I was observing my own habits the other day and noticed that there are certain things I do without even thinking. I am definitely a keyboard user. I can’t remember the last time I used a “mouse” — my laptop has a built in touchpad, and I’ve used an external touchpad for my desktop system for close to 6 years.
First, I noticed a pattern; I operate in two different modes – active working mode and casual reading/browsing mode. When I’m in casual reading/browsing mode, I noticed that instinctively my hands rest in two positions: with my left hand thumb on the Alt key, and my left hand index finger on the tab key poised to cycle through my open applications with Alt + Tab; and with my right hand index finger on the right side of the touchpad for scrolling up and down or moving back and forward in my browser.
Of course, after noticing this habit once, I started paying more attention to other habits I had – like keyboard usage. With FireFox open almost the entire day I looked at the keystrokes I used regularly. Here they are, in rough order from most to least important/frequently used:
- Ctrl + T
- Opens a new tab, and places focus in the location bar. One tab and I’m in the built in Google Search box. Nice.
- Alt + D
- Goes to the location bar, highlights the current address so that I can copy it, paste over it, or just start typing.
- Ctrl + Tab / Ctrl + Shift + Tab
- Cycles through the open tabs either forward or backward (using shift)
- Ctrl + H
- Takes me to my home pages; currently AccessifyForum and my helpdesk software, each in their own tab.
- Alt + S
- Opens/closes Sage in my sidebar; it is a great little RSS/Atom reader for easy digestion of my favourite sites.
- Ctrl + Numpad plus / Ctrl + Numpad minus
- Update: also works with main keyboard plus and minus signs.
- Scales text size up and down accordingly to adjust for microtype sites or for viewing at a distance while casually reading.
- Ctrl + 0 “zero”
- Recently discovered. Resets text size back to default. Ultimately convenient when switching back to testing/developing from casual reading. This only works with the main keyboard zero, not the one on the number pad.
- Ctrl + Shift + E
- With Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Extension, this takes me to Edit CSS mode, opening a sidebar containing all the CSS for the current page. Allows for live editing of CSS. Huge time saver for debugging CSS problems or for WYSIWYG CSS development.
- Ctrl + Shift + V
- Again, with Chris’ toolbar, validates current page. Opens in a new tab.
- Ctrl + U
- View source. Must have.
- Ctrl + Y
- Opens download dialog box. Not used often, but handy when I need it.
These are the keystrokes setup by default with the extensions I have and in the version of FireFox I am currently running. I haven’t played with it much yet, but there is a KeyConfig Extension that allows you to customize your keystrokes.
Yes, we all use the web differently. What are your patterns?