Category: How to

I want it all, and I want it easily and effortlessly. And you can have it all, with this simple keyboard shortcut.

Select All with this swift Keyboard Kung Fu move

As we saw with cutting, copying and pasting, using a keyboard shortcut is often much easier and more productive when completing common tasks.

How do you currently go about selecting all the files in a folder, or all the text on a page? Do you click and drag diagonally across the files or text? Or do you right-click and then choose ‘Select All’?

Use the Command-A keyboard shortcut to achieve the same result with very little effort:

A = select all

fingers on the command a keys to select all

Using the Select All keyboard shortcut with files

As mentioned above, this nifty little move works with both files and with text. If you find yourself needing to move all the files in a folder, Command-A will enable you to select all the files in any given folder very quickly and effortlessly.

Here’s an example of how Command-A could be used with a previous lesson, Send To Trash to select all the files in a folder and to trash them:

A then delete = select all those files and send them straight to the trash

Using the Select All keyboard shortcut with text

It can also be useful when editing large slabs of text. Command-A to highlight all the text and then copy or cut or adjust the font size, colour, etc.

Here’s an example of how Command-A could be used with a previous lesson Make Your Make Speak to select all the text on a page and trigger the text-to-speach feature to have the Mac read it out loud to you:

A then S = select all the text and have the Mac speak all the text on a page.

It really is such a simple tip but it’s power is great.

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A very simple tip this time, after all, simplicity is the way of the Tao. Have you ever wanted to make a key do the opposite of it’s usual function?

More than just uppercase

Most people think of the shift key as a way of reaching the uppercase of a key. For example, the letter ‘v’ can be turned into a capital ‘V’ by using the Shift key, or the ‘@’ sign can be obtained by using the Shift key with the 2 key:

v = V
2 = @

A little known fact is that the Shift key can also be used to reverse the function of a key. In fact, we’ve already seen it in use in an earlier Keyboard Kung Fu lesson, Switching Between Open Applications.

Tabbing and shift-tabbing through fields

Online forms are a good example of how the addition of the key can be useful.

shift and tab key held down on a vintage mac keyboard

You are probably already aware that the tab key can be used to move your cursor to the next field in a form or web page. But what happens if you accidentally move past a field and now need to move back to it? It is at this point that many will take one hand off the keyboard and reach for the mouse to reposition the cursor into the previous field.

Instead, the key can be held down while tapping the tab key to move back up through the previous fields:

tab in a form = jump to next field
tab in a form = jump to previous field

This is a very simple tip that can be utilised to reduce stress and increase productivity. Try it with other keys to see what other key functions you can reverse.

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This tip will help to increase your productivity while working with text, something many of us do every day. Whether it be writing an important business proposal, or just an email to a friend, while you are typing your mind is focused on writing. You don’t want to interrupt your train of thought by having to take your hands of the keys to operate a mouse just to move the cursor to a different point in the text. Instead, the same result can be achieved with a few taps of the arrow key.

One letter at a time too slow? An alternative option

Tapping that cursor arrow can get tedious very quickly if you find yourself needing to move around the text a lot. You may find that this tip is limited to certain apps, but this is where the Option key can be your arrow keys’ trusty companion. Holding the left Option key down with your thumb while tapping the left or right arrow keys will soon become second nature.

= move forward through the text word by word.

Option and forward arrow keys on a mac keyboard

Too many words in a line? You are in command

An additional tip that works well with this one is the Command key. Holding down the Command key instead of the Option key while tapping the left of right arrow will jump you straight to the end of the line.

= jump to the end of the line

Horizontal and Vertical

Both of these tips work moving back and forward through text horizontally but you can also move through lines and paragraphs by applying the same techniques.

= move up through the text paragraph by paragraph
= jump to the top of the page



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Sometimes you need to get the volume just a bit lower than the first notch. Is that even possible? It certainly is! All you need is a little Keyboard Kung Fu know-how.

Adjusting the volume

Apple Remote ControlThere are a few different methods of altering the volume of the speaker output on the Mac. Back in the old days every Mac used to come with it’s own infra red remote control that could be used not only with iTunes but also with other video and audio apps as well as the fundamental aspects of the Mac’s operating system. I must confess, my little white remote still lives in my pocket and I use it many times every day, mainly for altering the volume when not sitting in front of my computer.

While I am sitting at my Mac though, I find that the keyboard’s own volume keys are without question the fastest and easiest means of adjusting the volume.

Shows the normal way of decreasing the volume

Decreasing the volume using the volume keys

Can you turn it down just a bit more please?

In those quieter moments it can be beneficial to have greater control over the volume levels. Perhaps you have earbuds in, or are in a quiet place and find that even at the lowest volume setting that last notch is just not low enough.

This is when it is beneficial to know how to adjust the volume in finer increments.

Keyboard shortcut showing Incremental Volume Animation

Decreasing the volume in finer gradations.

While adjusting the volume, all you need to do is hold down two additional keys, Option and Shift:
F11 = Decrease volume in incremental steps.
F12 = Increase volume in incremental steps.

With the addition of the Option and Shift keys the volume can be made to go as low as 0.25.

Smaller increments of brightness too

Way back in Audio/Visual Adjustments we saw how the Option key could be used with a range of buttons across the top of the keyboard, otherwise known as the F keys.

Here’s a little extra tidbit: this shortcut also works with the brightness controls.

F1 = Decrease brightness in incremental steps.
F2 = Increase brightness in incremental steps.

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Today we look back at some previous Keyboard Kung Fu lessons and use them in an exercise to consolidate our understanding of browsing the web using tabs.

Revision: Three Previous Lessons

Let’s quickly refresh our memories with three recent posts involving tabs in the web browser.

Go to back to the previous page, go forward to the next page

Load previous webpage in SafariIn Previous, Next Page we learned how to go back to the previous page by holding your thumb on the key and tapping the [ key with your index or middle finger.

Return to the page you were on by moving the next page with the key and the ]

Moving back and forward in the browser’s history in the way provides a fast and easy way to navigate through pages that you’ve already visited.


Opening additional tabs

Command-T keyboard shortcutThe Open a New Tab lesson demonstrated how to have multiple websites open in one window by opening additional tabs in the browser.

T = open a new tab
W = close the current tab

Open a link in a new tab

We can also open any links we see in web pages in separate tabs. Instead of clicking on the link in a webpage, hold down the Command key first and then click the link.

-click = open the link in a new tab


Switching between open tabs

Mac keyboard showing how to switch tabs with Command and number keysThe Switching Tabs post taught us how to use the Command key and any number key to switch between tabs that we currently have open.

1 = move to 1st browser tab
2 = move to 2nd browser tab
3 = move to 3rd browser tab, etc.

Using the arrow keys to switch tabs

We also saw how you can use the left or right arrow keys to switch tabs in the Safari browser: & and that the same can be done in the Chrome browser by using the & keys.

Alternatively, you can cycle through the open tabs in most browsers with the universal tab-switching keyboard shortcut: `.


Exercises: Tabbed Browsing

Now that we’ve recapped a few previous keyboard shortcut lessons that enable us to work with tabs in the web browser, let us apply these techniques to some real life simulations.

Seven shortcuts in one photo

Exercise 1: Grasshopper Level

In this scenario you currently have your web browser open with a single tab loaded with this page that you are reading right now. While reading this sentence you see this link to the main Keyboard Kung Fu page and would like to visit it to read some of the past lessons.

Task: Visit the Keyboard Kung Fu page by clicking the link above, then click on a link on that page to visit one of the past lessons. Now return to this page using only the keyboard.

Exercise 2: Master Level

A similar scenario: you currently have your web browser open with a single tab loaded with this page that you are reading right now. While reading this sentence you see this link to the main Keyboard Kung Fu page and would like to visit it to read some of the past lessons.

However, this time you would like to load a few of the previous lessons in separate tabs without leaving the main Keyboard Kung Fu page.

Task: Visit the Keyboard Kung Fu page by clicking the link above, then open three links in three new tabs. Now visit each tab and then return to this page using only the keyboard.

Exercise 3: Sage Level

A different scenario this time: You are reading a page that just has a URL, it’s not clickable. http://www.vintuitive.com/keyboard-kung-fu/

Task: Highlight the link above. Now using only the keyboard, copy the link, open a new tab, paste the link into the address bar and visit the page. Close that tab to return to this page, again using only the keyboard, no mouse.

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Do you find yourself opening several tabs while surfing the web? It doesn’t take long before you have ten or more tabs open in one browser window. Moving between these open tabs efficiently is made swift and easy with a few simple keyboard shortcuts.

Switching between open tabs

Use the Command key and a number key to switch directly to any particular tab.

1 = move to 1st browser tab
2 = move to 2nd browser tab
3 = move to 3rd browser tab, etc.

Mac keyboard showing how to switch tabs with Command and number keys

Using the arrow keys to switch tabs in Safari

While using the Safari browser, hold down Command and Shift together with either left or right arrow key will switch through your tabs. For example:

= move to the tab to the left of the current tab.
= move to the tab to the right of the current tab.

Using the arrow keys to switch tabs in Chrome

In Chrome the keyboard shortcut is a little bit different. Instead of using the Shift key, exchange it for the Option key:
= move to the tab to the left of the current tab.
= move to the tab to the right of the current tab.

One keyboard combo to switch all tabs

Alternatively, you can cycle through the open tabs in most browsers with the universal tab-switching keyboard shortcut Control and the Accent Grave keys (that’s the same as the tilde key):
` = cycle through open tabs in a browser.

Next week we’ll look at consolidating three previous lessons on tabbed browsing: moving back and forward in the browser’s history, opening new tabs, and Switching between browser tabs with some practical exercises.

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Surfing the web with the use of multiple tabs in the browser can be great for increasing productivity.

One browser, many tabs

We’ve already seen how to move back and forward through the web browser’s history, but sometimes it is more advantageous to surf laterally instead of chronologically. We do this by using more than one tab at a time.

Often while reading a web page, I’ll want to open another tab, either to do a quick web search or to view another website without leaving the page that I am currently reading. I can then close the newly opened tab when I’ve finished and be returned back to the page that I had left earlier.

In these situations I’ll use the Command-T keyboard shortcut:
T = open new tab in front of the current tab.

Command-T keyboard shortcut

A new tab opens in front of the current tab and the cursor is placed in the address bar ready for you to enter a URL. Type in the website address that you’d like to visit and press the Return key to load the page.

Here are a few more tips related to opening and closing tabs:

Open a link in a new tab

Web pages are often full of links and can lead you down a veritable rathole if you were to follow them while reading a page. That would be very distracting. So what can you do? Ignore them? Finish reading the article then scroll back up the page and follow each link?

Links can be opened in new tabs that load in the background allowing you to continue reading the current page without distraction. Instead of clicking the link as usual, hold down the Command key first and then click on the link:
-click = Open a link in a new tab behind the current page.

Using this technique you could load all the links on the page in individual tabs in the background, enabling you to continue reading the current page without distraction. Once read, you can then switch tabs to read the other pages that were linked to in the original article.

This -click technique can also be used on the browser’s back button to open the previous page in a new tab behind the current tab.

Commanding closure

Once you’ve finished with the current tab it can be closed, returning you to your previously opened tab. To close the current tab use the Command-W keyboard shortcut:

W = close the current tab.

Reopen a recently closed tab (Chrome only)

If you accidentally close a tab in Chrome, you can easily reopen it with the Shift-Command-T combination:
T = reopen a recently closed tab

We will continue working with tabs in the next Keyboard Kung Fu lesson.

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