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The Keyboard Shortcuts I Couldn’t Live Without


Everyone loves a shortcut, right? Whether it’s a shorter way to get home from work, an easy way to pay bills, or just a simpler way to get a dreaded task accomplished, shortcuts are great. The same is true for using the computer. Anything that can be done quicker and with ease gives us more time to research our family history! 

A keyboard shortcut is a series of one or more keys that “invokes a command that would otherwise be accessible only through a menu, a mouse, or an aspect of the user interface.”[1] Keyboard shortcuts are available for software programs as well as your Internet browser. You could find dozens or more shortcuts that exist for all the programs you use. I don’t use every keyboard shortcut available but there are a few that I consistently use that make my life a little easier.

Here are a few of my favorites when using Microsoft Word but keep in mind that they may work with other software programs and the Internet as well:

CTRL and C , CTRL and V, and CTRL and X: These are the commands to copy, paste, and cut. Probably the more well-known of the keyboard  shortcuts, I use these three on a daily basis. Highlight the text you want to copy or cut and then use CTRL and V to paste it wherever you want it to go. For me, I use this often when I decide that a sentence or a paragraph I just wrote in Microsoft Word should either be deleted or moved elsewhere in the document. Or when I want to copy text and insert it into another program. A great time saver when you are searching the Internet.

Shift and F4: This is probably my biggest time saver when looking at a website or a document and I’m searching for a specific word or phrase. Hold the Shift key and then press the F4 key to open a Find box. This box, will appear at the top right of the website you’re searching and allows you to search on a specific word or phrase. It’s perfect when searching a web page for a specific surname. I find this function saves me a ton of time and effort. If that doesn't work try the alternativeto this,  CTRL key and F.

CTRL and S: Ok, who hasn’t been typing away happily and something goes wrong like the electricity unexpectedly goes out or the cat hits your keyboard and  everything you just worked on suddenly vanishes? Use CTRL and S to save periodically. Anytime I have to get up and interrupt what I’m doing I hit CTRL S just to be safe.

CTRL and P: There’s no easier way to print than hitting CTRL and P. Whether in Word or on the Internet, a printer dialogue box comes up and you are ready to print. I even use this command when I want to save something as a PDF since one of the choices in my print command box is to save a document as a PDF. Saving as a PDF is perfect when I run out of ink, paper, or am not quite ready to print out that document.

Wait There’s More!

There’s no way I could list every possible keyboard shortcut that exists for your favorite software, browser, or websites. Did you know that even Twitter has a list of keyboard shortcuts? To find them go to your Twitter account and in the top right side you will see your photo, click on that and a drop-down menu will appear with a link to  “Keyboard shortcuts.”

Twitter shortcuts 1

Twitter Shortcuts
Do you have some keyboard shortcuts you use? Seek out the shortcuts for the website, software, or browser you use the most and start using some of those shortcuts to make the most of your time on the computer.


[1] "Keyboard Shortcuts and System Commands for Popular Programs," TurboFuture (https://turbofuture.com/computers/keyboard-shortcut-keys: accessed 9 September 2018).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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Along with the daily use of Cntrl C, V, P and F, I use Cntrl A to select all and Cntrl Z to undo.
I can’t imagine not using keyboard shortcuts.

Well, keyboard shortcuts are one thing, but AutoHotKey takes it to a completely new level. I use AHK for a multitude of tasks include filling in multiple text boxes in Legacy. "AutoHotkey is a free, open-source scripting language for Windows that allows users to easily create small to complex scripts for all kinds of tasks such as: form fillers, auto-clicking, macros, etc.".

::ds::Domestic Servant = type 'ds' and you get Domestic Servant
::oca::Occupation{tab}Agricultural Labourer = type 'oca' and you get Occupation in the current text box followed by Agricultural Labourer in the next.
::c4w::Census{tab}Wales{tab}4 Jun 1841 = type 'c4w' and you get Census in the current text box, Wales in the next, and 4 Jun 1841 in the third.

Hope this is useful for someone ...


For the ones with French in their family and you do not have a French keyboard there is a nice program called "HoldKey", it is free. You just hold the key down and up pops a window with all the possible accent to chose from.

I was brought up on computers around the birth of Windows, but DOS commands were prevalent.
Apart from the above, here are some I instinctively use today, although not all programmes still support them. Ctrl+P = Print, Ctrl+Z = Undo, Ctrl+Y = Repeat, Ctrl+A = Select All, Ctrl+B = Bolden, Ctrl+I = Italicises, Ctrl+U = Underlines, Ctrl+F = opens Find dialogue box


CTRL and A = Select ALL

SHIFT and click at beginning of text desired then SHIFT and click at end of text desired to select a passage to copy/cut/etc.

I never use any of these. Very interesting. I wish you would have given a practical instruction such as how I could save this article and where to put it.

Hi Gena,
I'm old and retired as you know, but a patron at our Orange FamilySearch Library taught me a keyboard shortcut that I never knew about and has saved me so much time.

I use it when I inadvertently close a window by mistake.

You know I'll do a major search at Ancestry then use Shift + click to open each result I want to look at in a new window. Well with all those stacked windows I sometimes close a window I still need open (like my original list of matches).

That is when I can use Ctrl + Shift + T to reopen the last closed window.

This keyboard shortcut can be used repeatedly to reopened more than one closed window if you have closed a bunch and have to look through them to find the one you did not mean to close.

Barbara Renick

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