The Five Browser Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Nobody has time to memorize a complete list of web browser keyboard shortcuts, and really, why should they? I only know a handful of web browser keyboard shortcuts, myself, and I probably use the same five shortcuts a hundred times a day. But not everyone knows about these five essential browser keyboard shortcuts. Let's fix that.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Of course, these browser shortcuts may or may not apply to browsers other than Internet Explorer.

For example, I use Opera. Middle-click works identically. The others don’t.

I also find Alt-Enter to be a bad keyboard shortcut, as Alt-Enter already has a standard meaning: Switch to fullscreen mode.

these browser shortcuts may or may not apply to browsers other than Internet Explorer.

I only tested with Firefox and IE; they’re identical in these two. I’d argue the burden of compatibility-- particularly for such essential shortcuts-- falls on all those other browsers.

For Firefox, you could use Ctrl + L and Ctrl + K respectively instead of Alt + D and Ctrl + E. Also, Ctrl + Up/Down arrow could be used in browser search box to switch between different search engines.

If you have only two mouse buttons, crtl+left click opens a new tab. So it makes more sense to crtl+enter open a new tab than the alt + enter

I can’t live without CTRL+w (close tab) and CTRL+Tab/CTRL+Shift+Tab to switch tabs

just fyi, in case you end up using it, shorcuts for epiphany:
ctrl-l: location bar
ctrl-enter on location bar: open in new tab
ctrl-pageup/pagedown: change tab

and you search in the location bar

I don’t like clutter, so the search box went bye-bye. It’s no big deal because a general search (like is no more special to me than images or encyclopedia. Instead, I set up single-letter shortcuts in Firefox bookmarks. Then, I can type:

CTRL-T i catenter

to get a google image search of cats in a new tab. Or:

CTRL-L g nisenter

to get a regular google search in the same tab. And so on. The speed of this approach, compared to mousing, is impressive.

I would think that CTRL-T belongs on the list (or maybe the MSIE equivalent).

I prefer Opera’s Mouse Gestures.

CTRL-Enter in the address bar to automatically convert what is typed to include “http://www.” and “.com” around said word.

CRTL-left click to force links to open in new tabs. I’d never get through my feeds without this one!

I read your blog from Live Mail feeds. It took me a while to realize that the reason the middle mouse button did not open a new window for me was because I was not in a browser. Clicking the links from Live Mail already opens in a new tab in the browser.

I did not know the other shortcuts - Thanks.


If you want to close taskbar windows with a middle click, you should install Taskbar Shuffle. =)

It also lets you reorganize your taskbar items.

Hey Now Jeff,
This is one of my favorite posts I’ve read. A few other hotkeys I commonly use:
F5 refresh
Escape Key as 'Stop’
Alt + Left arrow as back
F6 (same as alt + but one key) to pass control to the address bar.
F11 as full screen (stream lined)
Cntl Q - Quick view of all tabs
I think in the future more people will use more more mouse gestures (hot clicks) too as it may be in IE8 by default not need an addin like IE7Pro similar to the middle mouse click. I remember your post you asked ‘And how do you deal with the dissonance between Alt+Tab (switch apps) and Ctrl+Tab (switch tabs within an app)?’ I think everyone should use alt+tab after a little while of using Ctrl+Tab people learn the difference. I really like this post feel it is so true. The top couple of hotkeys make us more efficent.
Coding Horror Fan,

If you want to close taskbar windows with a middle click, you should install Taskbar Shuffle. =)

Thanks for the tip! I love your site, by the way. is full of much better tips than the ones in this post!

I would think that CTRL-T belongs on the list (or maybe the MSIE equivalent).

Interesting; that’s the same thing I do, but in a different order. Pressing Ctrl+T opens the tab and places the focus on the address bar automatically. I do think most users will want to make use of the built in search box, though.

If you are using Internet Exploder you forgot the most useful shortcut… ALT + F4…
Can’t believe you are using Internet Exploder… Firefox is where it’s at… and the mouse gestures.

Quick key for anything…Launchy. It’s the bayste thing to hit Windows since notepad. Alt+space and ‘f’.

For the record, the ALT+D and ALT+E shortcuts don’t work in Ffx under Kubuntu. CTRL+L and CTRL+K work fine, though.

Also, no combination of ALT, CTRL, SHIFT, and [Enter] opened an address bar URL in a new tab under Kubuntu. Which sucks, because I would use that a lot if it worked.

Ummm, why are you using Internet Explorer?

For Safari on Mac (not sure on Windows), the respective shortcuts are:

  1. Same, although Command-Command “saf” Enter works just fine for the one time of the day Safari isn’t already open.
  2. Command-L sets focus on the Location (aka “Address”) field.
  3. Command-L, Tab sets focus on the Search field (I don’t think there is a direct shortcut)
  4. Command-Enter opens the entered / edited location in a new tab
  5. Command-click and middle-click (if set to mouse button 3) both open the link in a new tab.

I’d also add Command-} and Command-{ (that’s the curly bracket, so you need Shift in there too) go from tab to tab in the current window, and Command-` shoves the current window to the back of the z-order stack and sets focus to the next one down.

IMHO, Control-Enter would make more sense for the “open in new tab” shortcut, but IE long ago used that shortcut for the stupid “wrap in www and .com” function as though that’s remotely useful (especially as IE does that for you automatically when you hit enter anyway).

Speaking of browsers and middle click closing tasks and tabs, I was pleased to see the same support in QTTabBar (smooth integration of tab support for Windows Explorer). I think that and Taskbar Shuffle as mentioned pretty much cover the ground. :wink: