Clicking things with the mouse is the main way we get our computers to do things. Click the print button and the computer prints. Click the Start Button and the start menu opens. Click the Copy Command and whatever you have selected copies to the clip board. You get the picture.
But did you know that most of the commands that we use on a regular basis have a keyboard combination that will accomplish the same thing? Sure clicking the command works, but if it's a command that you use over and over again moving the mouse up to the menu where the clickable command is located can take time. Learning the keyboard shortcuts for certain tasks can help speed things up in the long run.
Let's start with three of my favorites: Copy, Cut and Paste. Now I know I've covered these three commands in the past, but I'll go over them again real quick. When you have something that you want to copy from one place to another copy and paste are two commands that can make that happen. For instance, let's say someone emailed you their updated phone number and you want to enter it in your address book. You could look at the number and then manually type the new number in the address book, but what fun is that? Use copy and paste to do things with just a couple of clicks by first highlighting the new number in your email and then click the "Copy" command located in your email programs tool bar. Next, open your address book and find your friends entry. Click the phone number field and go up to your address books tool bar and click the "Paste" command and the new phone number auto-magically pops into the phone number field and you've just updated the number without typing it in.
But with keyboard shortcuts we can make that process even quicker. The keyboard shortcuts for Copy, Cut and Paste are "Ctrl + C" for Copy, "Ctrl + X" for Cut and "Ctrl + V" for paste.
In our example, we would first highlight the new phone number in the email message and then press and hold the "Ctrl" (control) button and then press "C." Then, we move over to the address book, find our friends entry, click the phone number field and (again) press and hold "Ctrl" and then press "V." All four keys are very close to each other on the keyboard and if you have a lot of things to copy and paste, these shortcuts can save you a lot of time.
Another keyboard shortcut that I find myself using is "Ctrl + Esc." Try it and you'll have the Windows Start Menu open up and you can then use the up and down arrows on the keyboard to highlight different commands. Highlight an icon you want to run and hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard and you'll get the same result as you would if you had clicked start, then scrolled and clicked an icon. This trick is handy when the mouse inexplicably stops working.
Another keyboard shortcut works great when you encounter a website with text so small you need a magnifier to read it. Press and hold "Ctrl" again but this time press "+" or "-" to increase or decrease the text size. Surfing the internet isn't much fun when you can't read the web pages, Ctrl + or - gives you a way to quickly bump things up a little or even shrink things down, which can be handy to get rid of those annoying horizontal scroll bars.
Let's see, "Ctrl + P" sends whatever you are looking at to the printer, "Ctrl + S" will save whatever you are working on and "Alt + F4" will close whatever program is running or even shut the computer down if all the programs are already closed.
Learning the different keyboard shortcuts may seem like a pain but it's pretty easy. To find out if a command you use frequently has a keyboard shortcut, just look at the command in a pull-down menu. For instance, if you go to the "Edit" pull-down menu at the top of your screen and look at the Copy, Cut and Paste commands, you'll see the keyboard shortcuts spelled out right next to each command. Learn to pay attention to these clues and before long they will be second nature.
Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at (888) 752-9049 or help@ComputeThisOnline.com (no hyphens).