I was doing a field interview with a schoolbus trainer. She was doing her searches just fine, moving right along, when she was suddenly stymied by a fairly simple search problem. She was looking for a particular section of the California Vehicle Code and found a fairly long page that clearly should have held the information, but it just didn't seem to be there.
After about 5 minutes of fruitlessly scrolling up and down the document, I asked "What are you looking for?" Her rather grimaced reply was "I'M SEARCHING FOR THE CODE..."
It took me a while to realize that she was visually searching the entire lengthy document, line-by-line, to find the code.
It was clear that she didn't know how to use the web browser's built-in "Find" function. I was surprised because I'd thought that this was universal knowledge. How could you browse the web daily, as she does, and NOT know about Control-F (or Command-F for Mac users)?
Since then, I've done a fairly extensive survey of US internet users, and the answer still shocks me.
90% of American internet users do NOT know how to use Control-F (or equivalent) to find a given string on a page. (Sample size so far: 2,512.)
Among school teachers, the average isn't much better--it's currently running at 50%.
When I teach my internet search classes, I always ask, and I'm always surprised. I just taught a class of twelve K12 teachers, and only one person actually knew how to find a word on the page.
If YOU don't know, here's the best tip I can give you to improve your search skills:
Control-F, or Command-F, lets you look for a string somewhere on the page. This works in all browsers, and nearly every piece of software (e.g., Acrobat, Powerpoint, Word, Excel...) It usually pops up a "find" box somewhere on the application that lets you type in exactly what you'd like to find, and then
If you only learn one keyboard shortcut in your entire life, this should be it. Knowing how to rapidly spot the word, phrase or substring you're looking for quickly will change the way you read texts online.
It will change the way you read. But more about that later...