Remote teaching: 8 keyboard hacks to make life easier

Find lost files quickly, add links with ease and avoid any awkward screen-share moments with these super-handy hacks

Grainne Hallahan

Online learning: Eight keyboard shortcuts for teachers

Your keyboard is a powerful tool, used for everything from planning lessons to crafting carefully worded feedback and sharing lofty thoughts on Twitter.

But it can do so much more – if you embrace the power of keyboard shortcuts.

Everyone knows one or two – copy and paste as Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V being the most popular, of course. But there are many more that can make your current teaching life, spent mostly at a computer, far more efficient. Here are eight more keyboard shortcuts you should know.


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The below should all work on most operating systems and web browsers, although for Macs you'll have to substitute the Ctrl key for the Cmd key.

Online learning: Keyboard shortcuts for teachers

1. Ctrl+F: Search a document

Half the time when you’re opening multiple documents it’s because you’re trying to hunt something down – a key word or phrase. You know you’ve seen what you wanted somewhere...but where?

Whether it is hunting for a student name on a spreadsheet of hundreds, or looking for a reference in a multi-page document, Ctrl+F is your saviour.

2. Ctrl+K: Add a hyperlink

This is particularly handy at present when you may want to share a link to an online resource in a piece of work that you are creating. 

Rather than hunting around for that small link icon, you can simply highlight the text you need to link, hit Ctrl+K and up pops the box to enter the link and you’re done.

This works in most online text editors, including Microsoft Word and Google Docs, so is a particularly handy shortcut to commit to memory.

3. Ctrl+N: Create a new document

This one is so simple. You only have to remember it as "n for new", especially because this is the most likely reason you open a programme – to create something new.

4. Ctrl+J: Open recent downloads

You know you already downloaded that past paper or lesson resource, but do you remember where you saved it? Unlikely.

As such, if you’re using a web browser like Chrome or Firefox, a quick Ctrl+J brings up all your recently downloaded documents, and you can find that pesky file with a jumble of numbers and letters for a name with minimal fuss.

5. Ctrl+Shift+T: Reopen a browser tab

A super-handy browser shortcut, this will reopen the previous tab you had open. So if you’ve just shown something to a class, then realise they haven’t really understood what you meant, hit these three buttons and it’ll reappear as if by magic.

6. Ctrl+Y: Redo an action

You probably know that Ctrl+Z is the undo option – but did you know that Ctrl+Y will redo something?

This can be handy if you remove something and then realise subsequently that it was actually exactly what you wanted to say or you deleted the wrong bit of text from a piece of work, for example.

7. Windows key+L: Lock screen

Pressing L and the Windows key (usually right next to the Ctrl key) is a great shortcut to quickly lock your computer. This can be perfect if you're finally ready for a screen break and can't risk one more email catching your eye. 

If you're on a Mac, hitting the Cmd, Ctrl and Q buttons at the same time will do the trick.

8. Windows key+M: Minimise all windows

A very useful one to know if you share your screen and then realise there's something open that shouldn't be there. 

Windows key + M will get everything off your screen in a flash, hopefully avoiding any awkward moments. On Macs, this is a little trickier – you'll need to hold down the Cmd and Alt keys, and then press H and M together.

Got a keyboard shortcut you think others should know about? Let us know in the comments below.

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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