The new, streamlined interface in QuarkXPress 8 and 9 makes this already efficient program even more efficient to use. I’ve developed a new habit of pressing V and T to access the Item and Text tool, respectively.
When I’m editing the content of a box (text or picture), and I want to switch to the Item tool — say, to move a bunch of items around — I just click away from any item, and then press V. By clicking away from items, I deselect all items. Then by pressing V, the Item tool is activated.
To edit some text, you can just double-click on the text box. But if the text box is grouped with other items, that doesn’t work — a double-click brings up the Modify Group dialog box. Instead, just press the T key. This switches you to the Text tool, and you can just click on any text box in the group to edit the text in it!
To recap: click-then-V to get the Item tool. Double-click a text box to get the Text tool, or just press T.