Understanding the Keyboard

Understanding what the keyboard is, what it is capable of, and how best to utilize it will improve your web browsing experience! Below is some useful information about the keyboard and helpful tips & tricks to make your life just a little bit easier!

What is the Keyboard?

The keyboard…

  • Was the first method of interfacing with computers
  • Is used for typing but also for navigation and interaction
  • Is very powerful and useful if you know how to utilize it
  • Does not have to be scary!

Common Navigational Keys


Tab key

The Tab key moves keyboard focus to the next interactive element, such as a link, button, form field, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, pressing this key will not make a diet soda appear out of thin air.

Arrow Keys

Arrow keys

The Arrow keys are used to scroll the page, but also to move focus within form fields (such as changing the selection in a set of radio buttons or changing the selection of a drop-down list).



The Spacebar is used to activate links and buttons.


Enter or Return key

The Enter/Return key is used to activate links and buttons.


Escape key

The Escape key is used to close or dismiss modal dialogs (i.e., pop-ups).

Modifier Keys

“Modifier keys” are keys that when used in conjunction with another key(s), makes that other key(s) perform a different function. For example, holding Shift while pressing a letter key will type the uppercase of that letter. Common modifier keys are:

  • Shift
  • Ctrl (Control)
  • Alt
  • Fn (Function) – mostly found on laptops
  • Windows key (Windows only)
  • Command key (Apple only)

Helpful Tips & Tricks

Tips and Tricks for Quick Cutting, Copying, and Pasting

Instead of using the menu when the mouse is right-clicked to cut, copy, or paste, use these quick keyboard shortcuts. Highlight the text, then use:

  • Ctrl + X to CUT
  • Ctrl + C to COPY
  • Ctrl + V to PASTE

Tips and Tricks for Quick Web Browsing

When in a web browser, use these keyboard shortcuts to perform actions quicker than if you were using the mouse:

  • Ctrl + Tab: Switch to the next browser tab
  • Ctrl + Shift + Tab: Switch to the previous browser tab
  • Alt + Left Arrow: Go back one page
  • Alt + Right Arrow: Go forward one page
  • Ctrl + “plus key”: Zoom in (incrementally)
  • Ctrl + “minus key”: Zoom out (incrementally)

If you like these keyboard shortcuts, be sure to check out this list of 47 Keyboard Shortcuts for Web Browsers.