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The best Google keyboard shortcuts for Gmail and other apps

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Shortcuts are pure geek gold. And if there’s one company that’s full of efficiency-appreciating egg cups, it’s Google.

So it’s no surprise that Google’s browser-based apps are absolutely packed with ways to perform tasks by pressing one or two keys. And behind the most widely known keystrokes lies a web of easily overlooked treasures that will save you mountains of time.

From Gmail to Calendar and Photos to YouTube, here are the 33 best Google keyboard shortcuts you probably aren’t using.

(Note that these shortcuts should work on any computer, no matter what browser or operating system you have. If you’re on a Mac, just replace the key wherever you see Ctrl named.)

gmail

Gmail is a bit unusual in that the keyboard shortcuts are only available after you activate the option in the service’s settings. Click the gear-shaped icon in the top right corner of the site, click “See all settings” and scroll down until you see “Hotkeys”. Make sure the “Keyboard Shortcuts On” option is selected, then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the Save Changes button.

1. We’ll start with one of the most useful keyboard shortcuts you’ll ever come across: every time you make an action-related email error in Gmail: send a message before it’s done, accidentally archive or delete something, move an email to an inbox tab where it doesn’t belong, or whatever –Ctrl-z or just z by itself will undo your most recent action. Oof.

2. Maybe you know c opens the Gmail compose tool for a new email. shift-c will open that same tool in a self-contained browser window on top of your inbox, allowing you to work on writing your email while giving yourself an unobstructed view.

3. In a similar way, shift-r will start a reply in a new window when you view an email while shift-a will put a reply-all in that same out-of-thread element.

4. Whenever you are viewing a series of multiple messages, tap the : key causes the conversation to expand so that you see each individual message in its complete, unhidden form. The record ; key will collapse the thread again so you only see one email at a time.

5. The Gmail Shortcut That Saves Me More Time Than Maybe Another? While composing an email on the Gmail website, Ctrl-Enter will send it to you in no time.

google calendar

6. Just like in Gmail, Ctrl-z or z by itself will always undo your last action, as long as you do it relatively soon after making the mistake.

7. The easy to remember g The hotkey will take you straight to a specific DeLorean date, faster than you can say “1.21 gigawatts of power.”

A quick key press, and bam! You can make your way to any date you want.

8. Calendar’s side panel is a surprisingly convenient way to interact with other Google services while looking at your calendar and the often-overlooked Alt-Ctrl-. the hotkey will highlight it for you so you can use your arrow keys and Enter to open any element you need.

Google Docs

9. Having trouble remembering what a word means while editing a document? Save yourself the trouble of opening a new tab and searching and press instead Ctrl-Shift-y while your cursor is on that word. Documents give you an instant definition in the side panel of the editing screen.

10. Here’s one I didn’t know existed until recently: Ctrl-Alt-c copies the formatting of the text your cursor is on, while Ctrl-Alt-v will paste the same formatting to any other text in your document. Handy, isn’t it?

11. To my fellow writers and word geeks, Ctrl-Shift-c is the fastest way to take a look at your current word count, as well as character count, with and without spaces, when you get the itch to check.

Google Sheets

12. Do you want to copy the contents of a cell across a row or in a column? Just highlight the cells where you want your data and then press Ctrl-Enter to complete the entire range.

13. Keep this in mind when editing in Sheets: Ctrl-; will immediately insert the current date. Ctrl-Shift-; gives you the current time. And Ctrl-Alt-Shift-; will insert current date and time in your active cell.

14. Spreadsheets has more options and features than any sane person could ever keep up with. The service is great Alt-/ The shortcut lets you search through all of Sheets’ menus to find the command you need – no hunting, digging, or foraging required.

Google Drive

15. The relationship between Drive and Docs, Sheets, and Slides can be confusing, but remember: you can create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations anywhere in Drive using the keyboard shortcuts shift-t, shift-sand shift-prespectively.

16. Have a file you want to upload somewhere? shift-u will open your system file picker and then dump anything you select in the Drive folder onto your screen.

17. Just like in Gmail and Calendar, Ctrl-z become your BFF in Drive for undoing an action before it’s too late.

Google Meet

18. If you remember a Meet hotkey, make it this one: Ctrl-d will mute or unmute your microphone. Use it, and use it often. Your colleagues will thank you.

19. Next time you’re in the middle of a meeting and need a moment, press Ctrl-e on your keyboard. That will disable your computer’s camera and bring down your video feed. They will come back if you repeat the same command.

20. When your meeting expands to include more people than you can possibly see, Ctrl-Alt-j will increase Meet’s maximum tile view and allow you to fit more of your roommates on your desk onto your screen. Ctrl-Alt-k will bring it back in the opposite direction.

21. The worst thing about online meetings is staring at yourself. Get your goofy gourd out of the picture with Meet’s helpful Ctrl-Alt-m shortcut, which minimizes or expands your video when the urge arises.

Google Keep

22. Is it on your list to make more checklists? to beat l on the Keep website, you will save invaluable steps by starting a new note and then automatically inserting a checklist for you.

23. If you are in an existing note and you want to convert the in a list, Ctrl-Shift-8 is the command to recall. That will enable or disable the checkboxes in any Keep note at any time.

24. Keep can display your stuff in a simple list as well as a multi-column grid structure. Ctrl-G lets you switch between those two views whenever your note-loving heart desires.

Google Photos

25. If you’ve fully opened a photo on the Google Photos website, shift-r each time you press it, it rotates 90 degrees clockwise.

26. shift-d is the fastest way to download the image you are viewing to your local device.

27. Instantly make any image look better by pressing . to push e and then a while it’s open. That will activate Photos’ editing tool and then apply the service’s automatic enhancement magic.

Using the auto-enhance action in Google Photos is the fastest way to make any image look better, and a keyboard shortcut is the fastest way to bring it up.

YouTube

28. Stop an actively playing video in a flash by pressing . to push k to toggle between play and pause.

29. If mute is more your MO, use the hotkey m will silence any video you have going on and turn the audio back on the next time you tap it.

30. The fastest way to fast forward while a video is playing on your screen is handy from YouTube l shortcut. Each time you use it, you zoom forward 10 seconds.

31. When rewinding is your wish, y will do the same and bring you 10 seconds back into your currently playing clip.

32. The Number Keys 0 by means of 9 will help you jump to specific points in any video you are watching, corresponding to the percentage value of the song, i.e. to the 0% sign with 0, the 20% sign with 2, and so on.

33. And last but not least, on . to press f toggles you on and off YouTube’s full-screen display settings when inspiration strikes.


Ready for more practical knowledge? look at my Android Intelligence Newsletter to get three new Googley tricks every Friday and three bonus tips as soon as you sign up.

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