20 must-have IE and Firefox shortcuts

Here are 20 must-know shortcuts when browsing with IE 7 or 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3 on a PC.

I spend hours and hours exploring the Web. At times all that mousing around makes my right hand hurt. So I try to use keyboard shortcuts at least some of the time. At the very least, using different muscles in the hand relieves some of the strain, and sometimes those shortcuts save time compared to the corresponding mouse commands.

In September I gave you a handful of tips and tricks to make Chrome easier to use; here's a comprehensive list of Chrome keyboard shortcuts supplied by Google.

Here are 20 must-know tips to ease your aching hands when browsing with IE 7 or 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3 on a PC.

Internet Explorer 8 shortcuts

1. Here's one I find quite useful when I'm using my laptop on an airplane without a mouse and need to copy and past from a Web page into another application or search bar. It's called caret browsing, and it has nothing to do with diamonds. Pressing F7 brings up a dialog box asking if you'd like to enable caret browsing. Click yes. You'll then see a movable cursor (the caret) that allows you to select and paste text, using well-known keyboard commands like tab, home, page up, and so on. It also works in Firefox, but not in Chrome.

2. Need to adjust the size of the text? You can increase or decrease the size of the page in 10% increments. To zoom in, press CTRL+PLUS SIGN (+). To zoom out, press CTRL+MINUS SIGN (-). To restore the zoom to 100%, press CTRL+0 (that's zero not the letter O).

3. To search the Web using different engines. Press Ctrl+E to get to the search box, followed by Control + down arrow to scroll the list of engines.

4. Here's one that gives you a Chrome-like view of open tabs as thumbnails: Ctrl+ Q. (A friend says that feature originated in Safari; that's yet another example of how competition improves products across the board.)

5. Open a new tab in the foreground: CTRL+T

6. Switch between tabs: CTRL+TAB or CTRL+SHIFT+TAB

7. Close current tab (or the current window if tabbed browsing is disabled): CTRL+W

8. Open a new tab in the foreground from the Address bar: ALT+ENTER

9. Switch to a specific tab number: CTRL+n (where n is a number between 1 and 8)

10. Switch to the last tab: CTRL+9

11. Close other tabs: CTRL+ALT+F4

Firefox shortcuts

1. If your browser is pulling up old pages, you can refresh and override the cache at the same time: Ctrl +Cmd+F5

2. Move the cursor up to the address bar: Alt + D

3. Bring the cursor to the search bar: Cntrl + Cmd (or Windows key) +K

4. Find text in a page: simply press / and type the search term. It will get you right to it.

5. Open your home page in a new tab: Alt + home.

6. Go back a page: press the backspace key.

7. Clear private data: Press alt+shift+delete (not to be confused with alt+control+delete which will reboot your computer in older versions of Windows)

8. Display the active window in a full screen: press F11. Press it again, and you're back to the previous size.

9. Move from link to link, or other actionable item by pressing the tab key. Reverse direction with shift+tab.

If your memory is no better than mine, chances are you won't remember all of these shortcuts. You might want to drop the tips that you think you'll use into a text or Word file and bring it up in a small window while browsing.

San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. He welcomes your comments and suggestions. Reach him at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net.

Follow Bill Snyder on Twitter @BSnyderSF. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.

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Bill Snyder

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