Saturday, June 20, 2015

Keyboard Shortcuts - Highlghting or Selecting with or without the Mouse

Pursuant to last week's tips on moving around with the keyboard, I want to add "selecting without a mouse." This can be very helpful if you are dealing with small text (and so the mouse seems like a clumsy way of selecting) or if you work on a laptop with a touchpad or if you just want to be specific in what you highlight.

Highlighting is the first step in many processes: deleting, overwriting (you don't have to actually delete what you've highlighted, you can simply begin to type and it will wipe out the highlighting in favor of your typing), moving or copying with the mouse or with cut/copy & paste, changing font or paragraph formatting, etc.

As always, I don't expect you to incorporate all of these into your daily computering... but try one or two to see if they will help you as much as they've helped me!

Using the Mouse 

Let's first look at some shortcuts to highlighting using the mouse:
  • Double-click = highlight a single word
  • Triple-click = highlight a paragraph
  • Ctrl+click = highlight one sentence
When you are highlighting a list of items (e-mails, files), then you can choose to highlight:
  • Non-adjacent (not together) items = CTRL+click, click, click, click, until you have highlighted all the items you want.
  • Adjacent items (all in a row) = Highlight the first in the series, then hold down SHIFT and click on the last in the series. Your computer will highlight everything in between, including the two that you clicked on.

Using the Keyboard

Using the 'moving around' information from last week's post, you can add SHIFT as you navigate around using the keyboard, and your computer will highlight. For instance:
  • SHIFT+RightArrow = highlight one character at a time to the right.
  • SHIFT+DownArrow = highlight one line at a time, going down.
  • SHIFT+PgDn = highlights everything on the screen.
  • SHIFT+End = highlights everything from the cursor to the end of the line.

You can also add CTRL to the SHIFT+. For instance:
  • SHIFT+CTRL+RightArrow = highlight one word at a time to the right.
  • SHIFT+CTRL+DownArrow = highlight one paragraph at a time, going down.
  • SHIFT+CTRL+PgDn = highlights everything on the page (not just the screen).
  • SHIFT+CTRL+END= highlight where the cursor was to the end of the document.
You can look back to last week's navigation tips to remind yourself of keyboard movements. Just add SHIFT to any movement to highlight instead of just moving.

Happy Computering!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Keyboard Shortcuts - moving selection point (I-beam)

Since taking a class in "Using Windows without a Mouse" back in the 90's, I have found several of the keyboard tricks I learned to be extremely helpful. For those who type fast (or who type slowly), taking your hands off the keyboard to perform as task is inefficient and slows you down (even if you're slow to begin with)! And the selection key combinations have helped me the most.

As always, I don't expect you to incorporate all of these into your daily computering... but try one or two to see if they will help you as much as they've helped me!

Moving the Selection Point (the I-Beam, cursor, pointer, typing thingy)

When I am typing and editing my work (especially in Word), I often go backwards to correct or add something and then want to get back to where I left off. Or, I want to go to the end of my document and start something new; or to the beginning of my document to add something there. I want to move down just one paragraph, or to the end of the line. The keys below are my friend:

Left arrow or Right arrow = one character    Ctrl + L/R arrow = one word at a time
Up arrow or Down arrow = one line               Ctrl + U/D arrow = one paragraph at a time
PgUp or PgDn = one screen at a time            Ctrl+PgUp or Ctrl+PgDn = one page at a time
Home = beginning of line                                Ctrl+Home = beginning of document
End = end of line                                              Ctrl+End = end of document
Your arrow keys are most helpful for moving the selection point (that straight up-and-down line that marks where you'll begin to type).


  • The right arrow key moves you one character at a time to the right. The left arrow key moves to the left one character at a time. (You can hold down to go fast, but that's not efficient; see later tricks for better ways to move.)
  • Hold down CTRL while you press either left or right arrow keys, and you will move one word at a time. I use this one the most!


  • The Up arrow key moves you up one line at a time. The Down arrow key moves down one line at a time. (You can hold down to go fast, but that's not efficient; see later tricks for better ways to move.)
  • Hold down CTRL while you press either Up or Down arrow keys, and you will move one paragraph at a time up or down.  I also use this one a bunch, especially when typing long papers!

Page or Screen at a time

This distinction is actually really important to grasp. Using the keyboard shortcuts will actually MOVE the insertion point (I-beam, cursor, pointer, thingy-that-shows-where-you'll-start-to-type) - when you are in applications that allow you to type. This makes a HUGE difference in Word; no difference on the Internet.
  • The PgUp/PgDn keys are labeled incorrectly. They really should say "Screen Up / Screen Down" because they only take you one screen at a time. However, back in the day before WYSIWYG (who remembers that?) and then Windows, one screen equaled one page (usually). Enough history - here's how to use them!
  • Pressing the PgUp or PgDn key will result in your computer moving up or down through the content ENOUGH TO FILL ONE SCREEN. This is a wonderful way to browse or read things on your computer. If you just use your arrow keys, then you generally go to far or not far enough. Same is true with the scroll bar. However,  PgDn will take you exactly ONE SCREEN further in your reading. So, the last sentence you saw will become the first sentence on the new screen. No wondering if you missed anything or are reading something again! I use PgDn exclusively when I'm reading a document, whether in Word or on the Internet.
  • What is wonderful when reading is no so great when typing a paper in Word. What we often want to check out is one page at a time, and PgDn only goes one screen. Ugh! Fortunately, you can just hold down CTRL while you press PgDn (or PgUp) and you will move your cursor to the top the next (or previous) page!

Beginnings and Ends

Lastly, we use the Home and End keys to move our pointers quickly from one place to another.
  • Pressing HOME will bring you to the beginning of the line you are currently on. Pressing END will bring you to the end of the line you are currently on.
  • Pressing CTRL+HOME will bring you to the beginning of  document, while CTRL+END takes you to the end of your whole document. I use these very often!
So, try to incorporate these into your regular computering - you'll thank me for the time saved (once you get used to it!)

Happy Computering!

PS Have you discovered how important that little CTRL button can be? Here's a reminder:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

What is the "Windows" button for?

Since the start of "Windows" in the early 1990's, keyboards have been made with an extra Windows key (usually located between the ALT and CTRL keys... more about those later). What's it for? Here are some shortcuts that you can use in your computering that make use of the Windows key!

I do not expect that you will incorporate all of these shortcuts into your computering habits. In fact, you may not use any of them! But, keyboard shortcuts are very handy and can make your computering more efficient and faster (by not having to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to accomplish a task). At the very least, it will answer the question "what is this key for?"

When using multiple keys for a function, I like to press and hold down the first button with one finger, and then I use another finger (preferably on another hand) to press the second key. You don't need to hold down the second key, just a press will do it. When you've accomplished the task, then let go of both!

Open the Start Menu: WINDOWS

To open the Start Menu (at the lower left of your screen, which shows all your programs) without having to click with your mouse, simply press the WINDOWS key by itself.

Minimize Everything: WINDOWS+M (OR WINDOWS+D for "Desktop")

Press and hold down WINDOWS key and press the M key to minimize every application that is open. It will take you right back to the desktop, without closing any of your open programs. If you use WINDOWS+D, you can toggle back and forth from your desktop to your initial view.

Lock your Computer: WINDOWS+L

If you want to Lock your computer, making sure that no one uses it when you step away, press and hold down the Windows key and press L. In Windows 7, it will bring up a screen where you can press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and then log in with the username and password you enter when Windows starts up. In Windows 8, it will take you to the beginning screen where you can press ENTER and then enter your password. This DOES NOT log out your username. It simply locks the screen, and when you input your password, you are right back where you left off!

Open File Explorer: WINDOWS+E

This action opens the program called "File Explorer," (sometimes called "My Computer") where you can see and manipulate the actual files on your storage devices. Careful in here! You can delete or move some important things! Be sure to only work with your own data!

Open a Program from your Taskbar: WINDOWS+it's number from the left

When you have pinned applications to your Taskbar (at the bottom), this makes them quick to open (just a single click), and because your taskbar is always visible (unless you purposely hide it) then you can click to open your taskbar programs at any time! If you don't want to use your mouse for this purpose, then count from the left after the Start Menu. The number you count is the number to press to open this application. For instance, this is a picture of my current taskbar.
See that the Start Menu is on the very left side (looks like a window). My first program on the taskbar is Internet Explorer (the blue 'e'). The second program is File Explorer (the folder). The third program is PowerPoint. The fourth program is Word, etc. If I want to open Word from the keyboard, I can press WINDOWS+4, since for my taskbar, Word is the 4th program from the Start Menu. I know this is a lot to think of just now, but truly this is a time-saver for those who are keyboard oriented!

Maximize the Current Window: WINDOWS+UP ARROW

Remember when we learned about the Maximize and Restore buttons? (Check your notes for the "Intro to Windows" class.) Here's a quick review: in the upper right corner of each window are three small boxes. The box to the right has an X, and clicking it will close that window. The box to the left has a _, and clicking it will minimize that window. The box in the middle shows a square. This box will maximize the window. If it's already maximized, then this box will restore it. (Restored size is something between taking up the whole window (maximized) and minimized.) Using the keyboard combination of WINDOWS+UP ARROW accomplishes the same task as clicking the middle box with your mouse. It will either maximize or restore the current window.