Let’s be frank— computers are complicated. Eureka moments are followed by disappointment when you realize you’ve been doing everything the hard way. We know firsthand how infuriating this can be, which inspired us to get together and come up with 10 must-have shortcuts, tricks and tips that will make your computer habits much more time effective and enjoyable. And who knows, you may even teach your kids a thing or two!
As vacation rental owners, we deal with a multitude of long documents on a daily basis. Your old method of skimming through a document to find something just isn’t a long-term solution. We don’t expect you to memorize every single word in your rental agreement, but you should be able to quickly find a specific section when asked.
1) Word Finder
Word finder will locate any word or phrase within a document. Want to double-check your bad weather clause? Simply open your rental agreement, open the word finder box, type in “hurricane” (or a keyword you know appears in the weather clause) and it will display all the places the word “hurricane” shows up in that particular document.
Thankfully, this shortcut also works on Internet pages. Instead of skimming through a webpage with copious text, try your shortcut here.
Windows: Ctrl + F (This means hold down Ctrl, then hit F.)
Mac: Apple key + F
Tip: You can also access word find in Microsoft Word through Edit > Find
2) Copy and PasteCopy and paste go together like peanut butter and jelly, so we’re including them here as one tip. If you haven’t already learned to use copy and paste, the time is now. This time-saving trick eliminates the headache of toggling between documents to make sure you transcribed the exact wording. Besides, not learning this trick is the fastest way to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!
Say you write an excellent description of your home in Microsoft Word. Later, when you are building your personal website, you want to include that text on your site. Instead of retyping everything exactly as you had it before, copy the text in Microsoft Word and then paste it wherever it needs to go (in this case, a web browser like Internet Explorer).
Hint: People often use their mouse to highlight the text and Edit > Copy in the dropdown menu. Use our quick keyboard shortcuts below to save yourself even more time.
Copy: Highlight text with mouse + Ctrl + C
Paste: Highlight text with mouse + Ctrl + V
(Or highlight text with mouse + right click)
Copy: Highlight text with mouse + Apple key + C
Paste: Highlight text with mouse + Apple key + V
3) Show DesktopDo you keep 20+ windows open and when you need to access your desktop, it takes forever to minimize each and every window? The show desktop shortcut minimizes all open windows at once and shows only your desktop. This is especially handy if you need to access something you’ve just downloaded.
Note: some versions of Windows have a built-in show desktop icon in the tray table.
Windows: Windows key + D
4) Screen CaptureScreen capture does exactly what it sounds like— it takes a shot of your computer screen as it appears in that moment, complete with the cursor, task bar, clock, and anything else appearing on the monitor. This shortcut is generally underrated and unfortunately, most people don’t think they need it until they can’t live without it.
Sometimes you will receive a PDF document that cannot be edited or saved. In this case, you could use a screen capture of the document and save it as an image file. Just be sure there’s nothing too incriminating in your task bar at the bottom of your screen— that will show up in the shot too!
Windows: PrtScn. Open Paint > File > New > Edit > Paste
Mac: Apple key + Shift + 3. Open Paintbrush > File > New > Edit > Paste
5) Spell CheckRushed typing and difficulty navigating the keyboard— not an inability to spell or write— are the culprits here. We teach owners to be wary of inquiries with typos and grammatical errors, but we’ve got news— the negative perception of bad grammar goes both ways. If your responses resemble a 14-year-old’s text message in any way, it’s time to reevaluate the quality of your correspondence with your renters.
Fortunately, this is a simple fix. Start by downloading Firefox, which is an Internet browser by Mozilla. It will automatically spell check everything you type while you are on the Internet. Firefox follows the same format as Microsoft Word, which highlights typos with a red squiggly line. You simply right click the word and it will suggest a new spelling. Not only will your e-mails finally exhibit flawless spelling, but any contact form or message board you type text into will also be checked.
Hint: If you use Outlook for e-mail, there’s an option to turn spell check on before sending. You can find it under Tools > Options > Spelling > Always check spelling before sending.
Windows & Mac: Download Firefox here
6) Zoom In and Out“Why is this font so small?” “I can barely read this!” “Is this font gray or black?” Does this sound like you? The bad news is, it’s not the screen. The good news is, your computer doubles as a set of glasses. Ah, the power of technology!
Most programs will allow you to zoom in and out of each page easily and efficiently, while preserving the quality of the page. With just two simple keystrokes, you’ll wonder how you lived your whole life without ever knowing this super simple shortcut. It might even save you the hassle of paying a visit to the eye doctor.
Hint: This keyboard shortcut won’t work in Microsoft Word. To zoom in Word go to View > Zoom
Zoom in: Ctrl + +
Zoom out: Ctrl + -
Zoom in: Apple key + +
Zoom out: Apple key + -
7) Quick Calendar ViewImagine this scenario: a renter calls for a date range next year that you suspect is a holiday weekend, but you need to see how the dates fall on a calendar to confirm it. You don’t have a calendar in front of you, but you are in front of your computer. Your Internet is down, so you can’t use your HomeAway Connect calendar. To pop a quick sneak peek at a calendar, open your computer’s time display to pop up a full calendar. You can see any month and any year, past or present, you desire.
Hint: Be sure to click “cancel” after you are done, or you will be in for a big surprise when you wake up tomorrow and it’s 2014!
Windows: Double-click clock display
Mac: Click clock display > Open date & time
8) Highlight TextAmong the most finicky of computer hardware is the mouse (on a desktop) and the touchpad (on a laptop). It’s a problem you, no doubt, face everyday— you’re trying to highlight one sentence and it keeps giving you part of another sentence. Talk about a headache! Fortunately, you can use your keyboard to thwart this problem before it rises to migraine-level frustration. We strongly recommend this keyboard shortcut over your mouse in this case, as it is much more precise.
Windows: Hold down Shift + arrow key in the direction you want to highlight.
Mac: Hold down Shift + arrow key in the direction you want to highlight.
9) Google CalculatorOkay, so maybe you have Gmail or even use Google as your preferred search engine. There’s so much more you can do with Google than just e-mail and searching— most notably, you can use it as a calculator. And we’re not talking about your everyday bill-paying calculator. You can do everything from simple addition to pre-calculus. You can even convert standard measurements in Google’s calculator.
Windows & Mac: Type equation into Google. For example, 4*3 will yield a result of 12. Type in “16 oz in lbs” and it will show you the conversion of 1lb.
10) HELP!Just when you think all hope is lost and you want to throw your computer out the window, there’s even a shortcut for that! No, it’s not the “escape” button (although that may seem tempting). No matter what program you are in, you can call upon your computer to pop up a help tool featuring assistance, training and frequently asked questions.
Mac: Apple key + Shift + ?
By using these 10 simple shortcuts and tips, you’ll be able to navigate your computer much more quickly and confidently. With all the extra time you save, you can get back to the really important tasks, like doing dishes and raking the lawn. Unfortunately, we don’t have a shortcut for that.
© Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2010