Imagine this: you plan on doing a lot of work when you're out of the office, but once you start up your laptop you realize that you're using a touchpad instead of a mouse. When your muscle memory gets used to that modality, you could find yourself taking longer to complete your tasks. In this article, we’ll examine a few keyboard shortcuts for your Windows laptop that eliminate the need to use the touchpad for your most common actions.
Keyboard shortcuts are useful for every laptop owner to know, whether or not they work in an office environment. While they may be a bit difficult to remember and grasp the first time around, in the long run they will be immensely helpful in reducing time spent clicking around.
Many laptops these days have a “function” button, designated as Fn on the keyboard. When Fn is held, it unlocks function keys like F1, F2, etc. For example, if pressing F2 is doing nothing, then pressing the Fn button and F2 at the same time will remedy this trick. This lock can be toggled as well by looking for the Fn lock button which is usually the Esc (escape) button. Pressing Esc + Fn will unlock the function buttons and pressing it again will lock them.
1. Renaming Current Items
You can quickly rename the current item that you're working on by pressing F2. This shortcut is useful so you don’t have to always rely on your touchpad and left clicking. If you need to edit a name so it fits with your office's file-naming convention, or you have a large batch of items that need changing, keep this easy shortcut in mind.
2. Refreshing Open Windows
Some windows don't automatically update when new changes have been made. For example, most web pages don't refresh if a new piece of content gets uploaded. Press F5 to refresh the window and get the latest version of it. Use this shortcut if you need to view real-time data, check on a new blog post or look for comments from your customers. If you still don't see the new information, press Ctrl + F5 to redownload all website components instead of using what's locally cached.
3. Closing Active Window
Need to exit out of a window? You can do it quickly and efficiently by pressing Alt + F4 at the same time. This combination closes down the program completely, so make sure that you save your work before you initiate this command. You can use this shortcut to shutdown windows at the end of a work session, or if you run into errors that require an application reboot. This can also work outside of workplace programs like games, etc.
4. Accessing Run
Windows' Run box gives you access to many powerful user features, but accessing it via the touchpad is a cumbersome process that requires too many clicks. Eliminate this time consuming inefficiency by holding down the Windows Key + R to open the run box. You can enter command lines to quickly open up programs, access the command prompt and leverage other advanced functions.
5. Opening Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer is another part of the operating system that shouldn't require many clicks to open. You can streamline this process by holding the Windows Key + E. Now you can view all of your files and downloads without having to click through various folders to get there.
6. Showing or Hiding the Desktop
Need to take a look at your desktop or hide it away? You can do this quickly by holding down the Windows Key + D at the same time. Some examples for when to use this shortcut include hiding open windows with sensitive business information, if someone is looking over your shoulder at the workplace, checking on a desktop widget for new information, and accessing shortcuts on the desktop. In essence, this shortcut is great for minimizing programs or folders without having to risk losing any unsaved work, which could happen when using the Alt + F4 shortcut.
7. Locking Your Computer
Need to step away from your laptop for a moment and don't want to risk unauthorized people accessing sensitive work information? Have to rush out to go to a meeting but don’t want to shut down and boot up your computer again when you arrive? Lock your laptop in a snap with the Windows Key + L.
8. Copying and Pasting Text
Many administrative tasks require a lot of text manipulation, which goes slowly if you try to manually point and click. Pressing Ctrl + C together copies the text that you have highlighted. You can paste this into another area of your document by pressing Ctrl + V together. If you want to cut the text from the file and save it in your clipboard to paste then use Ctrl + X. These are great shortcuts that can cut time on having to pinpoint highlighted text with a touch pad and having to right click to make constant edits.
9. Search for Text
You need to find a specific keyword or phrase in a long document or webpage, but you don’t have time to slowly go through everything. In this scenario, hitting Control + F will help you find the keyword that you need, whether you’re on a web browser, word processor, spreadsheet app, or a developer tool. The shortcut will move your cursor to the first instance of the text string that is found; if it recurs elsewhere in the text, you can jump to the next repetition by pressing F3.
10. Highlighting Text
Highlighting text with a touchpad is notoriously difficult; with jumpy and imprecise clickpads, it can be difficult to click, hold, and select precise blocks of text on word processors and web pages. To highlight text with your keyboard, simply hold down the Shift key as you move the cursor with the arrow keys. And by holding down CTRL, each tap of the arrow key will highlight a whole word rather than just an individual character.
11. To Go Back on a Web Browser
Tracking down and hitting the previous page button on your web browser can become tedious on a trackpad after awhile. Instead, try hitting Alt + Left Arrow to go back to the previous page, and Alt + Left Arrow to go forward.
All these productivity-boosting benefits are a key part of optimizing your remote work experience.Having a good knowledge of keyboard shortcuts can help you save time and increase work efficiency. When working without a mouse, much of the time-consuming clicking and dragging involved with touch pads can be worked around with shortcuts and function keys. Be sure to stay up to date with these shortcuts in order to optimize your workflow.