Learning the 'Shortcuts' Can Make Computing Simpler
One of the aggravating things about using a computer is all the menus that you have to go through to perform simple tasks.
In many cases, you have to take your hand off the keyboard, put it on the mouse, position the cursor on a menu choice, look for the task you want to perform from a drop-down menu, position the cursor on your choice, click the mouse and then put your hand back on the keyboard to continue typing.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could simply press a few keys and not have to deal with the mouse or those nasty menus? Well, you can.
There are keyboard shortcuts that let you press certain keys or combinations of keys to perform many common tasks. These shortcuts not only increase productivity, but also they reduce repetitive strain from the mouse use and will make your computing life just a little bit easier.
Here are my top 10 keyboard shortcuts that every computer user should learn and use every day.
n Ctrl+S will save the current document. Although the shortcut key combinations are defined by the application being used, this, and most of the following combinations, will work in most applications. Most will also work on the Mac by substituting the Control key for the Ctrl key.
n CTRL+P will print the current file or document.
n Ctrl+C will copy the highlighted text or the selected item into the computer clipboard. You won't actually see anything happen, but when you use the next shortcut (Ctrl+V), what you just highlighted and copied will be pasted into the program you are using.
n Ctrl+V will paste the text or object that is in the clipboard into the program you are using. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V are very useful for copying text from on program to another.
n Ctrl+Z is a real powerhouse shortcut. It will undo the last thing that you did. For instance, if you just deleted something, pressing Ctrl+Z will get it back. If you just moved something to the wrong place, Ctrl+Z will return it to its original place. Pressing Ctrl+Y will redo what you have just undone.
n Ctrl+F opens the Find window and finds the text that you enter.
n Ctrl+Home and Ctrl+End move the cursor to the beginning or end of a document. This is especially useful when working with long documents. It is also useful when viewing Web pages.
n The Windows key is the key with the Windows logo, which is on the bottom row of the left side of the keyboard. Pressing this button will open the Start menu just as if you clicked your mouse on the Windows Start button, but you don't have to take your hands off the keyboard.
Once the Start menu is on the screen, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move to what you want to choose and then use the Enter key to make the choice. (Look Ma! No mouse needed!)
n The Tab key moves to the next entry area in a dialog box. When you fill out forms, for instance, type your first name in the first name box, then instead of positioning your mouse cursor in the last name box, you can simply press the Tab key and the cursor will move to the next box.
Using the Tab key can help you fill out Web forms with lightning speed.
n F1 is one of the function keys at the top of the keyboard. In just about every program, pressing this key will bring up the Help screen.
There are many other keyboard shortcuts that you might want to investigate depending on how you use the computer. For instance, if you use a word processing program, a lot shortcuts such as Ctrl+B to bold highlighted text and Ctrl+U to underline highlighted text can be very helpful.
If you want to update your browser window to display the latest news or stock prices, pressing F5 will refresh the window and make the latest updates appear. If you deal with files and folders a lot, pressing the Windows key plus the E key will bring up Windows Explorer.
(Note: Although I list the key with a capital letter, like Ctrl+S, there is no need to capitalize any of the keys used in key combinations. For this example, just press and hold the key marked Crtl down and then press the key marked "s." They do not have to be pressed simultaneously. It is usually easier to press the Ctrl key with your little finger then hold it down while pressing the other key.)
There are shortcuts that can help you with just about any task.
Don't forget to try some of these shortcuts. Put the ones you find useful on a sticky note on your monitor until using them becomes second nature to you. You'll be glad you did!
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp, P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst N.C 28374; or by e-mail to email@example.com.
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