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:

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