Text Editing Hacks

Have you had a text-free day? By that I mean have you made it to whatever hour of the day you are reading this and not typed or tapped any characters on an electronic device? I would wager that you haven't, and I would also wager that you, in the company of so many, could improve the efficiency of your text editing prowess, and save yourself some precious keystrokes and time.

So for the express purpose of improving text editing efficiency, here are some text editing tips to try out. These tips should apply to all computing platforms, though there are some minor differences between Windows and Linux, for example. Also note that the following tips are derived from computing with a mouse and keyboard. Smartphone and tablet shortcuts might appear in a future blog entry.

Get the Attitude

Be prepared for change. Being keyboard and mouse efficient requires practice, and probably changes to your general computer input behavior and attitude. Think of your computer like a musical instrument. Unless you play a kazoo, it takes two hands. Use both of your hands. Be prepared to mouse about at the proper time with one hand, and manage keyboard shortcuts when it is most efficient, with the other hand.

Some Tips

Below, are some text editing and selection tips that can save you a lot of time as you use your computer on a day-to-day basis. Try them out and practice them until they become habit and you will help reduce your likelihood of repetitive stress injuries while improving your overall productivity.

Double-Click Words

Only click-drag when you need to. Instead of click-dragging across the letters in a word to select a word, try double-clicking on the word. This can save a lot of repetitive hand and wrist movement that may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Double-clicking a word is also much faster and more accurate than click-dragging.

Use Shift to Select Text Regions

When working with text, the SHIFT key allows you to anchor the "starting point" selection of text wherever the cursor is positioned at the time you click the mouse button. If you hold down the SHIFT key after your initial text selection click, you may move the mouse pointer anywhere else within the text to select the "end". Use the "Peter Piper..." text below to try this out.

  1. Left-click the mouse somewhere in the text below, then hold down the SHIFT key on your keyboard.

  2. Keeping the SHIFT key down, click somewhere else, before or after the insertion point. You should see that your text selection fills in between the first and last mouse click.

Use Alt and the Left or Right Arrow keys to jump forward or backward one word at a time.

When text is highlighted and you want to replace the text, just type the text you want to replace the selection with.

Use Page Up and Page Down to move through a screen of content at a time.

Learn more operating system shortcuts.

Here are some of my personal favorites.

All Platforms

  • Control / Command + Z to undo.
  • Control / Command + X to cut.
  • Control / Command + C to copy.
  • Control / Command + V to paste.
  • Control / Command + W to close the currently active window.
  • Control / Command + P to print.


Control + Alt + T to open the terminal.


  • Shift + Command + D to go to your Desktop.
  • Shift + Command + H to go to your home folder.
  • Shift + Command + A to go to your Applications folder.
  • Option + Command + L to go to your Downloads Folder.
  • Command + Up or Down Arrow to navigate up or down through the folders in a hierarchical directory tree.


  • Windows Key + E to open a new Explorer window.
  • Windows Key + D to go to the Windows Desktop.

Next Post Previous Post