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Helpful WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts to Help You Work Faster

Last Updated on May 8th, 2019

Published on September 11th, 2017


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When you move your mouse around the screen, it might seem like you’re moving quickly. But I promise you that no amount of quick mouse movement is as fast as tapping a few keys on your keyboard.

That’s why WordPress keyboard shortcuts are the key to unlocking your productivity…if you’re willing to learn them.

See – the problem with shortcuts is that they require muscle memory to actually help you work faster. If you have to think about them – they’ll slow you down instead of speeding you up. But if you put in the time to learn them by heart, you can rapidly speed up WordPress tasks like:

  • Writing posts
  • Formatting posts
  • Moderating comments

In this post, I’ll get into some of these WordPress keyboard shortcuts, as well as some strategies for actually using them to speed up your workflows. I’ll use the Windows shortcuts for this post – but Mac users should be able to make the appropriate adjustments and use the same shortcuts.

WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts for Writing Posts

Let’s start off with some keyboard shortcuts that help you write and format your posts quicker. Many of these are technically TinyMCE Editor shortcuts, but there are a couple that are specific to WordPress (like inserting the Read More option).

Just a quick note before I get started though – most of these only work in the Visual tab of the WordPress Editor. If you stay in the text tab, you’re limited to regular keyboard shortcuts.

First up, let’s run through basic formatting shortcuts. There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with these, but I want to make sure that I cover everything because these are super important, though widely known:

To add basic formatting like bold and italics, you can use the following shortcuts when you have text selected.

Basic Formatting

  • Ctrl + B = bold
  • Ctrl + I = italics
  • Ctrl + U = underline

Ok, easy enough. Let’s get a little more creative with our formatting. Here are some more advanced formatting tricks that you might not be as familiar with. They’ll let you quickly add links, lists, alignment, media and more.

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Advanced Formatting

  • Ctrl + K = insert a link for the currently selected text
  • Alt + Shift + R = align selected text to the right
  • Alt + Shift + L = align selected text to the left
  • Alt + Shift + C = align selected text to the center
  • Alt + Shift + M = insert an image or other file from media library
  • Alt + Shift + NUMBER = format selected text as heading NUMBER. For example, “Alt + Shift + 2” gives the selected text an <h2> tag
  • Alt + Shift + T = inserts the “More” tag at the selected position
  • Alt + Shift + U = inserts an unordered list
  • Alt + Shift + O = inserts an ordered list

In order to easily format your posts, you’ll need to be able to quickly select blocks of text, though. You probably use your mouse for this…but I actually think using keyboard shortcuts to select text is superior in a ton of situations.

You have a few different ways to select text without using your mouse, each depending on:

  • How much text you’d like to select
  • Where your cursor is currently positioned

Text Select Options

  • Shift + Arrow key – select a single character in the direction that you press. Can tap key multiple times to select multiple characters.
  • Ctrl + Home = select all text from your cursor’s current position to the beginning of the line
  • Ctrl + End = select all text from your cursor’s current position to the end of the line
  • Ctrl + A = selects everything
  • Ctrl + Shift + Left/Right Arrow key = selects the full word to the right or left. Can select multiple words by pressing multiple times
  • Ctrl + Shift + Up/Down Arrow key = selects the full paragraph before (up) or after (down) your cursor. Can select multiple paragraphs by pressing multiple times

An Example of How You Can Use These Shortcuts

Now you know a bunch of shortcuts. But you still might not fully understand how you can put these shortcuts to use to actually speed up your work. To help with that, I’m going to lay out a few of the actual ways in which I use shortcuts that I think are superior to a mouse.

Example 1 – Inserting a Link

To quickly insert a link in my writing, I use a combination of keystrokes rather than using the mouse to select a bit of text. Typically, I type the phrase that I want to use as the anchor text, then I use either Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + Shift + Left to select that phrase. Once I have it selected, I use Ctrl + K to insert the link.

Once you get the hang of that workflow, you’ll be able to insert links in a fraction of a second without needing to remove your hands from your keyboard.

Example 2 – Formatting Headers

Formatting headers with your mouse is a drag because you have to not only click a button, but also select from the drop-down. That’s wasted time! Instead, try this:

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  • Type the text you want to appear in your header
  • Hit Ctrl + Home to select that text (because your header is a single line, this should always work)
  • Use Alt + Shift + NUMBER to format the text with your desired heading

No drop-down and no need to move your hands. Again, easy peasy!

Play around with the shortcuts and I bet that you can find some examples of your own.

WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts for Managing Comments

Beyond writing posts faster, the other area in which keyboard shortcuts can help you manage your WordPress site is comments.

To enable these shortcuts, you need to go to Users → Your Profile and check the box to Enable keyboard shortcuts for comment moderation.

Once enabled, you can use any of the following keyboard shortcuts on your Comments screen.

Selecting Comments

  • J = moves the comment selection down to select the next comment
  • K = moves the comment selection up to select the previous comment
  • X = selects multiple comments (add more by using J or K)

Moderating or Editing Comments

  • A = approve the selected comment
  • D = send selected comment to trash
  • U = unapprove the selected comment
  • R = reply to comment
  • Q = edit a comment
  • Z = restore a comment if you accidentally delete it

You can also perform bulk actions (when you have multiple comments selected) by adding Shift to the commands above.

Like the WordPress Editor keyboard shortcuts, it might take you some time to memorize these combinations. But once you commit them to memory, they’ll speed up your comment moderation workflow.

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Wrapping Things Up

If you use WordPress professionally, especially if most of that work is writing, learning these keyboard shortcuts is a no-brainer in my opinion. I use them every single day to speed up writing and formatting my posts, so I personally know that they save you a ton of time.

Yes, it might only take you a couple of seconds to move your hand over to your mouse to format some text, but those seconds start adding up over time.

Spend some time playing around with these shortcuts, and I bet you’ll be writing or moderating comments faster in no time.

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing, WordPress and B2B writing. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi. You can also follow his travel blog.