Hotkeys intro: PUT. DOWN. THE. MOUSE.


Well, here we are, with our first post on! Today, we’re going to start a multi-part series on hotkeys, and why they should be a vital part of your comp game. 🙂

First off, the obvious: “what is a hotkey?” Basically, a hotkey is a key combination that you use to do something in an application. A common example is pressing the “control” key and the “C” key to copy a bunch of text to the clipboard. By using a hotkey, instead of grabbing for a mouse, we can work more fluidly, keeping our hands planted firmly on the keyboard instead of bopping back-and-forth between keyboard and mouse. While the mouse is super helpful, it can also be a royal pain to have to keep switching between the two. That’s where hotkeys come in.

So, for today’s post, we’re going to focus on some simple text-related hotkeys that can help you select text in a word processor document (Word, Notepad, OpenOffice, etc.). You may find it helpful to open up a lengthy document to test this on. While it loads up, take a look at our beautiful keyboard graphic (courtesy of Wikimedia).

A flat image of a QWERTY keyboard layout.Isn’t it a beautiful picture we stole from Wikipedia? 🙂

Anyway, let’s talk about the first one I mentioned: Control-C (or Command-C on a Mac, but my screenshots don’t show a Mac, so back off Jeeves). This one “copies” selected text to the clipboard. The key combination you want looks like this:

An image of a QWERTY keyboard layout with a red box drawn around the "Control" and "C" keys.

You can then use other hotkeys to “paste” that info somewhere else in your document. Spoiler alert: we’re going to learn about that next.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Veronica, can’t I just right click on my document with my mouse and then copy things that way?” Well, of course you can. But how flippin’ inefficient is it to have your hands on your keyboard, doing all that keyboarding, only to take them off the keyboard, go find your mouse, bring the pointer over to your window, and then right click? How many more words could you have typed in that time?


Next, let’s talk about pasting. That combination looks like this:

An image of a QWERTY keyboard layout with a red box drawn around the "Control" and "V" keys.Don’t ask me why they picked “V” for paste.

This one pastes the text/graphic/cell/GOB GIF into the document, right where your cursor is. It’s the equivalent of hunting for that “paste” button. Fun, huh? Are you starting to get it?

Next, let’s learn about “cut”. This one’s a lot like “copy”, but it removes the text from the document, instead of copying it to the clipboard. Those programmers were clever, weren’t they?

That key combination is “Control” and “X”, like this:

An image of a QWERTY keyboard layout with a red box drawn around the "Control" and "X" keys.“Ctrl-X” it out.

Try taking the text you just cut from your document, and paste it into another document. Cool, huh? And imagine doing all of that without needing to reach for the mouse every ten seconds!

These key combinations work in almost any Windows application. For Mac, simply swap out “Ctrl” for that “Command” button (which we used to call “Open Apple” back when I was learning BASIC on an Apple II during recess).

So, that’s the end of this first real article for! Be sure to tell your friends about it, if you think they could stand to learn this. BTW, you can TOTALLY use the hotkeys you JUST LEARNED to do that. Simply select the URL from the top of your browser window, hit “Control-C” to copy it, then go to and paste it into a post with Control-V! You’ll love it, unless your on mobile, then you better hope you have a Swype keyboard. 🙂

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