October 23, 2012

Surfing with Your Keyboard

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July/August 2006 Issue | Volume 32 Number 5 | Page 32

Tips and Tricks

By Dan Pinnington

Navigating the Web is pretty darn simple. You are well on your way if you master the point-and-click and your Forward and Back buttons. But with a few keyboard shortcuts, you can take your surfing to the next level.

Keyboard shortcuts are better than the mouse for surfing the 'Net because they let you more quickly jump between and around Web pages. If your hands are already on the keyboard, it is always much faster to keep them there, instead of reaching back and forth to click with your mouse.

So to ramp up your surfing speed, let's review some keyboard shortcuts for navigating between sites, as well as for finding information and moving within Web pages. Note that the shortcuts here all work in Internet Explorer 6, and the majority of them work in the Firefox and Opera browsers, too.


Navigating Between Pages

Jumping between links or digging through a site's pages is part and parcel of surfing the Web. Sometimes you find gold, and sometimes you find nothing. If you strike out, you are likely using the Back button to retrace your footsteps. Instead, try pressing the Backspace key or Alt+Left arrow, both of which accomplish the same thing. Similarly, after going backward, you can use Alt+Right arrow instead of the Forward button to return to where you were.

If I find a page with relevant information or a good list of links, I like keeping it open as an anchor so I can easily come back to it. To do this, I open and review new pages in separate browser windows by right-clicking on their links and selecting Open in New Window. Pressing Shift before clicking on a link does the same thing. In both cases, the new window will be less than a full screen so you can easily see your anchor page.

To see more of a page on the screen, use F11 to toggle between full-screen and regular views of a browser window.

And notice the little upside-down triangles next to the Forward and Back buttons? Clicking on these provides a listing of the sites you have been to, and you can jump forward or back several sites at once. Also, you can use these links to jump backward when a Web site won't let you.


Moving Around a Page

You can use scroll bars to move up or down on a page, but there are much better options for doing the same thing. If you just want to move a few lines or so at a time, use the Up or Down arrow keys. To make bigger jumps, the PageDown or PageUp key will move you down or up almost a full screen at a time. Pressing the spacebar and Shift+spacebar actually does the same thing.

Note that these shortcuts only work if the central or main frame on the page has the focus. You can manually move the focus to the main frame on the page by clicking on it.

Every once and a while you will find yourself dealing with a page that isn't loading properly. Try pressing F5 or Ctrl+R to reload or refresh the page. If that doesn't solve the problem and you're stuck on a page that is taking forever to load, press Esc to stop the page from continuing to load. You can then go back to a previous page or to another page.


Using the Address Bar

The address bar is where you enter the URLs of sites you want to visit. Most people get to the address bar by clicking on it with the mouse. Pressing Alt+D will do the same thing.

Now, carefully watch what happens when you press Alt+D (or click on the address bar): The text in the URL in the address bar will be highlighted. Pressing almost any key on the keyboard will delete the highlighted text—which is fine if you want to type something new. However, what if you want part of the highlighted text? Press Home, End or the Right or Left arrow keys and the highlighted text will remain in the address bar and no longer be highlighted. You can then edit it to the URL you want. Use Ctrl and the Right or Left arrows to jump through the URL.

Pressing F4 opens a drop-down list below the address bar listing Web sites that you've typed in the address bar. You can move down through the list by pressing the Down arrow and can jump to the highlighted site by pressing Enter.

A drop-down list of these sites will also appear if you start typing a URL in the address bar. But take a careful look at the sites listed—they will be filtered to match the text you're typing in. After typing several characters, you should see the URL for the page you're looking for. Use the Down arrow key to select it and hit Enter to avoid typing in a lengthy URL.

If you're lazy, remember that pressing Ctrl+Enter will automatically add "www." to the beginning and ".com" to the end of the text typed in the address bar.

And a kinda' scary shortcut: To see all the sites you've visited in your History, press Ctrl+H.


Finding Information on a Page

To easily find where a particular word or text is on any Web page, simply press Ctrl+F. This opens the Find dialog box. Enter the word or words you're looking for and press Enter or click on the Find Next button. You can press Enter or Find Next a second time and it will jump to the next occurrence, and so on to all subsequent appearances, until the browser tells you there are no more occurences in the remainder of the page. If you want to refine your search, see the options in the Find dialog box for matching whole words and letter case.


Take Me Home

Pressing Alt+Home will instantly jump you to your home page (the page that loads automatically every time you start IE).

To change your home page, click on Tools, then Internet Options, and in the Home Page box type the URL for the desired page in the Address box.

In the Home Page box you will also see the Use Blank button, which forces IE to open without loading a page. My browser is set to this option, which is great if I am on a slow Internet or wireless connection. IE instantly opens and I can go to the site I want without having to wait for the specified home page to load.

Now put your keyboard to use for happier and faster surfing!