Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 is a modern, fast, and efficient web browser that will speed up the web for its users.
But, if you really want to get the most out of this new and vastly improved web browser, you’ve got to take advantage of keyboard shortcuts. Every browser has keyboard shortcuts. Some shortcuts are universally recognized. Some are unique to a specific browser, but every shortcut will save you time and help you navigate the web more quickly.
Ctrl + T : Open a New Tab
Hold down the Ctrl button, mash the “T” key, and IE9 will open a new browser tab.
If you’re like many modern Internet users, you often have several browser tabs open and in use. For example, your ecommerce store’s admin panel, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and your product management system (think Basecamp or JIRA) are probably all open at once. So when you want to look up something on Bing or Google, or if you want to check something on Wikipedia, use this shortcut to open a new tab without having to move your hand to your mouse.
Ctrl + Tab : Step Through Tabs
As the day wears on, you may find yourself with dozens of tabs open. You still need most of these, but moving between tabs is starting to be a struggle. What to do? Try holding down Ctrl and pressing the Tab key. In IE9, this will step through all of the open tabs, helping you to jump quickly from one page to another.
Ctrl +(1 to 8) : Leap to a Specific Tab
If the tab you want to switch to happens to be one of the first eight, simply hold down the Ctrl key and press the corresponding number key. IE9 will leap directly to the tab you select.
This is especially helpful if you are working on a task that requires you to switch back and forth between two specific tabs.
Ctrl + 9 : Makes the Last Tab Active
Another helpful shortcut, holding down the Ctrl key and pressing 9, will make the very last tab active. Similar to the shortcut mentioned above, this one is great for leaping to the end of the line, so to speak.
Ctrl + Alt + F4 : Close All Tabs But One
When it’s time to clean up your tabs, holding down the Ctrl key and the Alt key and then pressing F4 will close all of the tabs except the active one. So just focus on the one tab you want to keep and this shortcut will close the rest.
Ctrl + Enter : Get “www.” and “.com”
Keyboard shortcuts are all about saving time and motion. So ask yourself, how often in a given day do you type “google.com” or “practicalecommerce.com” or any of a dozen or more other URLs into your browser’s address bar? A lot of times, right?
Instead, type just the site name, like “google” or “practicalecommerce” and hold down the Ctrl key while you press the Enter key. IE9 will automatically place a “www.” in front of what you typed and a “.com” after what you typed. It will even take you to the web address.
So typing “google” and using this shortcut will take you directly to “www.google.com.”
Ctrl + F : Search the Current Page for a Keyword
One fairly common keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + F. This key combination will open a search box in IE9, allowing you to search for a keyword on page. This is especially helpful for researching topics on content-dense web pages.
F12, Then Alt + (7 to 9) : Change Rendering Mode
Compared to earlier versions of Internet Explorer, IE9 is extremely friendly to web developers and website owners and marketers. For example, one longstanding challenge with Internet Explorer is that several old and dilapidated versions of the browser are still in use, and each successive version of IE renders web pages very differently. So web developers and site owners typically have had to purchase additional software, use virtual machines, or use tools like the IETester browser to learn how their sites look in, say, IE7.
While IE9 cannot go out and destroy every instance of IE6 through IE8, it can give you an idea of how your page will look in those older browsers. To see how a particular page will look in an older IE, click F12 to open developer tools then hold down the Alt key and press 7, 8, or 9 to render the current page as IE7, IE8, or IE9 respectively. Some web forums say that pressing Alt + 5 or Alt + 6 will force the browser to render in IE5 or IE6. But in testing, I couldn’t reproduce the effect for these two much older versions.
Keyboard shortcuts can speed up your daily journeys on the Internet super highway, transforming an average IE user into a power user.
In this article, I’ve outlined the IE9 keyboard shortcuts that I use most, but there are dozens more. Master these and then find your own favorites.