Mar 24, 2016

Stop Using Your Mouse

  • 12 Min.
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Up until the end of 2015, I refused to write any code without a mouse. A trackpad just did not cut it. Having gone from desktop to desktop, where using a mouse is standard, I became accustomed to the ease of using a mouse. When I began using a laptop regularly, I felt restricted without having a mouse at the side of my keyboard. Sometimes it is hard to break old habits. Regardless, if you are like the old me and feel that a mouse helps you work faster, I challenge you to go a week without using your mouse.

For me, it began with a day at the office that everyone’s magic mouse seemed to have run out of batteries. There was a queue of batteries to be charged and no spare batteries to put in my mouse. Not to mention, I was on a truly tight schedule and needed to get some real progress on the project I was working on. A truly horrifying experience. I vowed that I would never use my mouse again to avoid the torment and anguish I felt from having to work without one. Okay, well that last part is not entirely true, but my mouse did die, and there were no spare ones to use at that time. I took this as an opportunity to detach myself from the mouse and soon found myself stumbling into the land of keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts have drastically increased my productivity while coding. I also feel that I am in more control when using my computer. From managing windows to writing and editing code, keyboard shortcuts have become a crucial factor in optimizing my workflow, and I would like to share some of my favorite shortcuts with you. For some, these shortcuts may not be new, but if you use your mouse or trackpad for selecting text then you are probably in luck for some great shortcuts.

*Note: The following shortcuts are relevant to a Mac computer. If you are on a Windows computer, the following may not apply or may be a different sequence of key combinations. Regardless, I still encourage you to look up your keyboard shortcuts and use them to speed up your workflow.

Key Symbols

  • ⌘ Command
  • ⇧ Shift
  • ⌥ Option
  • ⌃ Control

Managing Open Applications and Windows

⌘ + TAB

Probably the most popular key combination, this shortcut allows you to toggle between open applications.

⌃ + ↑

Toggle Mission Control to get an overview of your open applications.

⌃ + ↓

Get an overview of the open windows for your currently active applications.

Bonus Tip: Download Spectacle to resize your windows via keyboard shortcuts.

​Writing and/or Editing Text

⌘ + ←

Move the cursor to the beginning of the current line.

⌘ + →

Move the cursor to the end of the current line.

⌘ +

Move the cursor to the beginning of the document.

⌘ + ↓

Move the cursor to the beginning of the document.

⇧ + ↑

Select the text from the current position of the cursor to the position one line up.

⇧ + ⌥ + ←

Select the previous word.

⌘ + ⇧ + ←

Select all of the text to the left of the cursor on the current line.


(The following shortcuts are specific to Sublime Text. However other text editors like Atom may have the same if not similar shortcuts.)

⌘ + ⌃ + ↑

Move the current line up.

⌘ + ⌃ + ↓

Move the current line down.

⌘ + ⇧ + V

Paste and Indent. This allows you to paste and keep you tab indents based on the tab position you are pasting.

⌘ + ⇧ + W

Wrap selection in a tag.

⌘ + /

Toggle comment.

⌘ + ⌥ + /

Toggle block comment.

Lastly, my favorite feature in Sublime Text that I would like to share, although it is not really a keyboard shortcut, is holding COMMAND and clicking multiple location with your mouse or trackpad to create multiple cursors. This allows you edit multiple lines at a single time.

These are just the main shortcuts that I use regularly when working. To go even one step further, you can combine these shortcuts together to speed up your workflow even more. I encourage you to look into the keyboard shortcuts for the main application you use, and I know you will find yourself becoming more productive while maximizing your time.

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