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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Keyboard Shortcuts Part 1

Nearly every modern day computer Operating System and most programs within them, have built in keyboard shortcuts. The Microsoft Windows Operating systems from Windows XP and newer contains a set of over 100 shortcuts, many of which have become the standards in the industry.

Today I will be covering 6 shortcuts that I believe will help most users get through their computer day with a little more ease.


All of the shortcuts I will talk about today involve use of the Control Button. This button usually has the text ‘ctrl’ written on it and is usually located in two places: the very bottom left hand button on your keyboard and close to the bottom right of the letter keys section. Basically, they are 2-4 keys in either direction of the spacebar. Either can be used.

To use the shortcuts, we will be hitting the ctrl key and another key at the same time, I will indicate this in the following format: Ctrl + A

Ctrl + A - ‘Select All’
Within your current working document or window, if you use this shortcut it will select everything. By ‘select’ we refer to highlight. In the case of a normal text document, like an email, it will select all of the text and any images within the email. In a Window, like ‘My Pictures’ it will select all of the files within the folder.

You will find that every application will use this differently, but in general it does as it is entitled, selects all. This function is very handy if you need to copy or move the selected items to a new location: for example, I often copy articles from websites and save them in a text document (Microsoft Word) so that I can read them later.

Ctrl + C - ‘Copy’
I think we have all used the ‘Copy’ function at one point or another. Usually via right clicking the mouse and selecting copy. This is the exact same thing, but you may find that it is faster and easier to press ctrl + c than it is to right click and select copy.

Ctrl + V - ‘Paste’
Copy’s favorite partner, Paste. Once again, if you have ever copied something, chances are that you had right clicked and chosen Paste as well. As with ‘Copy’, many find that ctrl + v is faster than using the mouse, especially if you used the keyboard shortcut for copy, as your fingers are basically already in place.


Ctrl + X - ‘Cut’
Another familiar function for most of you; ‘Cut’ Operates exactly the same as ‘Copy’, with the exception that ‘Cut’ deletes the original item, essentially ‘moving’ it to the new location. You may find that in many places ‘Cut’ does not work. This is based on user permissions: for example, web sites are protected content, you will not be able to delete the content, therefore, the ‘Cut’ function will not work.

Ctrl + F - ‘Find’
You may find (pun intended) that the ‘Find’ function is something you will never use. But I will ask you to give it a try. The next time you are working in a large document or large web page and you need to find a specific word or phrase, press ctrl + f. In most applications, a window will pop up, now type in the word or phrase that you are looking for and select ‘Find’ or ‘Find Next’ (many different terms are used). You will be instantly directed to the next instance of the chosen word or phrase within the document.

A good example of where this may come in handy is if you have a letter that you send to your clients that you manually type in the client’s name before printing. If the slot for their name exists in several places within the document, you can use ‘Find’ to quickly navigate to those spots in the document.

Ctrl + H - ‘Find and Replace’
In ‘Find’, I described an example in which you have a document that has several instances of a client’s name that you want to replace with a new client’s name; this is where ctrl + H can come in handy. ‘Find and Replace’ will operate very similarly to ‘Find’ with the added functionality of being able to replace the chosen word or phrase with a new word or phrase.

At this time, ctrl + h is not as widely supported as many other keyboard shortcuts, but should operate in most of your standard word processing programs.