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The 40 most important Google Apps keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can save you time and reduce your dependence on the mouse. To help with that goal, Kevin Purdy has compiled a list of the 40 most important Google Apps keyboard shortcuts.

Google wants you to spend your computer time connected to the web, because, hey - that's where quite a few of its ads can be found. To make the web feel more like your disk-less personal computer, the search giant installed shortcuts in most of its applications, like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Google+. But the list of shortcuts is huge, so we pared them down to the 40 most important ones. These are the Google Apps shortcuts you should start getting comfortable with because they can really save you time.

You'll still need a mouse to use Google's web-apps in full, but using keyboard shortcuts allows you to use the mouse less. That's particularly handy when you're typing out emails in Gmail or flowing through text in Docs. Plus, when you're mercilessly cleaning out your inbox, banging the "y" key to archive is remarkably therapeutic.

When you're ready to move on to mastering all of Google's shortcuts, hold shift and press the "/" key (basically, enter a question mark when outside a text field) in Gmail or Calendar to see the full list of keyboard shortcuts. For Docs, there is this official list, and for the brand-new Google+, try Simon Laustsen's Cheat Sheets.

In the meantime, the tables on this page show you the 40 most important keyboard shortcuts. The tables are also available in the PDF format so you can print out your own cheat sheet.

Gmail

Shortcut

Description

Explanation

Gmail: From the inbox
j/k Next/previous conversation thread Note the tiny black cursor that travels up and down the left rail of the messages. This shortcut is the most common in Google's Apps
o or Enter Open conversation where the pointer is
x Select conversation Scroll through messages with j/k, then tap "x" to mark messages for later action
n/p Next/previous message in a thread For when you're inside a message, having pressed "o" to enter.
c Compose new message
/ Jump to search box If it doesn't work, try tapping Tab once or twice to re-focus on Gmail itself
q Jump to contact list Then start typing the name of a contact. Hit the right arrow to get more options: Chat, compose new message, etc.
g+i (g, then quickly i) Heads back to the inbox from wherever you are. Many more g+ (something) shortcuts exist--hit "?" from the main Gmail screen to see them.
g+k Heads to Gmail's Tasks windows
g+l Jumps to a specific message label (start typing the label name)
g+p Make a phone call with Google Voice You'll need to install a plugin for Google video chat if you haven't already, and likely some USB headphones for a good call.
*+a Select all conversations on the screen Like the "g" key, the asterisk selection key can select many things. Hit "?" for the full list.
Viewing a message
u Head back to the list from a message. The list could be your inbox, a search query, a label, etc.
y/e Archive message Both while reading the message and from the list (by selecting messages with j/k and x)
Shift+i/u Mark as read/unread Both from message and inbox views
r Reply to message But not "Reply All"
a Reply-all to a message Use caution, of course
f Forward a message
"+ key" or - Mark message as important or unimportant For fine-tuning Priority Inbox. Works in message or inbox view

Google Calendar

Shortcut

Description

Explanation

c Create event Provides the full, multi-box input for creating an event
q Quick add Opens the short box for quick, semantic events: "1pm Friday Lunch with Jim at Shake Shack."
/ Focus search box Find your events, rather than hunt them down
1,2,3,4,5 Cycle through Day, Week, Month, Custom, and Agenda views "Custom" is a period of days you create in Settings (5 days, for example). d,w,x,m,a keys do the same thing.
j/k or n/p Move through periods, based on calendar view: hours, days, etc.

Google Docs

Shortcut

Description

Explanation

Standard Word text shortcuts They all work Ctrl+B for bold, Ctrl+i for italics, Ctrl+C/X/V for copy/cut/paste
Shift+Alt+f Move focus to menu bar The only way to get at all the stuff in the menus up top that lack shortcuts: File, Edit, View, etc.
Ctrl+Alt+1-5 Use header style Header 1, Header 2, etc.
Ctrl+Shift+7 Apply numbered list style to selection Need to select text without a mouse? Hold down shift while moving through text.
Ctrl+Shift+8 Apply bullet (non-numbered) list style to selection
Ctrl+Shift+l, e, r Change alignment to Left, Center (E), or Right
Clear formatting Ctrl+\ Particularly handy when dealing with text pasted from elsewhere
Ctrl+k Insert link Select text, hit Ctrl+K, then enter the URL you want the text to link to
Shift+right-click Show your browser's right-click settings Google Docs overrides your browser's right-click options with its own. This brings up the back, reload, save options
Ctrl+Shift+f Compact controls Get a semi-full-screen view. Press F11 in most browsers (or Shift-Command-F on Macs) for a true full screen.

Google +

Shortcut

Description

Explanation

Space / Shift+Space Scroll down or up Stream Whole pages at a time
j/k Move down or up through individual posts
Enter Comment on post
Shift+Enter Create new line in comment As opposed to using plain old Enter, which sends/finishes a comment. Don't worry if you slip up--hit "Edit" in lower right.
q Jump to the chat selection window As with Gmail, press right to choose options: Chat, show in chat window, etc.

Also read:

About

Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.

8 comments
sjscarlet
sjscarlet

very useful for me. now i can use hotkey for android tablet black friday. good job! xbox 360 black friday

Cmd_Line_Dino
Cmd_Line_Dino

I created gg to do the same as # = shift-3 = move conversation to Trash and gh to do the same as shift-u = mark as unread My gg and gh are easier to type with one finger when lazily going thru e-mails from my recliner. I program Perl and good Perl programmers view lazy as a virtue. I love shortcuts. I must know several hundred. At least 50 just for my programming editor. He travels fastest who travels alone ... same for shortcuts over mousing.

amendez52
amendez52

dcdrum: Thanks! I had to enable the keyboard shortcuts.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

now we need to learn 40 more Google shortcuts? and then wait for the list to grow and change? That's a major "minus" for Google, IMHO.

amendez52
amendez52

I can't seem to make, or bring the phone to call with Google Voice... Is the sequence g, then +, then p (all upper case, or lower case?); or is it g+p all at once? Anyway, I attempted both a few times. No results...

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you taking advantage of the keyboard shortcuts available in Google Apps?

mauronr72
mauronr72

You don't need to. You can keep using your mouse if you want to. This is just another way to activate some of the functions. I personally sometimes use the keyboard shortcuts (I don't use them all) and sometimes the mouse, whatever suits better at the moment.

dcrum
dcrum

Make sure keyboard shortcuts are enabled (mine were disabled). Hold down the shift key and press the "/" key to open the list of keyboard shortcuts. At the top left of the list is a link for enabling or disabling shortcuts. To open Google Voice, press and release the "g" key and then press and release the "p" key. This is what worked for me :)