Handy Everyday IT Tips And Shortcuts

March 23, 2021

Ever sitting at your computer and think, ‘I bet this task could be done faster’ or ‘I wish I had the solution to this annoying little issue’?

As IT experts people call us in for all sorts of IT issues. *

But sometimes when you’re in the middle of work you just need a cheeky little hack.

A handy IT nugget that you can pull out of your sleeve to quickly solve the problem.

Well, in this post we’ve done a short rundown of some tips and tricks, to help you with common issues or tasks.

There’s about as many computing tips and shortcuts as there are websites on the internet, so of course we’re not going to cover everything.

But hopefully there’s something helpful here that you didn’t know about already.

And don’t worry, we’ve provided instructions for both Windows and Mac users, where relevant.

First up, some keyboard shortcuts…

* Of course, our main concern is setting up strong foundations for an effective and sustainable IT system so if you want that, be sure to get in touch!

Keyboard Shortcuts

If there’s anything that has the sole purpose of helping you do things quicker, it’s a keyboard shortcut.

Again, there are loads of these and you may know quite a few already: Control + C (copy), Control + V (paste), Alt + Tab (change window) etc.

We’re going to cover some useful ones you might not know.

Bold

To make text bold in any word processor and many online applications, you don’t need to use your mouse.

Windows: Control + B

MacOS: Command + B

Italic

The same applies for Italics.

Windows: Control + I

MacOS: Command + I

Undo

You may have heard of this one. It’s certainly something we’ve all needed to do!

But did you know that it’s not just used for undoing errors in your writing?

Many applications make use of this shortcut, whether that’s restoring a file you didn’t mean to delete in explorer or finder or a mistake you’ve made in an online form.

Undo mistakes with…

Windows: Control + Z

Mac: Command + Z

Delete an entire word

Got a lot of deleting to do? Instead of smashing the backspace button you can get rid of a lot more, and quicker by deleting a word at a time.

Hold Control or Command whilst pressing backspace to delete a whole word.

Move the cursor around quicker

You can also move the cursor around typed sentences quicker when editing.

Windows: Hold Control and press the left or right arrow keys.

Mac: Hold Option and the arrow keys.

On Mac you can also jump to the beginning or the end of a sentence by pressing Command instead of Option.

Pause YouTube Videos

If you watch a lot of YouTube this will come in handy. For playing and pausing videos you can of course click the video itself or the play button on the video.

You may also use the space bar. But this, you might have found, is pretty unreliable.

Sometimes pressing the space bar will not only not pause the video but also make your page scroll down so you can’t even see the video. Very annoying.

Pressing K instead is a sure-fire way of making sure your video pauses every time, without the page jumping in the air. Using J or L will take the video 10 seconds forwards or backwards.

Select multiple files

Pressing Shift and the arrow keys on either platform will allow you to quickly select files from your keyboard. Alternatively, you could just use your mouse pointer, so lots of options there!

The Emoji Keyboard Shortcut

That’s right, there’s a shortcut to bring up an emoji keyboard.

Want to add a little character to your communications and quickly find the emoji to match your mood? This will have you adding them quicker than ever.

Windows: Windows key + . (period).

Mac: Control + Command + Space Bar

Clever Screenshots

You’re probably aware of Print Screen on Windows to take an instant screenshot of everything on your screen but did you know if you press Alt at the same time it will take a picture of the active window only.

MacOS has a number of extra options including the ability to take a screenshot of a specific region on your screen that you designate with your cursor.

To activate this press Command + Shift + 4 and draw over the area you want to capture.

For new Macbook users you might not be aware that Command + Shift + 6 takes a screenshot of your touch bar, should you need to do that.

General Life Made Easier Tips

Here’s some tips that are pretty miscellaneous but are all designed to make your computing life that bit easier.

Google It

It’s hard to argue with the fact that the Google search engine provides a pretty good service. Almost too good.

For most of those everyday calculations or queries, Google has the answer. Literally.

Want to know the time? Type in Time.

Want to convert a specific measurement or amount of currency? Just type it in as you would say it. 50 dollars to pounds. 50 grams to ounces. Etc.

Want a comprehensive definition of any word? Type in the word.

Maybe it’s obvious but most answers to simple questions can be found quickly on Google. Save time and give it a whirl.

Rename Files Quickly

Renaming files can be a faff if you’re right clicking and scrolling down to ‘Rename’ every time.

Instead, click on the file and press F2 on Windows or (perhaps counter-intuitively) Enter on Mac.

The shortcut to open a file on Mac is Command + O.

Work in the cloud

There’s nothing more comforting than knowing your files and data are backed up as you work. If at any moment everything falls apart, you’re not going to lose it.

Working in the cloud is the best all round strategy, both from a collaboration and a safety point of view. We’ve talked about it plenty of times before so we won’t go into too much detail here but suffice to say it does make your life easier.

Popular examples of Cloud software are Microsoft 365 (including Word, Excel and more) and Sage accounting software (other cloud-based management systems are available).

Play any video easily

Got a video file that’s in a format you’re not used to using or you’re not sure is compatible with your computer?

Download an app called VLC player. It’s a highly popular open-source video player that will play just about anything. Oh, and it’s free.

… Turn it off and on again

You’ve heard it before and you might roll your eyes at this one, but honestly, it’s pretty good advice.

Sometimes if something isn’t working on your computer the best thing you can do is simply turn off your computer and turn it on again.

Whether it’s because your computer needs to refresh and clear its memory or because the program you’re using needs updating, often turning off and starting again will solve the problem.

Sometimes it’s not clear why it works but it just does! Worth a try at any rate.

Stuff That Isn’t Free But Is Definitely Worth The Money

Obviously, all the above tips are free of charge. Some things, you have to pay for, however.

Generally speaking, when it comes to computer accessories and hardware the more you pay, the better it’s going to be.

There are always plenty of budget alternatives that do the job but when you’re using something regularly, the slightly more expensive kit tends to last a bit longer, do the job better and is more comfortable to use.

First up…

Get a second monitor

This can set you back a bit but having a second monitor, whether you’re working at home or in the office makes a big difference to productivity.

By having windows on another screen, you’re reducing cognitive load and having to perform less actions every time you want to switch to another window. You’re removing barriers to completing tasks and are therefore more likely to get more things done.

Buy good headphones, microphone and webcam

When working remotely you use these things a lot and in general it’s a good idea to have good quality versions to hand. We covered both microphones and webcams recently on the blog, so check those out for suggestions on what might be best for you.

Security

A big part of IT support comes down to cyber security and it’s something we know a lot about. There are many aspects to this that we recommend leaving to the experts.

There are also many great tools that do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. If you’re stuck on what to go for, let us know and we can point you in the right direction.

That said, there are some things you can do as an individual user to stay secure.

Get A Password Manager

Rather than using the same password for everything because you couldn’t possibly remember them otherwise, get a password manager or password vault that stores all of your passwords in the cloud and puts them in when you need them. All you need to remember is one master password to get access to them each session.

The data is totally encrypted and allows you to have secure passwords for every site you use. This way you’re not creating vulnerabilities for the organisation you work for.

There are a number of popular options including LastPass and Dashlane, each with different pricing plans covering different levels of need.

Lock Your PC

Whether at home or in the office, it’s always a good idea to lock your PC when you’re not using it, preventing anyone from accessing your computer when they shouldn’t be and creating problems.

This is super easy to do.

Windows: Windows Key + L

Mac: Control + Command + Q

Get The Best Out Of Your Computer

So, there you go. As we mentioned above, there are many more tips out there. These are just some that we think are particularly useful for day-to-day life.

In a future post we’ll look at ways of solving the problem of your computer running slowly.

Hopefully you find something in here that helps you get the best out of your computer. Let us know which tip you found most useful!

Obviously, for any big IT queries, software and hardware solutions and security assistance, you may want to call in your IT support. That’s what we do. Be sure to give us a call.

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