Skip to main content

7 keyboard shortcuts for more productive and efficient web browsing

Keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity on a computer, although research suggests that people often don't use them in part because they're difficult to learn and remember. In this article, I'll teach you a small selection of some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts that are specific to browsing the web.

These seven keyboard shortcuts, or hotkeys as they're sometimes called, work in all the major browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Each browser has plenty more shortcuts that are specific to it, so I've stuck to just the ones that work across the board here. (Note to Mac users: The Command or "Cmd" button is the one that has an apple on it, just to the left of the spacebar.)

If you're a power user, you probably already know these, in which case pass this article along to your less technical friends, family, and co-workers. Maybe they'll appreciate the help.

1. Spacebar and Shift+Spacebar

Scroll pages faster by using the space bar to move down a page at a time, and Shift with the spacebar to reverse the action. The Shift key often reverses a keyboard shortcut action. Experiment with it.

2. Tab and Shift+Tab

Jump from one input field or text box to the next using the Tab key, and move backward by holding Shift+Tab at the same time. This shortcut is especially useful when filling out long online forms.

3. F5 (Windows) or Cmd+R (Mac)

Refresh the page with the F5 button on Windows or by pressing Command+R on a Mac. That's the keyboard shortcut to keep in your back pocket any time you encounter a page that isn't loading properly, or when you want to quickly refresh a social media feed.

4. Ctrl/Cmd+F

Find a word on the page by hitting Control+F in Windows or Command+F on the Mac, then type your word into the text box. I use this one all the time when I'm on a web page and know exactly what information I need to find. For example, say I'm on the Wikipedia page that lists the presidents of the United States of America, and I want to find information on Jimmy Carter. I'll hit Ctrl+F and type "Carter," which will show me how many instances of that word appear on the page. Note: For pages that don't load all the content at once (including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest – you know how they only load so much until you reach the bottom of the page?), you'll have to scroll down to load more content before the find tool can pick out additional instances of the word. And sometimes you have to refresh that search box by hitting enter again.

5. Ctrl/Cmd+T

Open a new tab using Control+T or Command+T on the Mac. In some browsers, you can hit Control or Command+Shift+T to open the most recently closed tabs, which is handy when you close a tab by accident.

6. Ctrl/Cmd+W

Close a tab quickly by pressing Control +W or Command+W. That's a good one to remember when you need to get something off your screen quickly, like when you accidentally load a video of meowing kittens at work and forget to mute it.

7. Ctrl/Cmd+P

You can print, which includes printing to PDF, using Control+P or Command+P. I like to use this shortcut when I'm shopping online and am worried about not receiving a confirmation email for my purchase or reservation. I'll hit Control+P to save a PDF of the confirmation page locally right away.

To see these various shortcuts in action, check out the video below: