Let Your Fingers Do the Surfing

If you think that surfing is designed only for the mouse, think again. Those of you who gather a lot of information via the Internet should consider the most effective way to do it – and that involves using the keyboard!

Let Your Fingers Do the Surfing

The shortcuts that we will be discussing below are intended for Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), but similar commands and adaptations apply to Firefox, Netscape, and other popular browsers as well. If you use the Macintosh, don't despair. I plan to tackle Mac adaptations in a future article. (In short, Mac often uses the Apple command key instead of the Ctrl key.)

Let's try a sample surfing exercise:

  1. Type Start + arrows to browse for and open Internet Explorer.
    Note:  Once you've opened IE, you can open another instance of it (window) by typing Ctrl N. Ctrl + W closes the window, while Ctrl + T opens another page in the same instance (tab).
  2. Type Shift/Tab to navigate either forward or backward within this article; when a marquee (box) surrounds the following link, click Enter to reach it:

You can use the technique detailed in the last step to navigate to any of the links in any web page. Let's suppose we picked the link "Check your car's rates", but we want to open this link in a new tab.
Note:  You can speed up the jump between links by holding the Tab key instead of just typing it.

  1. Use Shift/Tab to navigate to the link, type the Application/Context key + W to "Open in New Tab".
  2. Type Ctrl + Tab to access the new tab; you should now be on the following page: http://moneycentral.msn.com/marketplace/home.aspx?iMarketID=8>1=33009
  3. Use Shift/Tab to navigate to the link "Get Quote", and type Enter.
  4. Type Alt + left arrow to return to the original page.
  5. Now navigate to the link "Home Insurance" using only the keyboard (NO MOUSE!);  type F4 + down arrow + Enter to return to the MSN home page.
  6. Type Ctrl + W to close all tabs.
    Note:  If there is only one tab open, then Ctrl + W will close the entire IE application.

This exercise should give you some idea of the potential for surfing without the mouse. As always, I am summarizing all the keyboard shortcuts below. Keep in mind that many of these shortcuts will not work in IE6.

A Summary of MS Internet Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts

The table below summarizes most of the Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts. This information supplements the shortcuts that I presented in my previous columns.

Desired Action


Add to Favorites

Ctrl + D

Beginning/end of page

Ctrl + Home/End

Changes URL


Closes page

Ctrl + W

Displays list of URLs



Alt + C

Favorites Options

Alt + Z

Forward/backward between pages

Alt + left/right arrows

Full screen


Home pages

Alt + M

Moves between page hyperlinks


New instance of IE

Ctrl + N

Opens Find window

Ctrl + F/F3

Opens Help


Opens IE History

Ctrl + H

Opens Internet Options

Alt + T, O

Opens new page

Ctrl + O

Opens new tab

Ctrl + T (IE7)

Organize Favorites

Ctrl + B

Page Options

Alt + P

Print Options

Alt + R

Quick Tabs (view as thumbnails)

Ctrl + Q


F5/Crtrl +R

RSS feeds

Alt + J

Scrolls through page

PageUp/Down and arrows

Shifts between tabs

(in IE6 between panels of a window)

Ctrl + Tab

Tool Options

Alt + O

Next time: We progress to keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Framemaker.

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