Become Faster at Editing with these Programmer Tricks

Written By: John Glasgow


The other day I was doing some work, writing a document in Word when my wife noticed that I was editing the documents much faster than she did without taking my hands off the keyboard. I figured if it helped her that it will help others. In about five minutes, I showed her tricks that I use all the time when I’m writing code that are universally applicable to using computers.  These are some tricks and habits that I have learned to use a long time ago and save me so much time over the years.

It’s all about your keyboard

First, in most cases, the mouse is slower than your keyboard.  Think about it, if you are typing, you must take one hand off the keyboard to make an edit. Then you must move the mouse to highlight the text, right-click, move the mouse again, then click something else. There is much movement which equals more time.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

The arrow keys are handy

Using the arrow keys, you can move around (navigate) in the text of what you are working on (whether it’s a field in a website or Word or a Google Doc).  Just using these keys by themselves allows you to move up, down, left, or right by one character. If you make a typo close to where you already are, instead of using the backspace to delete everything you just wrote, remove it by using the arrow keys to where you need to go and fix the error; this will save you from having to retype.

Introducing the CTRL key

The control (CTRL) key gives you superpowers on your computer.  Not only does it save a ton of time copy and pasting (CTRL + C and CTRL + V, respectively), it can be used for navigating as well.  The CTRL key will allow you to move whole words while using it with the left/right keys.  Using the CTRL key with the up and down arrows will allow you to jump to the beginning or end of a paragraph.

  • CTRL + C = Copy
  • CTRL + X = Cut
  • CTRL + V = Paste
  • CTRL + Left or Right = Move the cursor to the left or right one word
  • CTRL + Up or Down = Move the cursor to the beginning or end of a paragraph

Introducing the Home, End, Pg Up, Pg Dn keys

The home and end keys will take you to the beginning of the line or the end of the line, respectively. Using these keys with the CTRL key kicks them up a notch by taking you to the document’s beginning or the end.

The Pg keys will allow you to move up or down the document a page at a time, perfect for quickly scanning large documents to get an overview of it.

  • Home = beginning of the line
  • End = end of the line
  • Pg Up = Move up a page
  • Pg Dn = Move down a page
  • CTRL + Home = Beginning of the document
  • CTRL + End = End of the document

Introducing the Shift key

The shift key allows you to highlight text, which you can then replace simply by typing or cut/copy the text to put someplace else.  It is worth mentioning that you can combine this with the CTRL key to highlight things faster.

  • CTRL + Shift + Left = Highlight the previous word
  • CTRL + Shift + Right = Highlight the next word
  • CTRL + Shift + Home = Highlight to the beginning of the document
  • CTRL + Shift + End = Highlight to the end of the document
  • CTRL + Shift + Pg Up or Pg Dn = Highlight a page of text of the document


These are some of the most frequently used actions that I perform on the keyboard. As a programmer, I use them all the time. I hope they are helpful for you, whether you are writing some code or just writing an email. By adding these shortcuts, you will save yourself some time.

If you have a favorite combination, please feel free to leave a comment!


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