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I’m amazed at how little we know about the tools we use for our everyday work/leisure. For the past 3/4 days I’ve been amazed with the discovery of the ctrl+shift+T shortcut in Firefox. I’m not aware of when they added it to Firefox, but now I use it all the time!

The shortcut does a simple thing – it reopens the last closed tab. If you press it more than once it will reopen the tab you closed before the last one etc. Since I’m quite a tab juggler while browsing the web (meaning I usually open 7 tabs at once, reorder them, then read them and close them) I often close a tab prematurely. Also, sometimes I realize there’s something I wanted to check on a tab that I just closed.

Before I used to go through the recently closed tabs menu option, or even the history one if I couldn’t find it in the recently closed tabs (and it could happen). Now all I need to do is click 3 buttons and the magic happens! Things like these really make me happy 🙂

While the previously mentioned shortcut might not be revolutionary and not be considered “important” for one’s daily work, there’s another example – the Eclipse IDE. I’ve been using Eclipse on a daily basis for almost 3 years now. And only a few months ago I became aware of the beautiful shortcuts ctrl+shift+R and ctrl+O. For those of you who aren’t aware of them – ctrl+shif+R opens a wildcard-search window for finding any resource (for example a class file) in your workspace. Similarly ctrl+O opens a wildcard search for the members/fields of the currently open class.

Finding a class in a project was a frustrating task before – I’d wildly scroll through the project tree trying to remember which package the class belongs to. Finding a method inside a class was usually easier, but frustrating nonetheless. Now I feel happy each time I use those shortcuts (which is probably a few hundred times a day). Happy and stupid because I didn’t use them before. I wonder how much time I’ve wasted on searching for classes manually – time which could have been spent in a more productive way. Nowadays I spend a few seconds on what took me a minute or more before – the most basic task during software development – finding the code you’re working at.

The unawareness of the capabilities of the tools we use daily is truly an amazing thing. I recall I tried to find such a functionality in Eclipse, but couldn’t find it in the menus so I assumed it wasn’t there. I even considered writing my own Eclipse plugin to help me find classes. I failed to realize, at the time, that I’m not the only one with that problem and that someone else probably already solved it – what’s more, the solution was already there.

The bottom line would be, I guess, that learning about software development doesn’t start with learning the programming language we use. It starts with learning about the tools we use for coding it – something we can forget and lose valuable time. For starters – try pressing ctrl+shift+L in Eclipse. I’m sure you’ll find something you didn’t know 😉

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