PUBLISHED: 4:52 PM on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Keystroke commands often faster than switching to mouse clicking

  Courtesy photo
I recently wrote a column about clearing search histories. Well, the good people at Mozilla Corp., the makers of the Firefox Web browser, informed me of an even easier way to do it. I pointed out to faithful (and sometimes paranoid) readers that you could clear the cache via the "tools" menu bar and turn off the save-history option entirely. Chris Hofmann of Mozilla pointed out that for a quick cleansing of the Google search engine history, right click in the search bar. The last option in the popup menu is Clear Search History. Thanks Mozilla!

Anyone trying this may also notice the "S" is underlined in that search-history option. This indicates that you can use the command "Ctrl + S" to clear the history. The keyboard command can only be used once the menu is open; if you do it otherwise, you'll initiate the command to save your Web site.

This brings me to one of my favorite topics: keystroke shortcuts! Even writing that last sentence I used the "delete" and "end" key to change a few words around. I am a key-stroking maniac with those hot keys. It's 10 times quicker to type a command rather than lift a hand from the keyboard to the mouse. This is a very efficient way of typing. Don't let me intimidate you, though. Here are some easy commands that you can start using today. Once you get the hang of it, you may be hooked!

As we mistake-prone computer junkies know, the most important keystroke of all time is "Ctrl Z." This command will undo the very last thing you typed. If only we could "Ctrl Z" our way through life, undoing all the times we've spoken without thinking! That would have saved the PD more than a few times!

Another handy keystroke is "Ctrl N." It creates a new document in an instant. I use this command all the time. I like to save any thought or tidbit that I find online. The "Ctrl N" command in conjunction with the ole' cut-and-paste keystrokes can be very productive. To "cut" or remove a block of text, use "Ctrl X." To copy, use "Ctrl C." And to paste the text into another document (or back into the same document), use "Ctrl V." These standbys combined with the powerful "Ctrl A" (select all) can give you much more time to browse eBay at work.

A recurring problem is that users don't save their work often enough. "Ctrl S" accomplishes this in a heartbeat. The first time you save, of course, you have the task of naming the document. Notice the cursor is already in the "file name" area. Just give it a title and hit "Enter." The first save may take about five seconds, but it's five seconds that can make your day should your machine crash out of the blue.

Another nifty key combo is the "Find" function or "Ctrl F." Back in the day people used to have to research information if they were curious. Get up, go to a library. (Gasp!) Now we have too much information. Enter the sophisticated "Find." Often when I go to a Web site, or a thread on a message board, I'll use "Ctrl F" to find a specific word or phrase to speed to the topic. It's faster than reading the entire page.

Since Mozilla started me on this topic, it's only fair that I mention my favorite Firefox keystroke: "Ctrl T." This command opens another tab in the same window for browsing the Internet. It may seem awkward to think about if you haven't tried tabbed browsing. But imagine, when you have 10 different Web sites open and they're covering the screen, you could have just one window with 10 tabs. It's very neat, and if there's anything I love, it's neatness. Internet Explorer 7 contains tab browsing too, so it will soon be the standard. I promise technophobes, you're gonna love it!