Keyboard shortcuts for translators

Translator’s Efficiency: Keyboard shortcuts

For Windows and macOS with a downloadable list

For any translator, a computer is a pipeline for making their living. The keyboard is our working tool. Studying the keyboard carefully is a key to workflow efficiency.

After two decades of consistent typing, I finally decided to keep my operations with the mouse to an absolute minimum. While I do not have any signs of the tunnel syndrome currently, I feel I should care better about my wrists.

My aim was to make close friends with my keyboard—a totally regular device—and learn key shortcuts for most of the commands I use.

Below, you’ll find a list of hotkeys and keyboard combinations worth learning complemented with a downloadable table for reference and editing. Obviously, for each of us the list will differ depending on favourite devices, operational systems, programmes, and combinations you know already. Key combinations for Windows (Windows 7 to be exact) are followed by Mac variants in brackets.

The following links will provide you with full lists of keyword combinations for Windows 7, Windows 10 and macOS. Keep studying them and choose new combinations to master regularly. Attach small sticky notes to the outlines of your computer’s screen with 3 or 4 shortcuts you want to master next. Then, leave it all to your fingers.

1. Keyboard

Start with studying ALL the keys including the <Windows> key, the <Menu> context key (to the left of the right <Ctrl>, with a cursor and window icon) and the right <Alt> key (Alr Gr).

(On keyboards made for Macs, you generally use the <Option> key instead of <Alt> and <Command> instead of the Windows logo key.)

With the help of these keys, you can:

Win: open the Start menu
Win + D (Command-F3): Go to Desktop
Win + Е (Command-F): File Explorer or Finder
Win + L (Command-Option-Power): Block the workstation
Win + M (Command-Option-H-M): Minimize all windows
Win + R: Run (command line)
Win + F (Command-F): Search
Win + T: Choose the first element in the Task Panel (press it one more time to move to the next item)
Win + Right/Left arrow: Split the screen

Here you’ll find full lists of keyword combinations for Windows 7, Windows 10 and Mac. Keep choosing new combinations to master.

Pay attention to the command line in Windows. Here are some programs and tools you can quickly lauch with the help of the command line (<Win + R>):

calc: Run Calculator
control: Run Control Panel
excel: Run MS Excel
mspaint: Run Microsoft Paint
notepad: Run Notepad
taskmgr: Run Task Manager
shutdown/s: Turn off the computer in 30 seconds
shutdown/h: Hibernate the computer
shutdown/r: Restart the computer
winword: Run MS Word
\: Open the Home folder

You won’t need to type a command every time as the system will memorize it and autosuggest options.

Tip: When you enter an URL into the command line, the system opens it after launching the browser.

1. Windows / Mac programs and tools

You don’t need to ignore your mouse. Try to combine it with the keyboard for generous time savings.

Standard system combinations for Windows and Mac:

Ctrl + A (Command-A): Select all items
Сtrl + С (Command-C): Copy the selected item
Сtrl + F (Command-F): Search
Ctrl + N: New document
Ctrl + O (Command-O): File selection window
Ctrl + P (Command-P): Print
Ctrl + S (Command-S): Save the document
Сtrl + V (Command-V): Paste the selected item
Ctrl + W (Command-W): Close the document
Сtrl + Х (Command-X): Cut the selected item
Сtrl + Z: Undo an action

More useful key combinations:

WINDOWS

Shift: Block CD-ROM autorun (press after inserting the CD)
Shift+F10: Show the content menu for the selected item
Alt+PrtSc: Make a screenshot of an active window
Alt+F4: Close the active item (or exit the active program)
Ctrl+F4: Close the active document

MAC

Command-Tab: Switch to the next most recently used app among your open apps
Shift-Command-N: Create a new folder in the Finder
Shift-Command-4: Make a screen shot of an active window
Command-Comma (,): Open preferences for the front app

Keyword combinations for the Windows Task Panel:

Shift + click on the icon in the task panel: Open a new application window
Shift + right click: Show the application menu
Ctrl + click on the group of icons: Unfold all their windows

Tip: If after opening the Explorer you press a letter key, the system highlights the file (or the folder) with the name starting with that letter.

2. Text Editors

These application are among of the basic tools for translators. By continuing to study hotkeys and key combinations for handling text documents we increase our efficiency.

The <F8> in Windows is one handy key:

  • pressed twice, it selects the word around (or touching) the cursor
  • pressed three times it selects the whole sentence
  • pressed four times it selects the whole paragraph
  • pressed five times, it selects the whole document.

Position the cursor where you wish to begin, press <F8> and then use the cursors to extend the selection. To escape from selecting selecting mode, press the <Esc> key.

Be sure to learn key combinations for m- and n-dashes, soft hyphen, nonbreaking hyphen and nonbreaking space.

Additional key combinations for moving around the text:

Shift + F5: Move to the last change
Ctrl + Alt + Z: Switch between the last four edits
Ctrl + Left/Right arrow (Option-Left/Right arrow): Move by the words
Ctrl + Up/Down arrow: Move by paragraphs or vertical scroll
Ctrl + Page Up/Page Down (Fn-Up/Down arrow): Scroll up or down one page
Home / End (Command-Left/Right arrow): Go to the start or the end of a line
The same with the Shift key pressed for Windows and Mac: Text selection

And a number of useful combinations:

Shift + F3: Change the case of letters (the first letter, then the word)
Ctrl + Alt + I (Option-Command-P): Preview window / Page setup
Ctrl + Alt + period: Ellipsis
Ctrl + F12 (Option-Command-I): Select the document to open
Ctrl + left mouse key: Select the sentence
F7 (Shift-Command-Colon): Spellcheck and grammar check
Ctrl + F1 (Option-Command-T): Hide the toolbar (after you learn everything)

Make and print a table with special symbols to have them at hand. For Windows, you can include:
Copyright: Alt + Ctrl + C
Registered trade mark: Alt + Ctrl + R
Trade mark: Alt + Ctrl + T

Tip: To find the key combinations you need, open the list of special symbols in Windows Word. Selecting the symbol you need and look at the key combination in the lower right part of the window.

3. Browsers

Another important application type for translators, with their own key combinations and ‘secrets’.

Find and study key combinations for your preferred browser. Use <Ctrl + Tab> to switch between the open tabs. To move to a tab you need, use <Ctrl+window number> (Command-1 to Command-9 for Macs).

Tip. The address bar is also the search window. Type in the searched term and press <Enter>: you’ll see the results of your default search engine. To move the cursor to the address bar, use <Ctrl + L> (Command-L).

Windows + Chrome

Browser tabs:
Ctrl + N: New window
Ctrl + T: New tab
Ctrl + W: Close current tab
Ctrl + Shift + T: Reopen the last tab or window you closed
Browser pages:
Home: To the top of the page
End: To the bottom of the page
Ctrl + N: Bookmark the current page
Ctrl + H: History
Ctrl + J: Downloads

Mac + Safari

Browser tabs
Command-T: Open new tab
Command-W: Close Tab
Shift-Command-\: Show all tabs
Shift-Command-T: Reopen the last tab or window you closed
Command – Shift – ]/[: Navigate between multiple tabs
Browser pages
Command-Up: To the top of the page
Command-Down: To the bottom of the page
Control-Command-1: Show or hide the Bookmarks sidebar
Command-Shift-I: Open new message with the URL of a page
Command-Y: Open/close the History window

4. CAT Tools

They were made for efficiency but we can always increase it a bit further. Some key combinations are the same as with operating systems. Others are application unique.

MEMOQ

Tab: Switch between the Source and the Target
F2: Edit the Source
F7: Check spelling
Ctrl + Shift + A: Select all segments
Ctrl + K: Concordance
Ctrl + P: Look up terms
Ctrl + T: Split segment

An extensive list of key combinations for memoQ.

Additional shortcuts and customising shortcuts for memoQ.

TRADOS

F3: Concordance
F4: Exit
F12: Save as
Ctrl + K: Concordance
Alt + F2: Edit the Source
Alt + Ins: Populate from the Source
Alt + Del: Clear Target

An extensive list of key combinations for Trados.

Additional key combinations and customising shortcuts for Trados.

5. AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source scripting language for Windows that allows users to easily create small to complex scripts for all kinds of tasks.

AutoHotkey can automate any desktop task:

  • Replace text (turning :*:kr:: into Kind regards)
  • Run programmes
  • Open files
  • Eeasily define hotkeys for the mouse and the keyboard

In Windows 7, you can use it to switch between the working languages with the help of <Win + space> combination.

  1. Download the application: http://www.autohotkey.com.
  2. Install AutoHotkey.
  3. Right-click on your desktop.
  4. Find New in the menu.
  5. Click AutoHotkey Script inside the New menu.
  6. Give the script a new name. It must end with a .ahk extension. For example: MyScript.ahk
  7. Find the newly created file on your desktop and right-click it.
  8. Click Edit Script.
  9. A window should have popped up, probably Notepad.
  10. Add #Space::PostMessage, 0x50, 2, 0,, A ; 0x50 is WM_INPUTLANGCHANGEREQUEST
  11. Run AutoHotkey.

* * *

I’ve created an editable Word file with main key combinations for Windows mentioned above: follow the link to get main hotkeys for translators. Feel free to download it and use for learning hotkeys. You can replace the hotkeys you know well with some new combinations to master.

Good luck in increasing your efficiency!