Hands on a Keyboard

There you are: You’ve found a terrific article about your industry you’d like to post to Facebook for your fans to see. Even better, there’s a fabulous quote you’d like to include in your Status Update explaining what the link is all about.

You take a moment to click the mouse at the top of the quote and drag the mouse across the quote to highlight the section you want. With the wheels turning in your head about how perfectly this quote encapsulates what you want to say, you take a few more seconds to drag the mouse again up to the upper corner of your browser to click on the tools symbol.

Now you’ve got to move the mouse to “Copy” and click.

Next, you’ve got to navigate back to Facebook, so you drag your mouse across the screen (mouse pad) to find Facebook in your active Task Bar. (A few more seconds tick by….) Finding it, you click again. Then you drag your mouse to an insertion point in a Status Update box and click again. (Can you hear the seconds passing by?) Now you’re off again with the busiest mouse in town to find the tool button again so you can paste in your quote. (Never mind that you haven’t even begun to consider copying the URL that links your fans to the article!)

By the time you’ve finished this little exercise, proud of your accomplishment for getting a once daily post in Facebook, it’s nearly dinner time!

Man, where does the time go?

If you’re thinking, “This is why social media is such a time suck,” you are absolutely wrong.

The Magic at Your Fingertips

As Shakespeare said so succinctly, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.”

It’s true.

For years I’ve watched friends, colleagues and clients all waste enormous amounts of time in their work (not just social media) due to poor keyboard skills.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but unless you know you’re a keyboard power user, you are undoubtedly wasting hours and hours of time every month not utilizing some very simple keyboard shortcuts. (And I won’t even begin to address those of you still struggling with two finger typing. You know who you are!)

I know this may seem silly as a newsletter topic, but it never ceases to amaze me how much time gets wasted by users who don’t know keyboard shortcuts. (If I had to guess, I’d say it takes most non-power users at least four times as long to accomplish editing tasks, from Facebook posts, to Twitter, Word and other programs.)

How to Tickle the, er, Plastic Keys at High Speed

First, I’m right-handed, so all of you holding the mouse in your left hand won’t be able to apply these speed tricks in the same way. (But I’d bet that you’ve got your own shortcuts in the other hand we righties can’t use as well.)

Second, I’m not suggesting abandonment of the mouse at all. In many cases a combination of keyboard and mouse moves is the fastest way to accomplish a task. (If you’re on a Mac, it’s been years since I used one, so I can’t remember which of these shortcuts does and doesn’t work on your keyboard. The Command key is often the substitute for many of those shortcuts listed below.)

Third, my apologies if some of these seem rather rudimentary. But just like practicing chord progressions, scales and arpeggios on the piano, for your performance to improve, you’ll need to practice these moves repeatedly to make them fast and second nature in your typing skills.

In the left hand… If you’re not already using these shortcuts, start now. They will save you tons of time over the next year! (NOTE: For keyboard shortcuts in which you press two or more keys simultaneously, the keys to press are separated by a plus sign (+). For keyboard shortcuts in which you press one key immediately followed by another key, the keys to press are separated by a comma (,).)

  • CTRL+S = Save (Pinky plus ring finger)
  • ALT+F,A = Save As
  • CTRL+Z = Undo (Pinky plus ring finger)
  • CTRL+X = Cut
  • CTRL+C = Copy
  • CTRL+V = Paste

There are many, many more. (I’ve included some charts below for quick reference.) But I wanted to highlight some of the most importance keyboard shortcuts to increase your speed in performing tasks. Copying and pasting for purposes of posting to social media is one of the most common functions we perform. Here are some others:
Keyboard Shortcuts 1
Now let’s really crank up the speed machine: Let’s say for example you want to copy this sentence or paragraph into a Facebook post update from the newsletter. You may highlight it with your mouse and then click CTRL+C with your pinky and index finger to copy the text.

Next, to switch quickly to Facebook hold down the ALT key with your thumb and tap the TAB key with your middle finger. Voilà! You should see a display of all your open programs. While continuing to hold down the ALT key, keep tapping the TAB key until the Facebook screen is highlighted in the popup display. Then let go and you’re in a Maximized display of Facebook.

Just click your mouse over the Status Update box to get a cursor and then CTRL+V. Again, viola! Accurate, speedy multi-tasking.

So you see, this keyboard shortcut combination of CTRL+C, to ALT+TAB, to CTRL+V can greatly increase your task productivity once you learn to make these switches quickly between screens.

Shortcuts for Editing

You’ve pasted in your update or tweet but now decided you’d like to remove a few words. Here is another big time eater: moving the cursor around one character at a time to remove unwanted words. Do you know how long it takes to erase half a sentence by Backspacing one character at a time?

Here are few more essential shortcuts to speed your work in editing:

SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW will select one word at a time to the right. CTRL+HOME will jump the cursor to the beginning of the document. CTRL+SINGLE CLICK of the mouse will select an entire sentence. (You have to position the cursor or the mouse somewhere within the sentence to select.) Another favorite is TRIPLE CLICK the mouse to select an entire paragraph.

I know, not all of these are strictly keyboard shortcuts. Some include the mouse. (You do have two hands after all!) Here is a more comprehensive list:

Mouse Shortcuts


The Speedy Facebook Post

Let’s do one more practice session! Try this out yourself with your own links if you’d rather not use mine:

  1. I’ll assume you already have Facebook open to your business page in a browser tab.
  2. Click on 50+ Topics to Keep Your Facebook Timeline Bursting with News to launch a second tab (or second browser). (And remember, as you walk through this step-by-step, you can practice using ALT+TAB over and over as you jump back and forth between this newsletter for instructions, Facebook and my blog post page.)
  3. In my blog page that just opened, CLICK once in the URL address bar at the top to select the page address.
  4. Press CTRL+C to copy the URL highlighted in the above step.
  5. Press ALT+TAB to switch screens to Facebook. (If Facebook and my blog page are both open in the same browser but in separate tabs, instead of ALT+TAB switching you will simply CLICK your mouse on the Facebook tab to activate it.)
  6. CLICK once in a Status Update to place the active cursor.
  7. Press CTRL+V to paste the URL into the box.

Once Facebook has picked up the link, you can delete the URL typed in the update box and type in your comment. (I should note that you could simply click on the Facebook social share button in my blog post in order to post an update to your Facebook page, but that wasn’t what this lesson was all about.)

Throughout writing this article I’ve used CTRL+ARROW (left or right) quite a bit to navigate quickly within a sentence I’m working on. To rewrite sections or change the order of the words, this is a fast way to edit your comments in almost any text editing program (including Facebook, Word, Twitter and so on).

Did this help? Can you use these shortcuts to speed your social media tasks and text editing? Do you have a favorite shortcut that saves you gobs of task time? Let me know! Type your shortcut suggestions in the comments field.

If you enjoyed this article, please Share it on your Facebook page or give it a Tweet (either of which you can do from the social share buttons on this page!), or just share it with your friends.

Now that you’re armed with a host of keyboard shortcuts to speed your social media and text editing tasks, we’ll put them to use in the next several weeks as I continue this series of posts on making best use of the major social media programs.