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90 Percent of US Doesn’t Know CTRL+F

   August 23rd, 2011

I [heart] Ctrl+FI was surprised when I read a recent article reporting that 90% of people don't know how to use CTRL+F.

I don't expect most patrons I work with to know keyboard and mouse shortcuts, but it's obviously more widespread than that. I use shortcuts a lot, and will sometimes get stopped during a meeting or presentation and asked what the heck I just did. Which might be the best way to teach shortcuts - in context and with a demonstration*.

But of course, my first impulse when reading the article was to make a list of common and helpful shortcuts to hand out to patrons - so I added that to my to-do list. There already are lists of available shortcuts, even a list of lists, but I like BoingBoing's approach - make a short-list limited to ten (or three) that can improve everyone's computer experience.

So here's what I've come up with so far (which are Windows-centric) - do you have any more to add to the list?

Shortcut Description
CTRL+C Copy highlighted text
CTRL+X Cut highlighted text
CTRL+V Paste highlighted text
CTRL+Z Undo last action
CTRL+Y Redo last undo
CTRL+P Open print window
CTRL+F Find on page
CTRL+H Find and replace
Right-click With mouse; provides useful menu on just about anything

A little more advanced shortcuts...

Shortcut Description
CTRL+TAB Go to next tab (in Firefox and other tab-based applications)
CTRL+SHIFT+TAB Go to previous tab (in Firefox and other tab-based applications)
ALT+TAB Tab through open applications
ALT+SHIFT+TAB Tab through open applications backwards, but it's awkward (for me) to press these keys
WindowsKey+E Open Windows Explorer File Manager (I wouldn't add this one to the list for patrons, but I didn't know about it so just wanted to share it here)

Again, these are primarily for Windows, since that's what we use in the library. I'll work on making up a handout for patrons and post it here in case anyone else would like to use it too.

It'll be handy for the library, but since most new devices don't use physical keyboards, we'll also have to learn a whole new crop of shortcuts and methods. For instance, a patron wanted to copy/paste something on her iPad, and we had to look it up on YouTube to figure it out.

via Slashdot


*When helping patrons, I always point out the shortcut codes on the right of menus - almost everyone misses those. I tell them not to try to memorize all of them, but if they find they're going back to the same menu item often, see if using the shortcut is easier. Of course, Office 2007's ribbons don't display the shortcut codes, so that has changed things.

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21 Responses to “90 Percent of US Doesn’t Know CTRL+F”

  1. Amelia Says:

    A few I tend to use frequently and like to show patrons are SHIFT+TAB when filling out a form and you need to move back. I also like to show them CTRL+ and CTRL- to zoom the webpage in and out.

  2. Louise Says:

    Handing out or posting shortcut lists is a great idea. That said, I haven’t had a lot of success teaching the older members of my family how to use keyboard shortcuts– they just want to keep clicking on things the way they always have been.

  3. Chris Skaryd Says:

    Start-R give you the Run box.
    Start-D and Start-M Minimize all open windows.
    Start-L locks the sessions and requires the password to log back in.
    Start Pause/Break give you the System Properties.
    Ctrl-Insert is another way to Copy.
    Ctrl-Delete is another to Cut.
    Shift-Insert is another way to Paste.
    Alt-Space brings up the window right click menu.
    Start-Tab in Vista and Win 7 gives you a cooler way to scroll through your open programs.
    Ctrl-Shift-Esc gives you the Task Manger without having to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and click the button.
    Alt-PrintScreen copies only the currently active window rather than the whole screen.

    Anything one can do to avoid touching the mouse is a step in the right direction. People would be 100x more efficient than having to keep moving your hand back and forth.

  4. Chris Skaryd Says:

    Oh, and in Firefox and Chrome: Ctrl-1 goes to the first open tab, Ctrl-2 the second, Ctrl-3 the 3rd, etc…

  5. Ayse Says:

    In case it is helpful, a lot (but not all) of the common Windows shortcuts work for macs as well, with the “command/apple” key replacing “control”.

  6. Thomas Says:

    I probably started using a lot more keyboard shortcuts after I developed “trigger thumb” from intensive mousing related to work. Thanks for ‘WindowsKey+E’, I think I will probably use that quit a bit.
    Ctrl+page up takes you to the browser tab on the left, Ctrl+page down the tab on the right.
    Ctrl+Home to the top of the window, beginning of the doc., Ctrl+End to the end.
    Ctrl+left arrow/right arrow moves your cursor one word at time, Ctrl+Shift+left arrow/right arrow highlights text one word at a time, if you hold down the key it continues.

  7. JG Says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned my personal favorite (and one of the first ones I usually teach patrons). Ctrl+S to save! 🙂

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Amelia: good one – some patrons don’t even know that Tab will get them to the next form field. And holy smokes I can’t believe I left out Ctrl+ and Ctrl- – those are great.

    @Chris: I’m with you – either all-mouse or all-keyboard, because it’s the switching back and forth that slows and irritates me. I can’t believe I forgot Ctrl+Delete et. al., and good one on Alt+PrintScreen

    @Ayse: that’s always worked in my experience too, but my Mac experience is so limited I always want to test and retest things before I tell anyone about them. The list on Wikipedia include Mac commands though, so I’ll look through those more closely.

    @Thomas: I forgot about most of those – I definitely use Ctrl+End and arrows to move around documents – thanks.

    @JG: That one is right up there with Ctrl+P for me – thanks for reminding me.

    Oh, and Ctrl+A is a good one, too.

  9. Jay Rancourt Says:

    Don’t forget the almighty Ctrl-S
    for Save

  10. Julian Gautier Says:

    Alt+F4 for closing a program.
    ESC for stopping a loading page.

    Sometimes shortcuts also make computer instruction easier. The “Start + Pause/Break” in Chris’s comment is a great example. For a computer class, I made instructions for getting system information, then expanded them when I realized the steps were different for different operating systems. Then I bumped into “Start + Pause/Break,” and one line “Hold Start and press Pause/Break,” replaced all my other effort.

  11. Inbal Says:

    Windows + D will minimize all you windows

  12. Chris Skaryd Says:

    More browser shortcuts (for non-IE decent browsers):

    Ctrl-T – New Tab
    Ctrl-W – Close Tab
    Ctrl-Shift-T – Reopen closed tabs. (Can be done more than once)
    Ctrl-Shift-N or Ctrl-Shift-P will get you into Privacy mode depending on the browser
    Ctrl-Shift-Del in most will get you a window to delete cookies, temporary files, etc.
    Ctrl-D – bookmark the current page
    Ctrl-H – show history

  13. Megan W. Says:

    Ctrl+A – Select all Is a good one for the list. It is handy for copy and pasting, especially for patrons that are not great with a mouse yet. Useful for when you want to copy a large amount of text but have trouble getting it all highlighted when the page needs to scroll. But I agree that keeping the list short and basic is a good idea. So go minimal vs. comprehensive.

  14. Cam Says:

    Recently had someone ask how to refresh a page (the new appearance of explorer was throwing him off) and taught him F5.

    The ones I use constantly and windows-left arrow and windows-right arrow to create split screens. Have taught that one to some coworkers. This, though, only works on newer windows versions, 7 definitely. Not sure about Vista. Does not work in XP.

  15. Swiss Army Librarian » Reference Question of the Week – 8/21/11 :: Brian Herzog Says:

    […] I was reading The Atlantic article about people not knowing about Ctrl+F, the last paragraph mentioned Google’s AGoogleADay.com campaign. I had never heard of this, […]

  16. Patty Says:

    Ctrl F is great, but the greatest is Ctrl Z in word processing. As soon as you/they realize they’ve messed up their document, Ctrl Z to the rescue.

  17. Oleg K. Says:

    Neat list.

    I use pretty much all of those but hadn’t heard of ctrl+tab/ctrl+shift+tab for Firefox. I’ve been opening several FF windows in order to alt+tab it for toggling ease, but now I don’t have to! Thanks!

  18. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Oleg: You are welcome – it’s a little tricky, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it quickly. Something else you can do with tabs is drag and drop them to rearrange them – I do this all the time, too.

  19. Swiss Army Librarian » Handout of Basic Keyboard Shortcuts :: Brian Herzog Says:

    […] of Basic Keyboard Shortcuts    September 6th, 2011 Thanks everyone who contributed their favorite keyboard shortcuts. I picked what I thought were the most helpful for someone fairly new to computers, and put […]

  20. Swiss Army Librarian » Reference Question of the Week – 9/18/11 :: Brian Herzog Says:

    […] headphones either. To double-check, I visited the Sony's product webpage for this television. I did Ctrl+F to search for headphone on the page, but there was no mention – and disappointing product images, […]

  21. Jon Says:

    Ctrl + Mouse Scroll up/down – Zoom in/out of most browsers, graphics work, and MS Office, and even the desktop. Same function as Ctrl +up/down but I often have one hand on the keyboard and one on the mouse. I don’t think this was an option on XP.

    Alt + Cursor left/right moves you Back and Forward in browsers and Windows Explorer.

    Alt + Space + M – Minimize the current window… works great from the “home typing position” to quickly hide from the boss what you REALLY do on company time.