Every software program has keyboard shortcuts for convenience, but it’s cumbersome to memorize them all. Even the standard keyboard shortcuts for copy, cut, and paste were foreign to everyone at some point and took time to commit to memory. 

It feels overwhelming to think about memorizing keyboard shortcuts for multiple software programs, but it’s worth the effort. While memorizing keyboard shortcuts takes effort, the rewards come in the form of saving time, increasing productivity, and gaining an effortless command of the software’s tools.

You Don’t Need To Memorize Every Keyboard Shortcut

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time in programs like Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Each program has hundreds of shortcuts available, but you don’t need to learn them all.

For example, focus on learning basic shortcuts like adding a chart to your Excel spreadsheet with the F11 function key or using F4 to cycle through the four types of cell references. Important PowerPoint shortcuts to learn include duplicating slides and objects, duplicating an entire slideshow, aligning text, inserting a new slide, and moving/rotating objects in set proportions. 

Instead of waiting until you need to learn a specific shortcut, find out what shortcuts are available for the software you use and learn the shortcuts that apply to your needs. You might find your needs will grow and you’ll end up learning more shortcuts, but keep it simple at first.

You Won’t Get Stuck When Tools Disappear

How many times have you opened a program like Photoshop, only to discover the tools have been rearranged with the last update? Or maybe you clicked in the wrong place and made several windows disappear? It’s frustrating when you don’t know how to bring your windows back without restarting the program. If you’re in the middle of a project, you’ll inevitably fall behind trying to fix the situation.

When you know basic keyboard shortcuts, you won’t get stuck when basic tools disappear. For example, it’s crucial to learn basic Photoshop shortcuts like swapping the foreground and background colors (X), activating the eyedropper (Option), and combining all visible layers (Command Shift E). 

Photoshop specifically has a large number of keyboard shortcuts that also utilize the number keypad. There are shortcuts for feathering a selection (arrow keys), moving a selection in 10-pixel increments (Shift+arrow keys), aligning a layer, designating blend modes, and cropping an image.

Learning the keyboard shortcuts to activate frequently used tools will ensure you don’t fall behind on your projects due to an update or a mistakenly closed window. When you get a break, you can restart the program, but when you know your keyboard shortcuts, you can keep working.

You’ll Stay Focused On Your Project

Nothing is more disruptive than having to divert attention away from your work to click through several layers of menus to find a command you want to apply. When you have basic keyboard shortcuts memorized, you won’t have to go through all of that.

Imagine having to click through the menu in Microsoft Word to select all text, copy that text to the clipboard, open a new document, and paste it in. Using your mouse to click through those menu options will force you to take your eyes off of your document, diverting your attention until you can finish clicking. It takes 8 clicks and roughly 12 seconds to accomplish all of that.  Using keyboard shortcuts, you can accomplish the same task in just 3 seconds.

Microsoft Word has plenty of keyboard shortcuts designed to make your life easier. At the very least, you should at least know how to create a new document, copy, paste, save, undo, and redo an action. 

Depending on how you use Word, you may want to learn how to extend your text selection by one character (Shift+left or right arrow). There’s also a shortcut to extend your text selection to the beginning of a line (Shift+Home). If you need to copy and paste content quickly and frequently, these shortcuts are extremely helpful. 

If you’re a writer or editor, it’s helpful to know the keyboard shortcuts to apply character formatting. Most people know the shortcuts for bold (Ctrl+B), italics (Ctrl+I), and underline (Ctrl+U), but you can also apply underline formatting to words minus spaces (Ctrl+Shift+W) and even double underline formatting (Ctrl+Shift+D).

What Keyboard Shortcuts Do You Use Most Often?

Everyone uses software programs differently. Which keyboard shortcuts do you use most often? Have you discovered any hidden shortcuts everyone should know about?