If you feel like you’re constantly typing out long URLs, spending more time than necessary copying and pasting, or dealing with too many open windows, you need to know these simple tips for streamlined browsing.
If you haven’t been using tabbed browsing, where all the pages you open are listed in tabs inside a single browser window instead of multiple windows, it is the easiest way to clean up your desktop and switch between sites quickly. To enable tabs, update to the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Internet Explorer 7. Then go to Preferences, then Tabs, and select “New pages should be opened in a new tab.” From there, start opening, closing, and switching between tabs with these simple keyboard shortcuts (Mac commands are in parentheses):
- Open a new tab: Ctrl (Cmd) + T
- Close a tab: Ctrl (Cmd) + W
- Switch tabs: Ctrl (Ctrl) + Tab
Keyboard shortcuts aren’t only useful for tabbed browsing; they can also help you navigate quickly without moving your hands to your mouse or touchpad. These shortcuts all work in Firefox, and most work in other browsers as well:
- Back: Backspace or Alt (Cmd) + Left arrow
- Forward: Alt (Cmd) + Right arrow
- Refresh: Ctrl (Cmd) + R
- Open a new window: Ctrl (Cmd) + N
- Find: Ctrl (Cmd) + F
- Select search bar: Ctrl (Cmd) + K
- Move the cursor to input text: Tab; Shift-Tab to go backward
- Bookmark: Ctrl (Cmd) + D
- Switch windows: (Cmd ) + ` or Alt + Tab
- Go to address bar: Ctrl (Cmd) + L
When trying to find URLs, preserve your tabs, or copy and save images, your best tool is the right-click on your mouse. By right-clicking a link, you can bookmark it or choose to open it in a new tab or window so you don’t have to navigate away from the page you’re on. You can also “Copy link location,” or add that URL to your clipboard, a handy trick for getting a URL you need without having to wait for a page to load. And don’t forget to paste that link with the keyboard paste command, Ctrl (Cmd) + V.
Your browser learns what you like to do, and you need to use that to your advantage. When typing URLs you’ve used before, watch for a drop-down menu to appear after you’ve typed a few letters, then use the up and down arrow keys as well as the Enter key to select the page you want. Autocomplete also works on many forms, so you don’t always have to retype your name, address, phone number, and other information every time it’s requested.
Create quick one-click shortcuts to your most-viewed sites by dragging their favicon (the little icon next to the URL) into your bookmark toolbar. If the site’s name is taking up too much toolbar space, right-click the name, select Properties and rename it something shorter. You can also create folders for your toolbar, such as “News” or “My Sites,” that’ll give you drop-down lists of the bookmarks in that folder to really help you maximize space.
If you need better organization during research than what browser bookmarks offer, try Google Notebook to collect links, images, text, and your own notes. By downloading the browser extension for Firefox or Internet Explorer 6 you can see your notebook in the bottom-right corner of the screen as you browse so you don’t have to switch away from a site to make notes; and you can add items directly through the mini notebook or through a right-click option. If you desire, you can share your notebook.