Who doesn’t love a nice, convenient hotkey? I personally think the only thing that can replace keyboard shortcuts (on PCs and Macs), could be the ability to transmit commands via brain signals, and that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. Keyboard shortcuts have transcended beyond desktop, and work on many websites and web apps, making it easier to navigate them. Almost all popular sites support keyboard shortcuts, and the following is a simple compilation of keyboard shortcuts for Gmail, Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook, and YouTube, some of the most visited and used portals across the world wide web. Since they are shortcuts, there isn’t much of an opinion to have about them, but for what it’s worth, this list is arranged with respect to which site has the best to worst keyboard shortcuts.
Gmail is quite possibly one of the richest sites there are when it comes to supporting keyboard shortcuts. The list is virtually endless, and that’s why only the most frequently used ones are being listed here. The slightly tricky thing about these shortcuts is that they have to be enabled. Go to Gmail settings (the cog wheel to the top right), and turn keyboard shortcuts on in the General tab to get started.
c – Opens a new email for composing
n/p – Lets you move to the next or previous message within a conversation thread. This works only if you have an email thread open. It does not let you move to the next conversation thread
y and o – This shortcut works in a combination and allows you to archive the current email you are viewing and move to the next one
z – Lets you undo an action (provided undo is supported for it)
g and a – This is another combination shortcut and it allows you to quickly visit the All Mail tab
g and i – Takes you to your inbox
The list is fairly exhaustive, and these are some shortcuts that you would perhaps need more than the others. The complete list can be viewed here.
Twitter definitely comes out on top as far as keyboard shortcuts on social media sites are concerned. If you took to using Twitter from its web interface after the recent redesign, you might just love the shortcuts even more. You can view a complete list of the shortcuts by hitting ? on the service’s interface, but here are the key commands for some of the most frequently used actions.
j/k – let you move between tweets
. – Lets you refresh the page and move to the top of your timeline
n – Compose a new tweet
r – reply to a tweet
t – retweet
f – Favorite a tweet
The recent redesign and right-click functinoality support isn’t all that makes the service easy to use. Dropbox has very intelligently integrated keyboard shortcuts to make navigating files and folder super easy, or, as similar to viewing files on your desktop as possible.
The Up/Down arrow keys let you select the next or previous file. You can hold down the Shift key and continue on with either of these arrow keys to select multiple files in range
Control + a lets you select all files. If you’re using a Mac, you will use Command+a.
Escape – The escape key lets you unselect all selected files
Control + c/v – Dropbox supports the traditional copy/paste function for files and lets you easily move them between folders.
The left arrow key lets you go back a folder level and the Delete key lets you take a file out to dinner. Kidding, it deletes the file.
You can view the complete list anytime by hitting ?
Not many people know about Facebook’s keyboard shortcuts, and those that do know, probably try their best to forget them, since they are far from impressive. Of the five popular sites in this post, Facebook is the only one that relies on additional function keys, i.e., the Alt key for its shortcuts. Why is it so bad? Because Facebook and its shortcuts are used on the web interface, which is viewed in a web browser. Web browsers make extensive use of the Alt key, and that means you have different shortcuts for Chrome and Firefox.
Alt + ? – Focus the search bar
Alt + 1 – Go to your home page
Alt + 2 – Go to your profile page
Alt + 3 – Go to your friends’ page
Alt + 4 – Go to messages
Alt + 5 – Go to your Notifications page
The list goes on with Alt being used in combination with all 10 numbers; 6 for Account Settings, 7 for Privacy settings, 8 for the Facebook page, 9 for Facebook statements and the rights page (Facebook obviously thinks people will/should visit this page frequently enough to need a keyboard shortcut for it), and 0 for Facebook help center. Memorize them if you can. The only good shortcut it has is the L key that lets you like a photo when viewed in theater mode. Surprisingly, there is nothing that lets you quickly activate the status update field.
If you use the shortcuts in Firefox, you will need to use the Alt+Shift combination; for Mac, the Alt key will be replaced with the Ctrl key.
As bad as Facebook’s shortcuts are, they nevertheless rely entirely on the keyboard. YouTube does things differently. The shortcuts that it supports are only for the player. For all other items, you have to tab through them one by one (as if it were the year 2000), and hit Enter to be able to engage them
The media player shortcuts are only half useful, since you have to make sure the seek bar is selected, and for that you need your mouse. You can then use the Tab key to move between the controls. The right/left arrows allow you to move a video 5 seconds forward or backwards. The up/down keys let you increase or decrease the volume. The Home/End keys let you move to the start or end of the video, while the spacebar lets you pause/play the video. There’s a whole host of missing shortcuts, including something that would let you quickly visit one of the suggested videos.
For those that are just discovering these shortcuts, enjoy the convenience they lend. Meanwhile, let’s all hope both YouTube and Facebook overhaul the options they have on offer.