Wrist-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Hand on keyboard by Branko Collin

by C.K. MacLeod

Using keyboard shortcuts can help you to ease repetitive strain injury (RSI) in the fingers and wrist caused by overusing a mouse or touchpad. And once these shortcuts become second-nature, they can help you to write more efficiently as well.

The keyboard shortcuts listed below are not software-specific or operating system-specific—they don't just work for Windows users, or Word users, for example. They should work on most computing devices, even the old-school intelligent keyboards that some authors, like Bryan Cohen, are experimenting with to help them focus on writing without the distractions of social media and the Internet.

Print this downloadable file and stick it next to your computer for easy reference. Do you use a Mac? Check out this post by Adrienne Montgomerie for a handful of Mac keyboard shortcuts.

Tip: When using keyboard shortcuts, be sure to keep your wrists straight, and allow your hands to float over the keys.

Hide Your Mouse

Old habits die hard. When I began to feel strain in my wrist, I was surprised to discover how often I reached for my mouse without really thinking about it. I was also shocked to discover that my hand rested rather tensely on my mouse when I wasn't typing.

If your mousing habits are entrenched like mine are, you may need to unplug or turn off your mouse for a few minutes each day, so you can learn to rely a bit more on keyboard shortcuts. If you use a touchpad, you can put a sticky note overtop to temporarily disable it.

You don't have to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts listed in this post—learn the ones you like. If a few of them become habit, you'll reduce your mouse use and have a better chance of easing some of the strain.

Tip: if you learn the Jump to shortcuts first, the rest of the shortcuts are easier to learn. The keys you'll use the most in these combinations are the Ctrl key and the arrow keys.The Jump to shortcut keys are useful for scrolling through online articles, too!

Image by  Branko Collin

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