Although lately it seems that Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) has been suffering more knocks and security attacks than a jalopy at a destruction derby, it's still by far the most widely used Web browser. I plan to keep on using it—in part because it's so feature rich and in part because many Web sites work correctly only with IE. Because I use IE day in and day out, I've learned to maximize my productivity by using keyboard shortcuts. Here, I share 10 handy keyboard shortcuts that can also help you to be a more efficient and productive IE user.
Ctrl+F—One thing I commonly need to do when looking for information on the Web is to search a Web page for a particular string. The Ctrl+F keyboard combination quickly opens the Find dialog box, bypassing the need to navigate to and click the Edit menu's Find option.
Alt+D—If, like me, you do a lot of research on the Web, you probably jump around from site to site and frequently need to type a new URL. The Alt+D keyboard combination automatically moves your cursor to the Address bar and selects the current URL, so you can simply begin typing the new address.
Ctrl+Enter—After you press Alt+D and while you're in the Address bar, you can use another not-so-well-known keyboard shortcut to quickly enter most URLs with a minimum of keystrokes. Simply type the core URL in the address bar, then press Ctrl+Enter. For example, if you want to go to the Windows IT Pro site, type windowsitpro and press Ctrl+Enter. IE automatically adds the http://www. prefix and the .com suffix to the core URL to form the complete address: http://www.windowsitpro.com.
Backspace—Another handy time-saver is the Backspace key. Paging back through a series of Web pages is something I do virtually every time I use a Web browser. Pressing Backspace in IE quickly displays the preceding Web page. Pressing Shift+Backspace pages forward through the recently displayed Web pages.
Tab—Using the Tab key to advance to the next hyperlink on the current page is an often overlooked keyboard shortcut. You can also use Shift+Tab to move to the preceding hyperlink on the current page.
F4—Like the Backspace key, the F4 key can make you more productive when you need to return to a Web page that you've recently visited. Pressing F4 displays the URLs you've visited lately in IE's Address bar, enabling you to move through the list and select the URL of a recently visited site. The list appears in a drop-down box and contains just those URLs that you've typed in the Address bar. If there are more than a dozen or so entries, a scroll bar appears so you can scroll through them.
Ctrl+D—Maintaining a list of your favorite Web sites is a great way to keep track of useful sites and easily find them the next time you need them. IE's Favorites list lets you quickly access any site that you've added to the list. To make the most of this productivity tool, you can use the Ctrl+D keyboard combination to save the Web page you're currently viewing to your personal IE Favorites list, thus quickly and easily keeping your Favorites up-to-date.
Ctrl+P—To print the current page or active frame, you can press Ctrl+P. Similarly, most of the other common Ctrl-key combinations that Windows supports also work in IE. For example, Ctrl+A selects the contents of the current page, Ctrl+C copies the selected contents, Ctrl+V pastes the selected contents, and Ctrl+W exits the current window.
Esc—The Esc key is another useful and intuitive keyboard shortcut. Occasionally, when a site is slow to respond or you've clicked the wrong hyperlink, you might want to stop downloading the current page. Pressing Esc stops the current page from downloading just as if you'd clicked IE's Stop icon.
Alt+Home—When I'm browsing the Web, I often need to return to my Home page. Pressing the Alt+Home keyboard combination automatically returns my current browser session to the site I set up as my home page and has become second nature to me.