Computer Productivity

October 20th, 2014

Computer Productivity

Being more efficient while using your computer can save you time. When someone asks for help in doing research or just about anything else in general while at their computer, I will stand behind them with utter frustration as I see them using slow techniques. While I keep my mouth shut, I always want to show them shortcuts. In this post, I wanted to share some of the shortcuts I use and ways to be more efficient.

Depending on your usage with a computer, this post can be useless. For those of you that depend on your computer during most of your workday, this may save you time, keystrokes, and possibly carpel tunnel. Keep in mind that this post is for the PC and not Mac.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can easily save you time. With a couple taps of keys, it saves you from point and click, find what you need, point and click, find it, point and click. The list below you may already know, but here are some of my most commonly used shortcuts.

  • Alt+Tab: This shortcut allows you to switch back and forth between the two most recently used programs. This is great when data is interchanged between two programs. When you want to scroll through open programs to switch to, hold down the Alt key and press the Tab key numerous times until you find the program you need to use.
  • Ctr+C: This is the copy function. Although it is basic, not everyone knows this shortcut.
  • Ctr+V: The paste function. Paste data, images and content that you previously copied.
  • Ctr+A: Select all. This selects all the text, images and content within the program you are using.
  • Ctr+Rt Arrow / Ctr+Lt Arrow: Move the cursor to the right/left by each word instead of by each character.
  • Ctr+Home / Ctr+End: Move the cursor from to the end of the line/sentance (Ctr+End) or the beginning of the line/sentence (Ctr+Home).
  • Ctr+Shift+End/Ctr+Shift+Home: Select all the text/content from the current cursor point to the end or beginning of the line/sentence.
  • Ctr+T: When using a browser, Ctr+T will open a new tab.

These are some basic keyboard shortcuts, but they can be used frequently. Although this may save a small amount of time for each use, when writing large documents, this can add up to a lot of time saved.

Web Research

When I research anything on the internet, I always use Google. No matter the search engine you use, this tip will help save a lot of time.

Let's say I'm researching new mobile phones. I enter my search query and lots of relevant pages are displayed. Instead of simply clicking on a link, I will right click on the link and open it in a new tab. Some pages you find will have more in depth articles. This means you will be deeper into the website.

When you want to go back to the search results of your search engine, you will have to press the back button to go back to each page you navigated through the website. This takes time for the browser to start requesting the page before you can click the back button again. When you get actually make it back to the search results, sometimes it may not scroll down to where you were in the search results. You will have to scroll again and find the link you just clicked on.

When you open each website in a new tab, all you have to do is close it when you are done. No need to backtrack each page you've seen to get to your results. Just click on the tab with the search engine. This also works when you are reading an in depth article. Perhaps the article spoke about something interesting, but it's something you wanted to read after you've finished the article. Just right click on the link and open in a new tab. It's there ready to go and you don't have to scroll back up to find that link again.

My wife recently post this image to my Facebook page. I told her I only have 2,856 tabs open at a time.

Google Search Queries Optimized

Using Google to find items is typically easier for me than most other people. If you don't know any of the query options, you have more pages to sort through and possibly less relevant search results.

Although Google is getting better at understanding the context of your search query, it still doesn't understand it like a human would. Google still uses keywords and keyword phrases. Including and excluding certain words can help you find what you need faster.

Let's say we wanted to find the best fishing spots in a city called Springfield. We know that there are almost 30 cities in the United States named Springfield. Google may know you general location and deliver the best local results, but it doesn't always get it right.

To start, you may search for 'Best Fishing in Springfield'. I may notice that Springfield California came up because I live in California. But this may be for a trip to Colorado. To my search query I would change it to 'Best Fishing in Springfield Colorado –CA –California”. Adding '-CA' and 'California' tells Google to exclude 'CA' and 'California' from pages. This helps narrow it down to Colorado rather than California.

If I found that the results were finding 'Best' and 'Fishing' on the same page, but not 'Best Fishing'. This may be showing me results that are not relevant. To search for an exact phrase, I add double quotes to the query. My search query may look like this now: '”Best Fishing Places” in Colorado –CA –California'.

Let's instead take a step back. There was a great articles I've already read months ago and I'm trying to find it again. It was the best fishing places in Colorado, but it was on a specific website. I would do a specific search for that article on the website. My search query may look like this: 'Best Fishing in Colorado'. Now it will only search for matches on that specific website.

If you want to find out more about optimizing your search queries on Google, you find this resource very useful.

I hope you found some of these tips useful. Please be sure to comment below and add your tips to be more efficient.

About the Author

Brandon Orth

Brandon Orth

Brandon is a web developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Javascript, and jQuery and has been developing since 2005. Brandon has been with IOGEAR since 2010. He is recently married with one kid, a Chihuahua, name Cisco (he was adopted with that name). Brandon enjoys playing golf, baseball, programming, science, technology, movies, music, and much more. Always make a side dish without onions and cilantro; he's allergic. Isn't that weird?