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Take the Easy Road: Use More Shortcuts


Students and professionals everywhere depend on computers and other digital tools for everyday work and assignments. Here are some tips for protecting and organizing your classwork, starting with best practices for creating and storing files.

Whether you’re building spreadsheets, creating presentations or writing text, these habits can be real time savers.

Working with files

Save often. If you’ve ever had a power outage or computer glitch in the middle of writing your most brilliant ideas, you’ve already learned this hard lesson. Get in the habit of hitting control-s (or Apple-s on a Mac) every few minutes. Then if your computer decides to take a break, your work will be safe.

Learn the basic keyboard shortcuts. (These are common to most applications.)

  • Control-c (or Apple-c) to copy selected item to your clipboard
  • Control-x (or Apple-x) to cut selected item and place on your clipboard
  • Control-v (or Apple-v) to paste an item from the clipboard
  • Control-f (or Apple-f) to open a “find” window
  • Control-z (or Apple-z) to undo the last operation
  • Control-y (or Apple-y) to redo the last operation
  • Control-a (or Apple-a) to select everything in a document or window
  • Alt-tab (or Apple-tab) to cycle through open programs
  • Home to go to the start of a line
  • End to go to the end of a line
  • Control-home (or Apple-home) to go to the start of a document
  • Control-end (or Apple-end) to go to the end of a document

More Mac shortcuts: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343
More Windows shortcuts: http://tinyurl.com/shortcutswindows

Saving and storing docs, graphics, research and more

Create descriptive file names. Use keywords or specific titles for files, so you can find them fast if they’re misfiled. Avoid general terms like “history paper” or “notes.” Instead, use descriptors like “African-American History research.”

Save multiple versions of files. Did you ever open a document you’ve worked on repeatedly, only to realize you had deleted something you wish you hadn’t? This is an easy problem to solve: create a new version of the same document every time you start work on it.

For example, for your first draft of “Anthropology 101 Primate Case Study Report,” add two more characters to the end of the file name and call it: “Anthropology 101 Primate Case Study Report v1.”

Next time you begin working on the file again, don’t just save it. Choose Save as: “Anthropology 101 Primate Case Study v2,” and so on.

The same applies for spreadsheet or slideshow presentations. If you need to come back for previous ideas, they’re right there in the folder under an earlier version.

Organize hard drive folders according to how you use them. If you’ve ever had to sift through hundreds of files in your documents folder, you know the importance of finding a certain file quickly.

Start a new habit and stick to it. Create a folder for each class. Inside this folder, create another folder for each assignment in that class, where you can store everything – from research to documents – that applies to the assignment.  You’ll have everything you need in one place.

Spending up-front time to learn basic software skills and file organization can save you countless frustrating and wasted hours later.

– By Online Learning Tips Staff