KB1148 - Keyboard Shortcuts: Cut, Copy Paste, Undo (and more)

What are Keyboard Shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts are little key combinations that are faster to use than your mouse. Over time, you might want to find a faster way to do very common tasks, particularly if you do a lot of text editing. (Once you've gone "right-click, select, cut" to cut out some text a few times, using a keyboard shortcut will seem a lot faster and more convenient.)
Just hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key, and while holding, tap the letter or symbol, (e.g. [Ctrl] [P] for Print).
On the Mac, many of these can be used with the flower-shaped "Cmd" key instead of Ctrl.

Most computer users have learned to use the mouse and on-screen menu options first, but computers have been around for much longer than that, predating mouse-and-window operating systems by decades. The keyboard shortcuts described here are common to most software applications and system operations. In other words, you'll likely find that using Ctrl-X to cut selected text out of a paragraph will work whether you are using Notepad and Microsoft Word, or if you're just changing the name of a file on your Desktop. The most common keyboard shortcuts are available in your computer's operating system, as well as within practically all software applications that you run - including web browsers and web applications like Moodle.

Common Shortcuts

First, we'll look at a few of the most common ones on the Windows and Mac platforms: Cut, Copy, Paste, and Undo

Cut (X)

On PC, it's Ctrl X
On Mac, it's Command X

(To remember it, think of how the letter X resembles a pair of scissors that are ready to cut.)

Copy (C)

On PC, it's Ctrl C
On Mac, it's Command C

(To remember it, just think of C for Copy.)

Paste (V)

On PC, it's Ctrl V
On Mac, it's Command V

(To remember it, think of how the letter V resembles an arrow pointing down, as if to say "drop it here". Apparently, the Latin word "Vipectus" means "to paste".) 

Undo (Z)

On PC, it's Ctrl Z
On Mac, it's Command Z

(To remember it, try to just remember Z.)

Other Shortcuts

Here are a few more Windows shortcuts that might work for you:

Zoom in/out with + and - (Plus and Minus)

On PC, it's Ctrl + or -

In web browsers, hitting Ctrl + or Ctlr - will increase and decrease the magnification of the currently-open web page, similar to the Zoom feature found in your browser's menu or address bar. (This may also work in other applications, like Zoom.)

Find (F)

On PC, it's Ctrl F

"Find" seems to work in all MS Office applications and all web browsers. In applications, it brings up the Find or Find/Replace feature. In web browsers, it lets you find text within the currently-open web page.

Print (P)

On PC, it's Ctrl P

This opens up the "Print" requester where you can select your printer device, to print to paper (or PDF if you have that capability).

Where do all these shortcut letters come from?

...and who decided to use "V" for "Paste"? It's been said that "V" came to be used for Paste because "Ctrl-P" had already been assigned for Print. It's also been said that V is based on the Latin word for paste: Vipectus.

The origins of the assignment of all these letters came down to us from the early days of computer systems, and from old serial computer terminals (VT100, anyone?). This was a time when text was the only interface available - there were no windows, no menus, and few mice - mostly just commands entered on a keyboard.

Keyboard shortcuts most likely originated with the Unix operating system in the 1970s (or earlier). Those keyboard shortcuts have stayed in Unix, and all its descendants, like Linux. The same keyboard conventions were adapted by the creators of the Windows, Macintosh, and later operating systems too. 

Wikipedia has a large list of many keyboard shortcuts on different operating systems which may give you other useful shortcuts to use.

Further Reading: