Tagged: Computers Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Toban Wiebe 2:35 pm on May 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Keyboard ninja skills 

    A keyboard ninja is someone who uses the keyboard to do things that most people would use the mouse for. Keyboard ninja’s can get stuff done way faster than mousers, and sometimes it can be mesmerizing to watch a good keyboard ninja flying through a task at speeds you’ve never dreamed of.


    To become a keyboard ninja, you should be familiar with the basic Windows keyboard shortcuts. These work in pretty much all programs:

    • Control key shortcuts
      • Ctrl+a: Select All
      • Ctrl+x: Cut
      • Ctrl+c: Copy
      • Ctrl+v: Paste
      • Ctrl+z: Undo
      • Ctrl+f:  find/search
    • Alt key shortcuts
      • Alt is often used to access program menus (e.g., File, Edit, etc). Just press and release Alt and they keyboard focus will be on the menus. Navigate with the arrow keys or by pressing the underlined letters.
      • Whenever you see a single underlined letter in a word (usually in buttons, check box options), you can hold Alt and press that letter instead of clicking.
      • Alt+F4: close program
      • Alt+Tab: switch program. You can hold Alt and repeatedly press Tab to cycle through programs. Alt+Shift+Tab cycles backwards.
    • Win key shortcuts
      • Win+’search term’: the Win key opens the start menu and in Windows 7 you can start typing to search your computer.
      • Win+d: show desktop
      • Win+e: launch Windows Explorer (“My Computer”)
    • Tab
      • Tabbing is a very basic keyboard ninja skill, mainly used when better keyboard navigation is not available. In almost every program, you can Tab to cycle through the interface. Shift+Tab cycles backwards.
    Next, considering that you probably spend most of your time in a browser, let’s looks at some useful browser shortcuts:
    • Ctrl+l: select address bar (that’s an L)
    • Ctrl+t: new tab
    • Ctrl+w: close tab
    • Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PageDown: switch to next tab
    • Ctrl+Shift+Tab or Ctrl+PageUp: switch to previous tab
    • Ctrl+d: add bookmark
    • Alt+left/right arrows: back/forward
    • Backspace: back
    • F5: refresh/reload page
    • F11: fullscreen mode
    Many web apps are adding keyboard shortcuts for convenient navigation. If you use the app a lot, it’s definitely worth learning the shortcuts. They usually use the same basic keys so it’s easy to remember them all. And it’s standard for ‘?’ to bring up an overlay with the keyboard shortcuts, which is really handy for learning them.
    • Google search is now keyboardable using the arrow keys. Enter opens the link, Ctrl+Enter opens it in a new tab.
    • Gmail and Google Reader have great keyboard navigation
    • Hotmail
    • Yahoo! Mail
    • This website

    These fundamentals are enough to make you a pretty good keyboard ninja. But these next tricks will really help you take your skills from impressive to amazing.



    • Use an application launcher, this makes it super easy and quick to start a program or open a folder. I love Launchy.
    • If you’re really serious about customizing/creating keyboard shortcuts and automating just about anything, spend some time learning Autohotkey. It’s like playing god with your computer.


    • Open links using ‘find-as-you-type’ links mode (press ‘ and type). Enable it in Firefox (Options > Advanced). Download the extension for Chrome.
    • To take mouseless browsing to the next level, try a Vim-like browser extension. I swear by Vimium for Chrome, it’s very simple to use and incredibly useful. Pentadactyl for Firefox is more for experienced Vim users.


    This guide will give you a great start, but a good keyboard ninja keeps learning new moves to his skill set. Learn the keyboard shortcuts for programs you use frequently. And practice, practice, practice! Try not to use that mouse. Print yourself a cheat sheet. You need to internalize them.

    Did I miss any good ones? Let me know in the comments.

    • Marcus 8:33 am on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Another very useful TAB keyboard shortcut is Command-Tab (Mac), (Ctrl-Tab in Windows) this cycles through open applications on the desktop. A single Command-Tab flips to the previously active window and another Command-Tab flips back to the active window you just left – very useful for comparing/transferring data from one window to another if you don’t have multiple monitors or sufficient desktop real estate to keep both windows open simultaneously. Command-Tab TAB TAB etc., cycles through all running applications without having to reach for the mouse.

    • Marcus 8:39 am on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      In Gmail and Feedly (and many other applications that run in the browser) I use “J” and “K” all the time for next item, last item and the spacebar for pagedown in web pages and pdf documents

    • seodaz 2:40 pm on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      For those who code, and constantly need to select lines, the ninja combination [end > shift+home] is a great way of saving time normally spend selecting a line with the mouse (tripple clicking sucks really badly).

    • segawa 2:58 pm on May 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply


  • Toban Wiebe 11:13 pm on July 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    How to enable AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet in Windows 7 

    In Windows XP there’s a driver and utility (on the ASUS Support site) for the Cool ‘n’ Quiet functionality. (It throttles CPU speed when not needed to reduce heat and power consumption). But in newer versions of Windows, there’s no driver available because it’s not needed; Windows supports it natively. First, make sure it is enabled in the BIOS. Then, open Power Options from the Control Panel and set it to Balanced or Power Saver mode. Either of these will activate the Cool ‘n’ Quiet functionality.

    I verified this in Windows 7 (64-bit) using CPU-Z. When it’s working, the Core Speed and Multiplier will change according to the processing load.

    • nice 9:48 pm on September 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Nice, worked imediately! Thanks!

    • Leandro dos Santos 8:08 pm on November 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      In Asus A8V and A8V-X don´t work in Windows 7 32 and 64 bits, even installing the AMD driver in Compatibility mode. Solution: Use RMClock program and configure power states it according to the stages of clock and voltage of your CPU and works perfectly.

  • Toban Wiebe 4:37 pm on May 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Using screen space efficiently with Gridmove 

    [Update: I’ve discovered that Windows 7 snap has keyboard shortcuts. Just use ‘win’ and the arrow keys to see what you can do. If you’re fine with a 50/50 split, this is all you need. Very nice with the hotkeys.]

    The snap feature in Windows 7 is nice, but Gridmove is even better (and it’s open source—take that Microsoft!). I consider it among the best of my favorite programs. Gridmove is very simple: it lets you easily move windows into custom positions. This is important because desktop displays are getting bigger and more importantly, wider. A widescreen is good for watching video, but for surfing the web and reading, vertical screen space is the limiting factor. All that horizontal space is left half empty, so why not use it for something else?

    Gridmove comes with several grids to choose from, but it’s fairly easy to customize by editing the .grid file. My grid for a widescreen monitor splits the screen left/right in a 13:11 ratio, which works nicely for pairing a browser with Google Docs. Grab it (customize it) and use it by dropping it in the ‘Grids’ folder then enabling it under ‘Templates’. It also includes these features: Maximize, Minimize, Always on Top, and 2nd monitor (Gridmove works seamlessly with multiple displays).

    The best part about Gridmove is, in my opinion, that you can use keyboard shortcuts to whip your windows into place! Enable ‘Fast Move’ (under ‘Hotkeys’) and create a keyboard shortcut under ‘Fast Move Modifiers’ (e.g., ctrl + win). Use this keyboard combo along with the numpad—each number corresponds with its entry in the .grid file. I disable the dragging features and exclusively use the keyboard method.

    I use Gridmove mostly for throwing windows to my second screen or putting two tabs side by side, especially when writing or researching. I keep a Google Doc on the right and my browser on the left (and something else on the second monitor!). In Chrome and Firefox, you can drag out a tab to make it a new window and then position it with Gridmove.

    Beyond Gridmove, I’ve found a few great ways to make efficient use of vertical screen space. The first is Google Chrome: it’s the most screen space efficient browser, with tabs in the title bar and no spacehog toolbars. The application shortcut feature offers even more viewport area by cutting out everything but the title bar. Application shortcuts work great for webapps such as Gmail, Reader, Remember the Milk, etc., especially on a second screen. (If you must stick with Firefox, put the address bar and buttons up next to the menus and hide the lower two toolbars.) The second is to simply dock the Windows taskbar on the vertical axis. Just unlock it, drag it to one side, and resize it as desired. Third is to use “Two-Up” in Adobe Reader (View > Page Display or “alt, v, p, u”). This puts two pages up side by side, and works great for most pdfs.

    In sum, get Gridmove to split your widescreen into a virtual dual-screen. Then get Chrome, dock your taskbar vertically, and use “Two-Up” when reading pdfs.

  • Toban Wiebe 4:47 am on May 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Ebook Readers and Mises.org 

    The Mises Institute is cranking out .epub versions of its vast library of free literature. In addition to all of the free pdfs, this makes an ebook reader a valuable tool for Austrian and libertarian readers. As more books are published in epub and ebook readers improve in quality and fall in price, this technology is becoming a real boon for Mises.org readers as well as a great new medium to spread the Austrian literature. Students will also greatly benefit if they can find their textbooks online (search on The Pirate Bay and Ebookee.)

    A reader will save you a lot of money on books, and is much easier to carry around than paper books. The screens are “virtual paper”—reflective displays, similar to an etch-a-sketch. This makes it easier on the eyes to read for long periods (whereas backlit LCD displays make the eyes sore after a while). I also like that you don’t have to hold it open, which is a major nuisance with books.

    I recently tried out the Sony PRS-600: it worked great except for two problems. 1) It’s too small to be practical for reading 8.5″ x 11″ pdfs. 2) The screen had too much glare and too little contrast while reading inside on a cloudy day. This may be due to the touchscreen layer, but hopefully the problem will be overcome soon.

    For reading academic literature, screen size is important. Epub looks good on any size of display, but pdfs pose a problem. Pdfs are generally too large to fit comfortably onto a 6″ display. A 9” display would be perfectly able to handle full size pdfs. Some ebook readers can extract the text and reflow it in a larger font, but this jumbles headers and footnotes with the main text. If the pdf page size isn’t too big (as with pdfs of books and journal articles), you can crop or trim out the margins to get a readable fit. Here are a handful of programs for doing this:

    • pdflrf (torrent): crops and converts to images (Sony format)
    • soPDF: pdf to pdf conversion, non-image so text is reflowable and searchable
    • PaperCrop: converts to images, optimized for reader screens
    • pdfRead: converts to images
    • PDF Cropper: full-featured tool, but free version makes watermarks

    I returned the Sony Reader and I’m going to keep my eye out for a model with a larger display. Right now, both Copia and Asus look promising, and should be releasing soon. An important consideration is when to buy: the technology is still fairly new and expensive, and will certainly improve markedly over a short period. Like PCs, they will become obsolete quickly, but they should become cheap enough that it won’t matter. Even at the current primitive stage, the benefits are already substantial. You should at least start thinking about buying an ebook reader instead of paper books.

  • Toban Wiebe 10:16 pm on March 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Gmail Google Reader and Remember The Milk are… 

    Gmail, Google Reader and Remember The Milk are the big three webapps that have the wonderful ‘j/k’ keyboard shortcuts for navigation. They let you command the app without taking your hands off the keyboard. Essentially, ‘j’ moves the cursor down the list, ‘k’ moves it up, and ‘o’ or ‘Enter’ opens the item (and there are many more great hotkeys, too). These hotkeys make for a very pleasant user experience. They’re way faster than mousing, and especially laptop track-pads.

    I’d like to see ‘j/k’ navigation become a common convention in web-apps and websites. Any app or site with items in a list would benefit: search results, blog archives, forums, etc. Some sites badly need it, like Google Docs (for navigating the doc list) and Youtube (for search results). Forums are also an ideal candidate (navigating the threadlist, posts, jumping to different forums, etc). Google Experimental Search adds hotkeys for Google search results (very nicely implemented as usual). A WordPress plugin and a bbPress plugin would really help to spread ‘j/k’ navigation as an unofficial web standard on blogs and forums.

    Major sites with keyboard navigation:

    • Gmail
    • Google Reader
    • Google Calendar
    • Google Maps
    • Google Search
    • Remember The Milk
    • Yahoo! Mail
    • WordPress comment moderation (from the admin panel)
    • Netvibes
    Other noteworthy implementations of ‘j/k’ navigation:
  • Toban Wiebe 6:02 am on March 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Firefox vs Chrome 

    A comparison of the pros and cons of Firefox 3 and Chrome 4:

    Firefox 3

    • Awesome Bar (address bar) instantly pulls up results from history and bookmarks
    • Search keywords: search other sites from the address bar
    • Bookmark keywords: bookmark shortcuts
    • Type-ahead-find (aka find-as-you-type or quick find): links only mode is great for mouseless navigation


    • Slow cold starts (sometimes painfully slow)
    • Screen-space inefficient: the best you can do is have one toolbar, but that still leaves the title bar and status bar

    Google Chrome 4

    • Super fast startup and browsing
    • Very screen-space efficient: title bar is eliminated and status bar is replaced with an unobtrusive popup whenever a link is hovered
    • Omnibox (address bar) remembers any site you search so you can search it from the address bar (‘press tab to search this site’)
    • Address bar instantly fills with commonly used URLs (no need to press down to select the result)


    • Omnibox is weak at pulling results from history and bookmarks. Slow and inconsistent. Just doesn’t retrieve stuff like Firefox does.
    • Lacks a native type-ahead-find (what an oversight!); there is a pretty good extension that implements it, but it has some minor flaws (e.g., doesn’t integrate with the built-in ctrl+f find.)

    Both are great browsers that have some key weaknesses. Which browser is better depends on which features are more important to you. I’m split: after switching to Chrome from Firefox, I’m contemplating going back to Firefox for the quick-find and Awesome Bar, though I’d really miss Chrome’s extra screen space and speed. Hopefully these issues get resolved in future versions… Chrome would be an amazing browser if it didn’t have the two glaring weaknesses I noted.

  • Toban Wiebe 4:01 am on February 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computers   

    Chrome is now a viable alternative to Firefox 

    Firefox has been the leading browser for the last few years, but now Chrome has improved to the point that it may now be the better browser (both are excellent, open-source programs). Ever since Google launched Chrome, I’ve kept an eye on it because of two major advantages it has over Firefox:

    1. Lightning fast startup and browsing—Firefox is frustratingly slow to startup.
    2. Streamlined design that maximizes the viewport: Chrome puts the tabs up in the window frame and replaces the status bar with a transparent pop-up bar that appears when you hover over links.

    But Chrome couldn’t beat Firefox because it lacked two crucial features:

    1. A Firefox-style find-as-you-type feature.
    2. Extensions.

    Now Chrome has overcome those weaknesses, thanks to the addition of extensions. While Chrome doesn’t come natively with find-as-you-type (what an oversight!!), this excellent extension implements the feature perfectly. And with that, Chrome overtakes Firefox as my browser of choice.

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