Browsing faster is not an elusive goal nor does it need drastic changes to your workflow. Adopting a few simple new habits should do the trick. Using keyboard shortcuts more often is one of them. Let’s introduce you to a few that will help you finish various browser related tasks — manage tabs, search text, open websites, delete history — faster.
Linux and macOS Users, Please Note…
If you’re on a Mac, you’ll find that most of the shortcuts listed here will work just fine if you swap the Ctrl key for the Command key. If there are any exceptions, we’ll list them along the way and give you alternative shortcuts wherever possible.
If you’re a Linux user, you’ll find that most of the shortcuts listed here will work for you. For any that don’t, it’s best to search your browser’s documentation for the right shortcuts.
For Tab and Window Management
Tabs are the most basic currency of a browser, so it’s important to know how to handle tabs and handle them fast.
Hit Ctrl + T every time you want to open a new tab and Ctrl + W to close an existing one. Accidentally closed a tab? Bring it back with Ctrl + Shift + T.
— Jen Bennett (@jbennett1985) June 10, 2016
Take your hand off the mouse and use Ctrl + Tab to switch to the next tab, and the next, and the next. Want to cycle through the tabs backwards? Add the Shift key to the mix i.e. hit Ctrl + Shift + Tab. For this pair of shortcuts, you don’t have to replace Ctrl with cmd on macOS.
Use Ctrl + 1 to jump to the first tab i.e the one on the extreme left. The shortcuts Ctrl + 2, Ctrl + 3, Ctrl + 4, and so on take you to the second, third, fourth tab, etc. This works only up to Ctrl + 8 i.e. the eighth tab.
If you’d like to jump to the last tab, use Ctrl + 9. This shortcut always takes you to the first tab on the right whether you have nine tabs open or 90. Note that it doesn’t work in Safari and Opera unless you have at least nine tabs, and in that case it takes you to the ninth tab.
Ctrl + N opens a new window. If you’re looking to go incognito online i.e. if you want to open a new incognito window, hit Ctrl + Shift + N. This is where Firefox and Microsoft Edge work a little differently. In these two browsers, you’ll need the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + P to bring up a new incognito window i.e. a Private Browsing window in Firefox or an InPrivate browsing window in Edge. Do keep these four points in mind when you browse incognito.
For Website and Web Page Navigation
If you had to memorize just one shortcut out of this entire bunch, let this be the one: Ctrl + L. It takes you to the address bar and selects its contents, which means you can start typing in a keyword or the name of a website in one step every single time. In some browsers, Alt + D and F6 work the same as Ctrl + L. See if they works in yours!
Instead of typing www.makeuseof.com in the address bar, you can get here faster by typing in makeuseof and hitting Ctrl + Enter. This shortcut appends the www. and .com parts of the URL and loads the corresponding page. Likewise, Shift + Enter and Ctrl + Shift + Enter autocomplete .net and .org URLs respectively. The last two shortcuts seem to work only in Firefox (and you don’t need to replace Ctrl with cmd on macOS in this case).
— Eric A. Silva (@SilvaEric1) June 14, 2016
Hitting Spacebar is a quick way to scroll down the page. Simple and easy to remember, right? You can scroll up by holding down the Shift key when you hit Spacebar i.e. with Shift + Spacebar.
Is a web page not loading properly? No problem. Force it to reload by hitting F5 or Ctrl + R. Of course, if you want to reload a bunch of pages, say, after reconnecting to the Internet, using an extension might be quicker than hitting F5 on every page. The bad news is that there aren’t any good extensions that do this. There are ones that auto reload tabs at set intervals, but they could turn out to be more annoying than helpful.
Need to refresh, work-in-progress *sleepy-eyes* <F5> didn't work, trust the coffee pic.twitter.com/SdMrCjNc2X
— Adit Zhang (@ARevrider) May 20, 2016
If you’re a Chrome user, you have an advantage here, because after its reconnects to the Internet, Chrome automatically reloads pages that failed to load before. You might want to go to chrome://flags and set the Only Auto-Reload Visible Tabs flag to Enabled. This is just one of the hidden Chrome settings you should be changing.
Note: F5 does not work on Safari and Chrome on macOS, but cmd+r does.
If you have ended up on a web page after clicking through a series of links and want to go back one page at a time, try Backspace (delete on macOS). Want to move in the forward direction instead? Hit Shift + Backspace (shift+delete on macOS). If you want to jump to a specific page directly, try this: click and hold the left arrow icon to the left of the address bar and in the dropdown menu that appears, select the link to the page you want to go to.
Zooming in and out of a web page is as easy as hitting Ctrl + + (to zoom in) and Ctrl + – (to zoom out). Hit Ctrl + 0 to restore the page to its default size.
Bookmarking links for later? Hit Ctrl + D to bring up the bookmark dialog quickly. Another shortcut to use more often is Ctrl + P. It brings up the Print dialog. Handy!
If you have settled down for a research session on the web and intend to launch searches for several keywords, try this: after every keyword you type in, hit Alt + Enter (or cmd+enter on macOS). This opens the search results for that keyword in a new background tab, which means you don’t have to keep opening new tabs to launch fresh searches. With this trick, you can open several search pages quickly and then sort through them one by one.
A quick way to jump to the web page section that you’re looking for is by searching for keywords using the on-page search feature in your browser. Bring up the search box on any web page with Ctrl + F, type in your keyword, and hit Enter. This highlights all instances of that keyword on that page. Use Ctrl + G or Enter to go the next result on the page. To cycle through the results backwards, press Ctrl + Shift + G.
Note: Ctrl + F works on Microsoft Edge, but Ctrl + G and Ctrl + Shift + G don’t.
For Other Browser Functions
Want a quick peek at your browser history? Here, have a shortcut: Ctrl + H. The macOS equivalent of this shortcut — cmd+h — is assigned to a different function and you’ll need either cmd+y (Safari, Chrome) or cmd+shift+h (Firefox, Opera) to view browser history on your Mac.
You’ll also want to keep this shortcut in mind: Ctrl + Shift + Delete. It brings up the dialog from which you can clear your browsing history. It does not work on Opera though. On macOS, cmd+shift+delete works in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, but not in Safari.
If it’s the Downloads page you’re looking for, hit Ctrl + J. For Chrome on macOS, you’ll need to use cmd+shift+j instead of cmd+j as you’d expect. Also, you can bring up the Downloads popup menu in Safari with cmd+option+l.
Instead of keeping the Bookmarks bar open all the time, get into the habit of displaying it only when you need it and hiding it the rest of the time. Toggling that bar is easy to do with this shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + B. On Opera, however, this shortcut shows all bookmarks instead of the Bookmarks bar.
Holy crap, chrome developer tools have keyboard shortcuts. Truly I have not lived until this day.
— Eli Ribble (@EliRibble) June 9, 2016
Start with a Handful of Shortcuts
If you haven’t used shortcuts much before, a long list like this can seem overwhelming. But hey, you don’t have to memorize these shortcuts all at once. Start with the shortcuts from one section, practice them for a week till you find yourself using them automatically, and then move on to the shortcuts in the next section. How’s that sound?
By the way, if you want more ideas to speed up your workflow in any browser, go through these universal browser tips.
Which shortcuts do you always have trouble remembering? What tricks do you use to remember shortcuts better? Share your secrets for navigating the web faster.