Digital Declutter: Browsers

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Digital Declutter Part 3: Browsers

Organize Your Browser

Two years ago I was sitting on a flight next to a businessman. We said our polite hellos, ignored the standard safety briefing, and settled in for takeoff. As the plane reached cruising altitude, the guy pulled out his laptop, flipped it open to a browser, and began to type in his password with a slow chicken peck. One. Index. Finger. At. A. Time. 

He then proceeded to open a browser window to access the internet. It took him five minutes to enter his information in the form fields (I know because I was already more than 5 minutes into my in-flight movie). Then he started working. Well, I say working. He was doing things on the internet, but every action took him an age: navigating to his email, finding an attachment, switching between tabs… It reminded me of the sloth scene from Zootopia, except this wasn’t funny. It was just painfully, laboriously, aggravatingly slow. 

Of course I kept my mouth shut and watched my movie, but more than once I contemplated sharing some efficiency tips with him so he could browse more quickly. Instead, I’m going to share those tips here. But if anyone knows the guy from seat 14B (or someone like him), please forward this advice. 

Step 1: Set Up Home Pages

Step 2: Organize Your Browser

The Step 3: Learn Keyboarding

Step 4: Navigate Faster with Hotkeys

Browser Step 1 Set Up Home Pages

Start by setting up your home pages. Think about what tabs you use often, especially when you start a new web browser, and designate those to open automatically. I would recommend your email as one of them. I would recommend your go-to news source as another. There are also personalized start pages that allow you to curate and aggregate lots of things you frequently want to see. I would advise you to think very carefully before putting a distraction (a social media site, a game, etc.) as one; you want to set yourself up for good online habits, and having a distracting home page isn’t ideal. Here are instructions for setting the home pages for your browser of choice.

Step 2 for Browsers Organize Your Browser

Next, organize your browser so you can navigate efficiently. Get LastPass to manage your passwords on all the sites you visit. This will save you valuable time and help you avoid the stress of having to remember online passwords. 

After you set up LastPass, create an in-browser folder structure for your most visited websites. This will differ based on how you use the internet, but the top folders that I’ve created are:

  • News
  • Work
  • Entertainment
  • Explore
  • [ Hobby 1 ] 
  • [ Hobby 2 ]
  • And a direct link to my email 

When I click on any of those top-level folders, a dropdown menu of websites I’ve favorited appears for easy browsing. Here is a quick guide on how to favorite websites in your browser. Just like the folders you create on your computer, you can create nested folders in your browser to stay organized.

Browsing Step 3 Learn Keyboarding

Learn keyboarding. That guy’s chicken peck was not just painful for me to watch; it made him far less productive, and in a world that’s gone digital, keyboarding is an essential skill. Yes, voice-to-text speech recognition is getting better by the year, but for the time being we all still should know how to type. It only takes an average of two weeks to learn this life skill, and there are plenty of free online keyboarding lessons to help you get proficient.

Step 4 of Browser Setup

Navigate Faster with Hotkeys


Speaking of keys, learn basic hotkeys. If only my dude on the airplane would have known some basic hotkey shortcuts, he would have been so much faster! Hotkeys are efficiency hacks that you should learn yesterday; they make maneuvering around the internet so much quicker. You probably know many of them already, like tabbing between form fields and copy/pasting text. But there are many more that you should work into your muscle memory. Here’s a list of 50 browser-agnostic hotkeys.

Browser Shortcuts

F5 Refresh
Ctrl+ F5 Refresh and reset cache
Alt + Left Arrow Back
Alt + Right Arrow Forward
Escape Stop
F6 (Alt + D) Select address bar
F11 Fullscreen mode
Home Scroll to top of page
End Scroll to bottom of page
Spacebar Scroll down
Shift + Spacebar Scroll up
Page Down / Up Scroll down / up
Ctrl + C Copy selected text
Ctrl + X Cut (copy and delete) text
Ctrl + V Paste copied text
Ctrl + D Bookmark current page
F1 Open a help page
F3 Perform a text search
Shift + F3 Find previous text search
Ctrl + F Perform a text search
Ctrl + G Find next text result
Ctrl + Shift + G Find previous text result
Ctrl + H Open browsing history
Ctrl + J Open downloads folder
Ctrl + O Open a local file in browser
Ctrl + S Download and save page
Ctrl + P Print current page
Ctrl + Shift + Del Opens clear browser history
Alt + Enter Open search in a new tab
Ctrl + Enter Open search term as a website
F12 Open developer tools
Ctrl + U View source
Alt + F Makes the menu bar appear
Ctrl + N Opens a new window
Ctrl + Tab Cycle forward to the next tab
Ctrl + Shift + Tab Cycle backward to previous tab
Ctrl + F4 Closes the current tab
Ctrl + T Opens a new tab
Ctrl + Shift + T Opens a recently closed tab
Alt + F4 Close the entire window
Ctrl + # Key (1-8) Changes view to tab number
Ctrl + 9 Changes view to last tab
Ctrl + Mousewheel Zoom in or out
Ctrl + 0 Reset to 100% (default) zoom
Mousewheel Press Closes tabs if clicked on tab
Ctrl + Left Click Open link in a new tab
Shift + Left Click Open link in a new window
Shift + Left Click Open link in a new window