The keyboard: It’s not just for typing anymore!

Actually, it never was.
Many computer users do almost everything with their mouse, except actually type. They’re missing out on lots of ways to save time, wrist pain, and frustration by using keyboard shortcuts. (These apply to Windows Computers.)

Used to be, back in the Jurassic age (1985 or so), most everything was done with the keyboard, ’cause that’s all there was. Then some bright boys came up with the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointer) interface, and lots of folks forgot the earlier ways. Fortunately, Those capabilities are still with us. So, stop being a total WIMP (I do so like that acronym!) and watch your productivity soar to new heights!
When was the last time you selected a block of text by holding the mouse button and dragging the cursor down, slowly and laboriously? You could have done it much faster if you had clicked once at the beginning of the text, then held the shift key and clicked once at the end. Try it now- click the left mouse button once at the beginning of this paragraph, then, while holding the shift key, once at the end. You’ll see that the whole block of text between your clicks is now highlighted!
There are many shortcuts like this that will save you uncounted hours of frustration in your everyday computing. Many involve holding one of the special function keys on every modern (Windows) keyboard. These are the Control (ctrl), Alternate (alt), Shift, and Delete (del) keys. These are used in conjunction with other keys or mouse clicks to accomplish things faster than with the mouse alone. this is done by holding the ctrl, alt, or whatever key and then pressing another key or keys. Try holding the ctrl key, then pressing the “A” key. If you did it right, you just highlighted everything on this page – The “A” stands for “All”.

There are many such shortcuts. The most useful are:

  • ctrl + A – Selects (highlights) everything in a document, web page, or folder. the highlighted selection can then be cut, copied, deleted, or otherwise edited, depending on what program or folder you’re in.
  • ctrl + X – This cuts (removes) the selection you already made, so it can be pasted elsewhere.
  • ctrl + C – Copies the selection.
  • ctrl + V – Pastes whatever was cut or copied earlier.
  • ctrl + P – Prints. (That’s why Paste isn’t ctrl + P)
  • ctrl + Z – Performs the “Undo” Command. Very useful when you screw up.
  • ctrl + F – Opens the “Find” box in many programs.
  • In a word processor, ctrl + B gives you bold text, ctrl + I, italics, and ctrl + U, underline.
  • alt + Tab – rotates between all open windows.
  • Tab – Not just for word processors. Use this when filling out a web form to move quickly to the next field.
  • Shift + Delete – Deletes a file permanently, without putting it in the Recycle bin.
  • Windows key (The key on the bottom row with the Windows Logo) – Brings up the Start Menu.
  • Windows + Pause/Break – Displays System Properties.
  • Windows + D – Minimizes all windows so you can see the desktop. Doing it again puts all windows back the way they were, unless you clicked on something.
  • Windows + E – Opens File Explorer.
  • Backspace – Backs up one folder level when in a subfolder.

Now let’s talk briefly about those “F” keys at the top of your keyboard. the two most useful there are:

  • F1, which in most programs opens help. If you’re at the desktop, opens Windows Help.
  • F2 allows you to rename whatever file or files are highlighted.
  • F5 refreshes the current window, very useful for web pages (like reloading that eBay auction you’re watching!).

That’s the 2- minute lesson on using your keyboard like a pro. Now get thee forth and write the next Great American Novel!

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One thought on “The keyboard: It’s not just for typing anymore!

  1. Pingback: Keyboard on Steroids! | The Gizmologist

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