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February 14, 2007

Learning Google's Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a good way to save time. Instead of trying to find a menu, a button, or an option, you just type a combination of keys. The only problem is that you have the remember the shortcuts.

One way to do that is to print the shortcuts and start exercising. Another way is to understand their meaning and use them naturally.

Here's a list of shortcuts from different Google web applications and how to learn them. The list is short and contains only the most important keyboard shortcuts.

Navigation:
  • J, K - these two shortcuts are for navigating to the previous / next item in a list. They're used in Gmail and Google Reader. In Gmail they have two purposes:
    * if you look at a list of messages (for example, your inbox), you can move the pointer of the current message. Then just press enter to read it.
    * if you read a message, use J/K to go to the previous/next message from the corresponding view.

  • P, N - these two shortcuts are also used to go to the previous / next item. They're used in Gmail (to navigate between the messages of a conversation), Google Reader (the same as J, K in expanded view; in the list view, you won't see the content of the item unless you press enter), Google Calendar (replaces the two arrows from the top of the window: view the previous/next date range).

  • Arrows have meaning. Use them in Google Maps to pan the map. Use them in Google Video to move back or forward or to change the volume (up/down).

Moving to a section:
  • G, followed by a letter is a way to say "Go to...". In Gmail and Google Reader, you'll be able to different sections by typing G and the first letter of that section's name. Example: GI (inbox), GD (drafts), GC (contacts), GA (all items), GS (starred items), GT (go to a tag in Google Reader), GU (go to a feed in Google Reader).

Actions for an item:
  • The obvious:
    * C is for composing a message (in Gmail) or creating an event (in Google Calendar).
    * F is for forward.
    * R is for reply (and A for "reply to all").
    * S is for star. In Gmail and Google Reader, you can star the current item.
    * T is for tag. You can tag posts in Google Reader.
    * V is for view. Use it in Google Reader to go to the original website that delivered the feed.

Search
  • In most Google web apps, you can go to the search box by typing /. This shortcut also works in Firefox and Opera to perform inline search for almost any other page.

I compiled the complete list of shortcuts for Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Video and Google Maps in a small notebook. Note that Gmail's keyboard shortcuts are disabled by default, so you'll have to go to Settings/General/Keyboard shortcuts to enable them.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.