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Using the “Find” Command | Savvy Tech Tips

December 28th 2006

Using the “Find” Command

Computer: All • Level: Novice

When I do training seminars, I’ll occasionally ask students to find something on a webpage or in a document. The majority of participants will start to look around with their eyes, then start scrolling if they don’t find it right away. This, of course, is a natural and intuitive reaction: If someone tells you to look for something, you use your eyes to find it. Furthermore, this is often the best way to find something on computers. If you’ve got a small, organized webpage or moderately sized document, scanning quickly with your eyes for information is highly efficient.

The problem arises when we use our eyes to find precise bits of information on larger webpages and in longer documents. In these cases, using our eyes is not the most efficient way. People scroll all over the place, hunt up and down pages for the information they seek, and accomplishFound little except to get frustrated.

There is a better way: Get in the habit of going to the “find” command quickly. Most programs have this underutilized feature, and a lot of computer users know about it. But most computer users go to it far too slowly. By using this command instinctively, you can find things on pages and in documents much faster.

The key to using the “Find” function well is to remember the generic keystroke command to pull it up, so you don’t have to go to the pull-down menus to get to it. For most Windows programs (Explorer, Firefox, Word, etc.), you pull up the find command by holding down the Control key and pressing F. On Macs, you hold down the Command key (the one with the Apple on it) and press F. Your cursor will move to a field provided by the program where you can type in a word relating to the thing you are looking for in the document or on the page. You type in a word—or part of a word you are looking for—and the program will scan the document for the particular piece of information you seek.

Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll find that you can find information much faster than if you rely on your intuitive reaction of looking for things with your eyes. My general rule is that if I can’t find something on a page or in a document in about three seconds, I pull up the find command and type something in. It takes a while to get used to this, but once you get in the habit of doing so, you’ll find that you’ll locate information much faster.

Here are just a few common examples when this can especially help:

  • Looking for shipping or contact information on websites (type “ship” or “contact”).
  • Looking for a news story link on a particular site (type something particular, like “earthquake” or “Obama”).
  • Looking in any large text document for a particular piece of information (type something very specific).


Good luck, and happy finding!

1 Comment »

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