delve into MS Office occasionally, do some playlist modification with my music program, or code with Notepad++ here and there. But all of my computer communication, social networking, general browsing, and code testing are all done in the browser.
The first thing I do when I am going to use a program often is to learn its keyboard and mouse shortcuts. Middle-clicking, for instance, (clicking the scroll wheel) on any link or bookmark will open that link in a new tab. This works in most modern browsers, including Internet Explorer. Middle-clicking on an open tab will close it. These quickly can become second nature and speed up your web use because you no longer have to take the extra time to right-click, then choose at option, or to pinpoint that rather small close tab button.
Keyboard shortcuts are even better, encompassing a variety of different functions including closing a tab, switching between tabs, re-opening a closed tab, find within a page, focus the address bar…the possibilities are endless. Ok, not quite endless. But the developers of web browsers have packed a huge group of hotkeys into their browsers – make use of them! Just like the mouse shortcuts, they will speed your work up immensely when you no longer really have to go up to the menus to do things.
This also applies to Gmail, in fact: just turn on keyboard shortcuts in the General settings, return to your inbox and hit the ‘?’ key to look at a list of the shortcuts provided. For lists of keyboard shortcuts, look here for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
Finally, one easy way to search (particularly Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia, though it’s possible to add more) is to use the search box in the top right of your browser. (Chrome users, you’re a little more limited, more below.) All of the browsers have a keyboard shortcut, though it differs, to get to that box.
Google Chrome users, your location bar (where you put in urls) acts as a google search box as well, and you access it with the same shortcut (Ctrl+L).
How do you use shortcuts?
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