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Effective keyboard usage in Linux


Photo by Theopie

KeyboardsGet used to them!

The Linux pro user community often gives a stress on doing things via the command line interface, often known as CLI. It is not just a trend but a productivity hack for people who live on Linux, all day long. Getting things done using the CLI is much more convenient, once you get used to it.

Apart from the CLI, various graphical user interfaces(GUI) too have keyboard shortcuts for most of the Linux applications. We shall now put our eyes down to some commonly used key combination to get a handful of the routine tasks accomplished without you having the need to chase your mouse!

The following set of key combination are known to work on a GNOME desktop environment, with a hope that most of it shall work on alternative desktop environments. I shall be glad to see some more entries added to the list through the comments section.

Before we start, one should remember the 4 basic keystrokes for a GNOME desktop:

  1. Escape: It cancels/stops whatever is being done on the active window.
  2. Enter: Generally used to select an option or run/open a selected file.
  3. Tab: Used to move through the links/icons/files in a sequential manner.
  4. Cursor keys: They help you move your cursor to the desired position.

Apart from them, we have a list of productive keystroke combination:

The slider is a quick & easy way to accomplish tasks which would otherwise involve long trails of the mighty mouse. You can use the following combination:

  1. Alt + TAB: It pops up the slider to select a program out of the one’s which are currently running or dormant(minimized). This happens to be a cool combination to help you switch between windows. Just keep holding the ALT and keep pressing TAB until you have the program that you want.
  2. Shift + Alt + TAB: It brings up the slider to select a menu panel and allows you to click select shortcuts, etc.
  3. Ctrl+Alt+ left/right cursor keys: It pops up the slider to move toggle over your workspace.
  4. Ctrl+Alt+d: This combination minimizes all the windows which are active, leaving behind the desktop, all in a jiffy!

Another set of key combination include Alt and the Function keys. This combination helps manage the windows:

  1. Alt+F1: This brings up the main menu.
  2. Alt+F2: This allows you to run an application by typing its name in the pop-up box.
  3. Alt+F4: It closes the active window. Equivalent to clicking the X on the corner of the window.
  4. Alt+F7: It allows you to use the cursor keys to move the window. Pressing other keys return the control back to normal.
  5. Alt+F8: It helps you resize the active window using the cursor keys. Pressing other keys return the control back to normal.
  6. Alt F9: It minimizes the active window.
  7. Alt+F10: It maximizes the active window.

You may use Alt+space to bring up the window bar menu to check out this list, just in case you forget them!

What we just saw was a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts for window management tasks. We shall now eye on the next subset of keystrokes, which involves program management tasks. The following commands are often known as Apple Lisa/IBM editing commands and most programs are known to have them. But remember, just as one size doesn’t fit all, there may be some discrepancies.

  1. F10: It gets you to the main menu of a program you are currently in. You may then use the cursor keys to get around.
  2. Shift+F10: It opens the right-click menu of the active program.
  3. Ctrl-S: It saves the active file. It’s a common and widely used command.
  4. Ctrl-Z: undos the last action.
  5. Ctrl X / Ctrl C / Ctrl V: Cut, Copy, Paste – No description needed!
  6. Ctrl F / Ctrl G: Find and find next.
  7. Ctrl O: It helps open an existing file within a program.
  8. Ctrl W: It closes the current file.
  9. Ctrl-Shift-W: It closes the active program.

Some shortcuts for Firefox users:

  1. ALT+D / CTRL+L / F6: Lets you point to the address bar in a flash.
  2. CTRL+T: Creates a new tab in the current window.
  3. CTRL+Tab: Allows you to toggle between the opened tabs.
  4. CTRL+R / F5: Refreshes the current tab.
  5. CTRL+W: Close the current tab.

With that, we infer this article. More about Linux, Open Source and productivity, very soon. Stay tuned!