The three most under-utilized keyboard shortcuts

I was standing behind my wife the other day quietly watching her use her computer to write an email. The more I watched the clearer it became just how much extra work she was creating for herself by not using Windows keyboard shortcuts.

Most average users know a few keyboard shortcuts such as ^C for Copy, ^X for Cut, and ^V for Paste but here are three additional shortcuts that many folks under-utilize. If you spend a few moments learning them you’ll find them incredibly useful (Note: When I write ^C it means to press down the Ctrl key and while holding it down, press the C key. You then release both together)

The first is ^A. This selects (highlights) everything in the current window or field. So for example you want to copy this entire newsletter into a Word document, hit ^A to select everything then ^C to copy it to the clipboard. Open your Word document and then type ^V to insert it. It’s much quicker than using a mouse to do the same thing. Try ^A now, it should select the whole newsletter. Click anywhere to remove the highlighting.

^A is also really useful when you want to delete the contents of a form field or dialog box. Just hit ^A then Delete. I use it a lot to clear the address box in my browser.

The second handy shortcut is ^Home. This takes you to the top of a document or web page. Similarly ^End takes you to the bottom. It’s much faster than scrolling. Try it now.

The third shortcut is probably the most useful of all. It involves using the Shift key when selecting long lists or text passages.

Let’s say you want to select a section of this newsletter covering several paragraphs. The way most users would do this would be to left mouse click at the start, hold the mouse button down and then move the mouse curser to the end of the text to be selected.

That’s fine but if the text covers more than one screen it can get tricky. Here’s a much better way.

First, left click at the start of the text and release the mouse button. Then scroll down to the end of the text and left click again while holding down Shift key. All the text in between will be selected.

Try it now on this newsletter. Neat eh?

The same technique works well when selecting items on a list.

Incidentally, if you want to select or deselect individual items that aren’t consecutive, you can do that by using the Ctrl key when left clicking. But hey, that’s a fourth shortcut and I said I was only going to give you three :>) If you really want more, there’s a complete list here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/126449



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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2006-11-17: