No clicking required or Navigating Through Text Files

February 29, 2012 ☼ Articleproductivity

Because of the more text-based nature of this new blog of mine I thought it would be handy to put together a list of useful keyboard shortcuts when working with text-files on an iPad (naturally they require the use of an external keyboard) and on the OSX. As one of the first official posts on here I thought it to be just appropriate.

It happens ever so often, that once I start working on a text of any kind, I find myself deleting a misspelled word and the typing it again, instead of simply fixing the mistake. Being generally more of a mouse-avoider [^-53] I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts and use Alfred whenever it is possible. It’s faster and more efficient, meaning, I can waste more time, on other, usually rather unproductive things; something that I am apparently very good at.

One of my main key-disturbances while writing or working with text, is the process of grabbing the mouse (on the desktop naturally) or navigating via the arrow-keys on the iPad (given the external keyboard). In both instances I find it too slow and distracting. It every now and then I forgot what to do by the time I had the cursor where I wanted it to be; my mind has already drifted somewhere else. At least for a moment then, I have lost my focus. While on the ordinary desktop the easiest solution of navigating through text is simply the mouse, on the iPad though especially many apps have been working on a solution to move the cursor without actually touching the text.

I believe that iAWriter was either the first, or at least one of the first application to solve this issue [^-53] by adding an extra line above the on screen keyboard to facilitate easier navigation through the text. After the release of the desktop version of the same application, I started to learn more about keyboard navigation, and it turned that there are quite a few, non-application specific, shortcuts available.

This brings me to the actual purpose of this little post: a collection of keyboard shortcuts to navigate through text. I am sure that many of you are already familiar with these, but I wrote them down more for my own reference with the purpose of helping me remember to them better myself. There’s to be honest no revelation here, at least so I think.

Many of these shortcuts I have discovered by pure accident and some I found in the documentation of Textastic a text editor for the iPad that I once played around with.

I have tested these shortcuts on different text editors on the iPad[^-53] and they are working equally well on OSX (I presume other OSs as well).

Some keyboard shortcuts are naturally more obvious than other’s and I am always happy to learn about more.

Keyboard Navigation with CMD and alt key



cmd + up arrow

Jump to beginning of document

cmd + down arrow

Jump to end of document

cmd + left arrow

Jump to beginning of line

cmd + right arrow

Jump to end of line

cmd + delete

Delete everything left of cursor

alt + left arrow

Jump to beginning of previous word

alt + right arrow

Jump to end of next word

alt + up arrow

Jump to beginning of paragraph

alt + down arrow

Jump to end of paragraph

alt + delete

Delete the word left of cursor

These shortcuts work both on the desktop and on iOS (with external keyboard. Adding Shift key to any of these selects the text.

And here are some more using the Control-key.

Keyboard Navigation with CTRL key



ctrl + k

delete from cursor to end of paragraph

ctrl + e

Jump to end of line

ctrl + a

Jump to beginning of current paragraph

ctrl + e

Jump to end of current paragraph

ctrl + p

Move cursor up at same position

ctrl + n

Move cursor down at same position

ctrl + d

Delete letter right of cursor

ctrl + f

Move cursor to the right

ctrl + h

Delete letter left of cursor

ctrl + l

Places content at current cursor position in the middle of window

ctrl + v

Move to end of document

ctrl + b

Move cursor to the left

Note: Not all of these work on iOS. I wish CTRL+L would, which has become a favourite of mine.

I have to admit that I am not using all of these myself. Especially the ones with the CTRL-Key, I find hard to remember. Which brings me to this:

Creating a cheat-sheet

Just when I was about to finish this post, I noticed a Tweet by Brett leading over to a post on Macdrifter giving a great example on how easily create a cheat-sheet with a bit of Applescript and Marked.

I have set up a cheat-sheet with aforementioned shortcuts in Alfred and it works like a charm. In fact I like the idea so much, that I see an influx of cheat sheets coming up.

If you are interested you might download the Markdown file of this cheat-sheet from here. I might update this one from time to time.

Aside the linked to posts here is one more external source:

Useful Mac OS X Text-Editing Shortcuts « Vincent Gable’s Blog

  1. I will not even start to talk about me using a laptop’s touchpad, for some reason using one makes me nervous. 

  2. This post is in fact written completely on the iPad in iAWriter. 

  3. It goes without saying that these require the use of an external keyboard. 

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