11 Keyboard Shortcuts You Must Learn

There are few obvious skills that military leaders need to be experts at…digital efficiency is usually not cited as one of them. But where do we spend the vast majority of our time? Behind the computer. Why not focus some effort on learning ways to be more efficient where we spend most of our time?


Staff Sgt. Shantae Allen and 2nd Lt. Jessica Barbee configure a laptop computer in their simulated regional contracting center. Allen serves in the 620th Contingency Contracting Team, 902nd Contingency Contracting Battalion, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. Barbee is assigned to the 90th Contracting Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wy. Photo by: Ed Worley

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts that you should already be using:

  • CTRL + C = Copy the selected item/text
  • CTRL + X = Cut the selected item/text
  • CTRL + V = Paste the copied/cut item
  • CTRL + A = Select all the items/text on a page

And here are 11 powerful shortcuts that could make you lethal behind the keyboard:

  • ALT + TAB = Switch between open program windows. This shortcut is a must to quickly transition from Outlook to other programs.
  • CTRL + Mouse Click = Select multiple items. Use this shortcut when making formatting changes to PowerPoint shapes/items. I once had a boss who would painstakingly click and format each shape one at a time. He had no idea that you could select multiple items at once to format them the same way. Very painful to work for!
  • CTRL + D = Duplicate the selected item. This is very useful in PowerPoint, when you’re building icons and making slides.
  • CTRL + Z = Undo the last action
  • CTRL + Y = Redo the last action
  • CTRL + left/right arrow = Jump the cursor to the beginning of the next/previous word. Very handy when editing emails or and text. Please don’t waste time by holding down the arrow to move your cursor across the screen.
  • CTRL + up/down arrow = Jump the cursor to the beginning of the next/previous paragraph
  • CTRL + BACKSPACE = Delete the entire previous word
  • CTRL + DELETE = Delete the entire upcoming word
  • CTRL + Roll Mouse Ball = zoom in/out in the selected window. Use this to size/resize the view on your slides or document. It will also work in Explorer to resize web pages.
  • CTRL + SHIFT + B = Open the Office Address Book. This is quicker than the moving the mouse to open your address book and search for a name.

What shortcuts can you add to this list? Leave a comment below and be sure to share this list with your team.

Questions for Leaders:

  • Are you slowing down your team because you’re stuck in your old way of doing computer tasks?
  • What would it take for you to get serious about learning to be digitally efficient?
  • What’s is your organization’s program for teaching basic digital skills?

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