Monday, May 02, 2011


In today’s world, part of becoming information literate is learning short cuts and tricks for navigating your way around information. Ctrl+f is one of my favorite all purpose time savers. It works in so many applications, PDF files, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, WordPad, NotePad, and most of the Microsoft Office suite of products among other things.

(In case you are not familiar with it, holding down the Ctrl (Control) key and the letter f simultaneously allows you to type a word or series of characters you want to find on the page. The same function can be found in the Edit menu of the toolbar.)

For example, let’s say I am looking for information about headaches caused by weather conditions. I Google "weather headaches" and find a number of promising websites. But I have a headache and each one of these sites seems to have a lot of superfluous information that I don’t want to wade through if I don’t have to. I just want to know if this article is about the kind of weather conditions that can cause headaches. I would give up after about 30 seconds if it weren't for the magic of Ctrl+f "Find on This Page." With Ctrl+f I can search for a few keywords (one at a time) like "cause" or "trigger." If Ctrl+f doesn’t find the words I’m looking for on that page, I move on.

Here’s another one. Let’s say I am writing a blog post and I have edited it so much and gotten interrupted so often that I don’t remember if I kept a particular illustration in or took it out. I don’t want to read through it to find out because it’s getting kind of late and I can’t be sure I won’t miss it if it’s there. I don’t want to repeat myself so I go to my Ctrl+f and look for a keyword in my illustration. Eureka! It’s wonderful!

I want to be able to use Ctrl+f for everything in my life. I want to open my purse and Ctrl+f my keys. I want to go to the mall and Ctrl+f a blouse that looks flattering, goes with more than one of my skirts, and is within my price range -- in less than 30 minutes. And I want to open a book and Ctrl+f to find the concepts I’m most interested in. That’s why e-Books – especially reference books such as encyclopedias – were so easily accepted. They can be searched quickly.

Next, I want to be like Trinity in The Matrix when Neo asks her if she knows how to fly a helicopter. She says, "Not yet," makes a phone call, and within seconds, she does. She must have been using an advanced version of Ctrl+f.

1 comment:

Beth Lee said...

I love Ctrl+f too and don't think it has gotten the recognition it deserves. Thanks Robin for this post!