What's Been Your Biggest "Why Didn't Someone Tell Me" Discovery?

murrayvarey profile image MurrayVarey ・1 min read

Have you ever made a discovery that blew your mind (in a good way)? Something that quickly solved a nagging problem, or perhaps something that you'd been doing wrong for years?

Tech and/or non-tech answers are all good.


Editor guide

For me, it was discovering that Ctrl + Backspace deletes an entire word. It completely changed how I type.

I was so excited -- I told everyone I knew, thinking I would change the world ...
Only one person cared. But he still thanks me to this day.

Hopefully yours is better than mine!


I discovered it too! And now I use it a lot. Rather than correcting a mispelled word, I just delete it entirely and re-write it. It's way faster.

Also: CTRL+SHIFT+Left Arrow will select an entire word and CTRL+Left arrow will jump.


Exactly, it means you stay in your typing flow. Before -- after hammering Backspace 12 times to delete a word -- I'd have forgotten what I was actually trying to say.

Also, it's really satisfying to see a typo just disappear, like you're swatting it away.

I love all those entire word select shortcuts. They save so much time.

  • sidles up *

Psst. Have you tried vim?

Ha! Not for a loooong time. Maybe I'm ready.

What I like most about CTRL + Backspace is that it works all over the place -- from Word to Google Docs. In theory my mum could use it (if she could be bothered).

On the Mac I use for work, in iTerm it deletes the previous letter, same as ^H. In this textarea I'm using to type this reply it does... nothing.
That's partially just down to it the oddities of MacOS - a lot of keyboard shortcuts are weird on Mac, like ctrl/alt left and right arrow, or ctrl-R or alt-dot. You have to go through a process of setting it up on a new machine, because most of these are broken out the box.

Ah, I'm not a Mac user, so that's good to know. According to @achu it's ⌘ + Delete on a Mac.

Yeah, that does nothing on mine either :)

Oh dear. This might be why I failed to change the world.


As I mentioned, that does nothing on my Mac.


On Mac, that's ⌘ + Delete


that does teh whole line. option+delete does a word.


Wow, I didn't know that. I used CTRL + Shift + Left + Backspace 🤦‍♂️ Thanks for that!


Happy to help!


I love that too, although I too often forget it's there.


I found out that Ctrl + Shift + T opens the windows that you had previously closed. As you go on doing it, it will go back in history sequentially and open the windows you had closed in the same way. I was really excited when I discovered it !


Ah man, I could have done with this one yesterday! Thank you!


Whaaaat, this is great!


When using your internet browser, using CMD + L jumps your focus to the address bar. It's really useful, especially when referencing information within the current tab while typing into the address bar.


On Mac,Cmd + L will take you to the address bar. But beware, if you switch platforms a lot, WindowsKey + L locks the system and you have to login again to unlock. (On Windows, use Alt + D.)

Context, using an external keyboard, the Command and Windows keys are in the same location....


F6 does the same thing!


I used F6 for this.


Awesome, I didn't know this. Will have to give it a try.

I'm becoming a keyboard shortcut nut. It makes talking to normal people quite challenging ...


For me, when writing something -> to select more than one word or line, without dragging the mouse pointer the whole time,

just keep the typing bar on starting point and click the ending point with a shift

it just changes everything


Did I know this? Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm certainly going to start using it now. Thanks!


I use shift-click for that?


yea sorry, I meant shift


That dragging the middle mouse button in VSCode lets you add multiple cursors on different lines and/or select just a portion of a text on multiple lines at the same time.


Yeah, that's a nice one. Did you see @peacefullatom 's Visual Studio Productivity post yesterday? Well worth a read.


Here's one more trick. Select portion of text and press Ctrl + Shift + L - this will select all fragments within opened document, this you can edit them all at once 🙃


Huge thing for me was learning how to put the output from the command line directly to the clipboard without going through an intermediate temp file.

Windows: some_command | clip
MacOS: some_command | pbcopy

(For Linux, I believe xclip is popular, but I'm not completely sure.)


The discovery that I could escape the debugging hell with TDD.



Great link -- that really lays TDD out clearly. It can be a tricky sell sometimes.

Out of interest, was your TDD discovery a lightbulb moment or more of a slow realisation?


A wonderful lightbulb. Up to this day, I don't understand why it is not taught from day 1.
I also don't understand why it's not the standard way of doing code''.

Sure there's no one way of coding, but from a junior perspective, TDD is so structuring.

'' I guess that's because developers darwinism : only those who learned to love debugging survived to become professionals.

Up to this, I don't understand why it is not taught from day 1

It may well come. I have a similar feeling about source control. Who wouldn't want a great whack off undo button from day one?


Navigating the shell command history with the arrow keys, I was so happy when I read a tweet about the Ctrl-r shorcut. It was even better when I found out fzf had a keybinding that does the same thing.


I switch web pages A LOT . so for me , it was CTRL + tab . It switchs open tabs.Also CTLR + W which is closes window.


It is indispensable, as well as Ctrl+Shift+Tab to go to the previous tab.


Oh, I use that a lot too. You can also use CTRL + 1 to 9 to switch tabs.


Finding out that you can assign an alias to search engines in Chrome and use tab in the address bar to switch to "search mode" was pretty nice. In combination with Ctrl + L I focus the address bar, type yt, press tab, enter my search term, press enter and Chrome takes me to youtube which then will present the search results :)


That's a nifty trick. I'll give that a whirl!


Being able to load keymappings into VScode - I come from Notepad++ and love my ctrl+d to duplicate and ctrl+shift+up/dn arrows to move lines about. If you're using VScode and you've come from another editor, check the plugins! There's very likely a keymapping plugin to make the whole way more familiar.


This is what enabled me to move to vscode without losing my mind. Moved from Sublime and moved all my keymappings over


Windows button and L locks your computer and ctrl alt left turns your screen rightways back up when your toddler button mashed your laptop screen sideways


"Keyboard Shortcuts for When Your Toddler Button Mashes Your Laptop" could be an entire genre in itself!


For me the most recent thing was CTE's (Common Table Expressions), best way to make SQL readable, instead of ugly encapsulation of every sub select you can give it nice names and easy structure.
here an example:

with my_cte as
select id, t.* from some.table t where
2nd_select as
select fk_id as id, t.* from awesome.table t
Select * from my_cte a
Inner join 2nd_select b on a.id = b.id


Can be an another way to bend the optimiser to produce better plans too.


Not very recent but still:

In vim
"dd" - to delete the whole line. If you press and hold "d" it starts to delete multiple lines.
"G" - go to the end of file. How I was able to survive my first years in vim not knowing that!

Ctrl-W to close current tab / window / document. So easy compared to Ctrl-F4!

Terminals in Linux GUIs
Middle button does paste!


The real mean of “session” in sessionStorage.
It’s not about “session” but “tab”.


Using Cmd + ctrl and the arrows to move an entire line of code (Or selected text) in atom, I believe it’s alt/option in vscode. I always blow interns’ minds with that haha.


I just found out that there is a good alternative to jira worth to look at... Even worth to switch to!


Always thought there is no such thing as a good and complete alternative to the whole atlassian family which I never quite liked...


For me, that was the reverse-i-search in linux terminal. Ctrl + r then type a key word.

Ctrl + r then type php, will find in my history: /bin/systemctl restart php-fpm.service

I use it dozens of times every day.


Vim. Vimium for chrome. Vimperator for FF. Vim for VS Code 🙌


Ctrl + f to search for word(s) on a page. I actually learned about this on a food blog. I thought it was old news but I find myself still telling people about it.


Being able to position cursor on multiple lines at the same column position and then type in those lines. It's been a life saver.