3 Keys to Make You Faster: Document navigation shortcuts

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If you find yourself using your cursor while writing or navigating a text document, this article will help you become more efficient at writing! For those of you familiar with these symbols, you can skip to the chart below.

In an earlier post, I gave 5 useful navigation shortcuts to improve navigating your operating system (OS X). It would make sense that by eliminating passive use of the cursor, not only will you be more productive, but your brain will have more energy for the actual contents of a given task. This compounds overtime to make your progress and work much more valuable. And there is nothing more ubiquitous than creating and modifying documents.

Keys to Productivity

First off, open a document. I’m serious. Trying these commands for yourself will help you to start using them.

Arrow keys↑↓→←

Left, Right, Up, Down; I figure you have plenty of experience using these keys. This is how we’ll tell our shortcuts the direction to operate.

⌘ Command

Your command-key will command your arrow to navigate the document and lines within a document.
In your document, hold down Command while pressing the right arrow key (⌘ + →). What happened? You just commanded your computer to go to the end of the line! Try it with all of the arrow keys.

⌥ Option (alt)

Your option-key will tell your arrow to navigate between sentences and words
In your document, hold down ⌥ while pressing the right arrow key (⌥ + →). What happened? Try it with all the arrow keys.

⇧ Shift

The shift-key is your selector.
In your document, go ahead and hold down shift and then press an arrow key a couple of times (⇧+→). What happens?
Selection! This is handy! You can combine the shift-key with ⌘ or ⌥ + arrow-keys to make all kinds of selections: words, sentences, lines, and the document.

Our first functional combos!

We’re going to play a short game. I will ask a question, and I want you to think of the answer. Don’t move on without at least giving some effort to think. You can and should use your document to experiment. I want to stress that it is always important to look for opportunities to solve problems, as this is the best way to learn and remember! When you’re ready to check the answer, you can hover your cursor over [].

You just typed a wrong word. What’s the fastest way to delete it?

⌥ + Delete

You just typed a silly sentence that you want to select so you can italicize (⌘+i). What is the fastest way to select it?

⌥ + ⇧ + ↑

You just wrote an awesome story that you want to copy & paste. How do you select everything but the first line?

Go to the second line, (⌘ + ↑), ↓, then,
⌘ + ⇧ + ↓

What is the fastest way to select the previous line and the last word on the line above it?

⌘ + ⇧ + ←, then,
⌥ + ⇧ + ←

How’d you do?

If you have any questions or would like clarification, I am happy to help you through the commenting below!

Document navigation shortcuts

ShortcutDescription
⌘←Beginning of line
⌘→End of line
⌘↑Beginning of document
⌘↓End of document
⌥←Beginning of word
⌥→End of word
⌥↑Beginning of sentence
⌥↓End of sentence
Add Shift to any combination to make a selection

Additionally, “fn” reverses a deletion’s orientation. So if you wanted to delete the character to the right, you can hold fn and push Delete. If you want to delete the whole word to the right, fn⌥ + Delete. What if you wanted to delete a whole line?

Do you know of other helpful shortcuts? Feed me! Put your most used in a comment below. Is there something you’d like me to write about? Comment. Happy shortcuts!

  • http://www.benprindle.com/ Ben Prindle

    If you have any questions or requests, don’t hesitate to ask. Critiques are also valued and encouraged on anything I publish!