Become a Keyboard Ninja: Essential Shortcuts

If you’re planning on taking an online education program, it’s important to have some basic computer skills under your belt. One of the most important sets of skills is knowing how to use basic shortcuts on your keyboard to perform common functions on your computer. Now, these keyboard shortcuts are specifically for Windows computers, but some will work on Apple computers if you substitute CTRL with Command or “clover” key (⌘). A small note, the + symbol in these commands indicates that you should press and hold down the first key while pressing the second (press them at the same time). Without further ado, let’s dive in.

CTRL + C = copy highlighted text

Copying text is one of the most important basic skills to know. This keyboard shortcut is one you’ll use frequently, especially if you’re working as a professional who deals with documentation such as a medical transcriptionist, medical coder, or executive assistant. This is good if you want to copy text to your computer’s clipboard and use it somewhere else in a document but don’t want to move it from its original location.

CTRL + X = cut highlighted text

This one’s also important to know if you want to move information around. You can cut the highlighted text and then paste the text somewhere else.

CTRL + A = select all in the active window

You’d use this one if you want to, for example, select all text in a word document before copying or cutting and pasting it in a new document. You can also use it on the interwebs to select all on a webpage.

CTRL + V = paste text

This shortcut pastes the most recently copied or cut text from the clipboard. You will almost always use this shortcut in conjunction with the commands above.

CTRL + Z = undo last operation

This shortcut is one of my favorites. If you do something you don’t like, you can use CTRL + Z to undo it. In fact, many programs let you undo a number of steps leading up to the one you’re currently on. I kind of wish there was a real life equivalent so if you made a mistake you could undo it.

CTRL + F = find something in text

Are you trying to find a specific word or phrase in a word document or website? Try using CTRL + F. It will pop up the find box and you can search for words, phrases, and even symbols in text. The find feature will highlight all instances of a word or phrase in the document and will allow you to navigate to each of them quickly by simply pressing Enter when you want to move to the next instance.

Windows Key = open the Start menu

This is the fastest way to open your Windows Start menu. Your Windows key is typically down on the left side of your keyboard between the CTRL and ALT keys.

ALT + Tab = switch between open programs

This command allows you to navigate between all of your open programs without using the mouse to click on them on the Windows Taskbar (that bar across the bottom of your screen that has the program icons on it). Just press and hold ALT, then press Tab as many times as you’d like to quickly switch to another program in the pop-up selector that appears.

Windows Key + L = lock your computer

This command is extremely important if you’re working with sensitive data and need to leave your computer for a moment. You don’t want anyone else reading the information, so you can lock your screen until you return. This is a good practice to get into, no matter where you work.

CTRL + T = open a new browser tab

If you want to look at something somewhere else on the Internet but don’t want to leave the current webpage you’re looking at, most modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera) support using CTRL + T to open a new tab.
There you have it: 10 of the most important keyboard shortcuts to know so that you can begin to master your computer experience. There are tons more shortcuts that you can expand out to once you learn the basics, so don’t hesitate to keep learning new ones. I’ve found a cool website,, that has some excellent tutorials on computer basics if you want to learn more about your computer. Check them out here.


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