Featured

hands-on-keyboard01Those of us who use our computers on a regular basis have learned over time that the more you have to take your hands away from the keyboard (i.e. use the mouse), the longer it ultimately takes to do things.

A good example of this is when you’re typing up a document (as I’m doing right now as I type this article). When I go to format (i.e. make it look pretty), I’m constantly having to move my right hand back and forth between typing on the keyboard, and clicking the mouse on a format button (such as BOLD or UNDERLINE). This back and forth ultimately leads to a lot of time wasted.

And this is just one simple example. There are lots of others, including when you’re working in a folder window, typing an email message, etc. etc.

So to save time, “power computer users” (which can be ANYONE including YOU) have learned about using Keyboard Shortcuts.  Let’s take a look…

The ALT and CTRL Keys

Since the beginning of computer-time, keyboards have had two keys on either side of the SPACEBAR that when pressed by themselves, don’t do a darn thing. I’m referring to the CTRL and ALT keys.

The CTRL and ALT keys

No, they don’t work by themselves, instead, they are meant to be used in combination with other keys to quickly do certain tasks, right from the keyboard.

For example, to quickly print something, instead of using your mouse and clicking the print button, or going to the FILE menu and choosing print, you can press CTRL + P keys together.

This is what is meant by “keyboard shortcuts”, and the primary keys used for these shortcuts are ALT and CTRL.

How to Press the Keys

The common way you see keyboard shortcuts listed is by listing the keys used with a “plus-sign” between them, as I did above with CTRL + P.

But keep in mind that when I say “press CTRL + P together”, I don’t mean “try to press them both at exactly the same time”.

Instead, CTRL + P means to do these three steps with your fingers…

  1. Press and hold the CTRL key with one finger
  2. While continuing to hold CTRL, reach over with another finger and press, then release the P key
  3. Finally, let go of the CTRL key

Notice that in these steps, you first press and hold CTRL down, and then reach over and press the other key.  A common mistake my students make is to try and press them both at exactly the same time, which they don’t need to do.

Another common mistake that’s made is to hold the 2nd key TOO LONG!  Remember, your keyboard has a “repeat feature” where pressing a key for more than about a second will cause that key to repeat.

JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ  (yes, I just held down the “J” key and look what happened!)

Let’s Add in the WIN Key

Although CTRL and ALT are the most common keys used for doing keyboard shortcuts, there is another that’s been added more recently, the WIN (or Window) Key.

This is the key labeled with the Windows “logo” that is either on the left side of the SPACEBAR or sometimes on both sides like the ALT and CTRL keys.

The WIN key

Like the CTRL and ALT keys, the WIN key is also used in combination with other keys to quickly do things, but unlike ALT and CTRL, the WIN key also works by itself.  When you press it, it will display the Windows Start Menu (Windows 7 and Vista) or take you to the Start Screen (Windows 8).

And Yes, there are still the “F” Keys

Even before the CTRL and ALT keys were used to quickly do things, and especially back in the DOS era before Windows came along, many of the programs we used let us use the keyboard “F-keys” to do quick tasks.

The F-keys (or more correctly, the Function Keys) I’m referring to run across the top of most keyboards, and include F1, F2, F3, etc. typically through F12 (although some keyboards have more, some less than F1 to F12).

The F-Keys

F-Keys are often used by themselves instead of in combination with other keys, but can also be used in combination with the ALT and CTRL keys.

For example, almost every program ever written lets you use the F1 key to display help. In fact, I bet if you press it right now as you’re reading this article in your favorite browser (such as Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer), a new tab or window will open and take you to the HELP for that browser.

My Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts

So now you know all about which keys you might use for doing shortcuts (CTRL, ALT, WIN, or F-keys), but what are the keyboard shortcuts worth doing?

First of all, one way you can see the shortcuts available in a particular program is to look at the pull-down menus, or if you are using a new program that has “ribbons” (such as Microsoft Word or Excel), just mouse over the ribbon button, and the pop-up help will include the keyboard shortcut.

shortcut-key-help01Here’s an example of mousing-over the “U” button on the Home Ribbon of Excel. Notice it includes “(Ctrl + U)” showing the keyboard shortcut for Underline.

 

 

 

Right now I’m working on putting together a fairly comprehensive, “cheat-sheet” of my favorite shortcuts. When it’s done, I’ll be sure to publish it on DiscoverSkills.

But in the meantime, here is a short list of my favorite and most-used keyboard shortcuts.

Favorite-Keyboard-Shortcuts01

And again, I didn’t include it above in the table, but don’t forget the F1 key for displaying HELP!!!

Do you have some favorite shortcuts you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear about them. Just leave me a comment below!

 

FREE eNewsletter Subscription
Wondering who you can trust when it comes to computer technology? Need answers that aren’t full of techno babble? Sign up for the FREE DiscoverSkills eNewsletter

comment01

{ 4 comments }

Using Bing for Pictures & Clipart

Thumbnail image for Using Bing for Pictures & Clipart by John Lortz Featured

A few weeks ago I was teaching a word-processing class and discovered something I hadn’t seen before. At one point in the class, we started talking about adding clip-art to a document, and one my students who was using their own laptop computer and running Microsoft Word 2013, raised their hand with a problem. I came […]

Read the full article →

iPad & iPhone Battery Saving Tips

Thumbnail image for iPad & iPhone Battery Saving Tips by John Lortz Featured

Battery life has always been an issue with battery-powered devices, and since we now use mobile tablets and phones more than ever, and expect them to work longer during the day, extending battery life is almost critical. For that reason I thought it might be a good idea to pass along a few battery saving […]

Read the full article →

My 2015 Internet Safety Suggestions

Thumbnail image for My 2015 Internet Safety Suggestions by John Lortz Featured

Over the past few months,  Stephen (the person who runs the AgeWell Computer Lab in Lincoln, NE) and I have had numerous discussions about the big increase we’ve both seen in online threats (viruses, malware, scams, etc.), and how it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep your computer and personal information safe, even if you take all […]

Read the full article →

Most Popular Technology Articles of 2014

Thumbnail image for Most Popular Technology Articles of 2014 by John Lortz Featured

As the new year approaches, one thing I always like to do is go back and re-read articles I’ve written the past year, just to remind myself of what happened during the year, and to review the most urgent questions my students asked (since I often write articles in response to questions). But this year, as […]

Read the full article →

How to Check Your Windows Update Settings

Thumbnail image for How to Check Your Windows Update Settings by John Lortz Featured

As I’ve mentioned in numerous “security” related articles here on DiscoverSkills, Windows Updates are an important part of keeping yourself safe from the “nasty stuff” that’s out there on the Internet. And because of the importance of making sure your updates are happening, I routinely get asked… “how do I check for updates” and “can […]

Read the full article →

Beware of “Fix Your Computer” Scams!

Thumbnail image for Beware of “Fix Your Computer” Scams! by John Lortz Featured

By now you’ve probably heard of them, but in case you haven’t (and since they are still a popular method of fraud), I wanted to make sure you all know about “Fix Your Computer” scams. What Happens There are various forms of this scam, but here is typically what happens… You get a phone call or […]

Read the full article →

Black Friday to Cyber Monday… What’s it all about?

Thumbnail image for Black Friday to Cyber Monday… What’s it all about? by John Lortz Featured

[Updated for November, 2014] Marketing people love an excuse for a sale. Any excuse will do. If “something” is happening, a sale can be built around that “something”. This time of year the “something” is Christmas, which is an obvious no-brainer for marketers to build sales around. But not being happy with just “Sales for Christmas”, […]

Read the full article →

Norton 360’s “end of life” leads me to a new Anti-Virus favorite!

Thumbnail image for Norton 360’s “end of life” leads me to a new Anti-Virus favorite! by John Lortz Featured

[Quick Summary: realizing this is a long article, for those not interested in the details, I’m moving away from Norton 360 and over to Kaspersky Internet Security as soon as my subscription to Norton has ended. You can CLICK HERE to visit my Amazon Store and see the latest Kaspersky pricing. HOWEVER, I do have some […]

Read the full article →

Getting Started with Google Apps (Tools) – Free Word-Processing and Spreadsheet

Thumbnail image for Getting Started with Google Apps (Tools) – Free Word-Processing and Spreadsheet by John Lortz Featured

One of my favorite online destinations is Google, in fact, on most of my computer browsers Google is my home page! Sure, part of the reason for this is that I’m often “looking for things” on the Internet, and Google is the perfect place to start since its main purpose in life is to be […]

Read the full article →