You do not need to spend money to improve productivity on your Macintosh: you can do it easily by following a few simple Mac keyboard shortcuts. Memorise two or three of these and you will work much faster and impress friends with your computer savvy. With keyboard shortcuts, you press a combination of keys and your computer executes a menu command. Cutting, copying and pasting is a good example. One would normally go to the edit menu and select one of these actions. But if you press the command key (the two keys that have the apple symbol on them that are located on either side of the space bar) and the X key, you will hear an odd vroop sound and the selected item will be cut from your work. Press the apple and the V key and you will hear a pfsst sound and the previously cut item will be deposited wherever the cursor is resting. For some reason, copying (apple C) does not make any sound at all. So that's apple X, apple C, and apple V for cutting, copying and pasting. Practise them for a day and they are yours for life. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of keyboard time-savers. Below are a few of the most valuable for increasing productivity and getting out of scrapes. For speed demons, note that each application - as well as the Finder and the Dock - have shortcuts that can enhance your productivity. Within an application, the shortcuts can be found listed in the bar menus to the right of each menu item. The most used are apple S for saving, apple P for printing, apple O for opening an existing document and apple N for starting a new one. For editing, the most useful shortcuts are apple Z for undoing what you just did and apple A for selecting everything in your document. Other favourites are apple F for activating the Find-and-Replace function of the application you are in, and Option apple L for activating the spell-checker. If you use bold letters frequently, memorise apple B. That takes any selected type and bolds it. In the Finder (or the desktop), the handiest shortcuts are holding the shift key while selecting multiple consecutive items (which selects a consecutive group) or holding the apple key down while selecting so-called noncontiguous items (which selects a noncontiguous group). This works in many applications as well. Want to delete half of your e-mail? These are the tricks that save you a lot of time. To access Apple's Finder tools, use apple ? for Help and apple F to activate the Sherlock Find application. The Escape key closes a menu or dialogue box without choosing anything and the Return key will select the default item or the highlighted button in menus or dialogue boxes. This shortcut, all by itself, will reduce your risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you have a large monitor, these shortcuts are a bit of a godsend because they save you from using the mouse across the screen to the button on every dialogue box. To hide the application that is uppermost on the desktop, use apple H. Clicking on that application's icon in the dock brings everything back in a flash. If you have a lot of stuff open on your desktop and would like it all out of your way, Option apple H clears your screen. In the Dock, if you press apple Option while clicking on an application, all the applications that are open will disappear except the one you click on. This is great for putting order in when things get a little chaotic. Most repair and maintenance is tedious work, but it can be made a lot less tedious by memorising a few more shortcuts. The most useful are holding down the apple, Control and Power button to restart a frozen Mac, and holding down the Option key while your Mac is starting, if you want to start from another disk such as a Firewire drive. This will present you with all the startup drives available. Choose the one you like and press the arrow icon and the Mac will finish starting up from that disk. I use my Mac more and more in Target disk mode. That is, my Mac is started to mount as a Firewire hard disk on another computer or more likely someone else's Mac is started to mount as a Firewire disk on my desktop. This is a very handy way for me to gain instant access to that computer so I can do repair work or back up its drive. Likewise, starting from a CD is accomplished by holding down the C key while starting your Mac. Occasionally, you may like your Mac to boot without starting all of the applications that normally open at startup. This is accomplished by holding the shift key during startup and can be used on those rare occasions when your Mac has difficulty starting at all. I suggest that you make a list of your favourites. Practise a chosen few each week until you are a wizard with these magical tools. It will not take long before the compliments start rolling in. E-mail Dave Horrigan at email@example.com with your Mac queries.