|Learning About Computers and the Internet|
Some ways are given to use the keyboard to carry out certain Windows functions quickly.
Although most of us think of the mouse as the main means of sending commands to the computer, the keyboard can be just as effective and often is a faster method. For example, when you are already typing something, switching back and forth between mouse and keyboard can slow you down considerably. Of course, a hindrance to using the hundreds of different keyboard shortcuts is the practical fact that few people are going to want to have to remember a whole lot of different combinations of keystrokes. Thus, the best way to take advantage of the keyboard shortcuts is to remember a few of the most useful ones for your particular applications and computer usage patterns. Also, it doesn’t hurt to know a few emergency escape routes for those occasions when the mouse freezes.
There are a great variety of keyboard shortcuts and I will mention only a few that I personally find useful. The Internet abounds with lists of shortcuts. Microsoft has a resource where you can look up shortcuts for Microsoft products including Vista and IE 7. The site even includes references for Windows 95 and Office 97.
These days many keyboards come with special shortcut keys. Depending on which brand of computer you have, these keys can have functions such as dialing up your Internet provider. Most of these special keys are proprietary and vary from computer to computer but one special key that is very common is the Windows key. This is the key with the Windows flag logo, usually located between Ctrl and Alt. (Because of space restraints, laptops may not have this key.) I find that many people do not know what this key is for and it is often ignored. However, there are some useful shortcuts involving the key. Some of these are tabulated below. Each key listed is to be combined with pressing the Windows key.
Alt and Ctrl keys
There are a number of shortcuts that involve using either the Ctrl or the Alt key together with a second key. Some are listed below. Probably everybody knows the three-finger salute, Ctrl+Alt+Del, but it is so useful that I would be remiss not to mention it anyway. This action brings up the Task Manager, which shows running processes. It is a way to stop frozen programs or to close down Windows if there is a problem.
PrintScreen or PrtScr key
Do you ever wish you could make a screen-shot of an open window on your computer? Using the Print Screen key doesn’t print but it will send an image of the desktop to the Clipboard accessory. If you only want a picture of the active window and not the whole desktop, use the combination Alt +Print Screen. After the image is stored in the Clipboard, it can then be pasted into any graphics program and saved as a graphics file. Microsoft Word can also be used. If you lack a graphics program, the Windows accessory Paint can be used.
Keyboard combinations with the Mouse
There are some operations that are worth remembering that combine both mouse and keyboard actions. Some of the most useful combine the Shift key with a mouse action. When deleting a file, holding down the Shift key will bypass the recycle bin and simply delete. If a file of interest is first selected, the Shift key is held down, and then a right-click is made, the context menu will have the additional action "Open with..." When working with text, the quickest way to select a block of text is to place the mouse pointer at the beginning of the block that is of interest, hold down the Shift key, and click the mouse at the end of the block to be selected. If you have a bunch of windows open and want to close them all at once, hold down the Shift key and close the last window that was opened by clicking the "Close" button in its upper right corner. All open windows should then close.
Drag-and-drop activities can also be modified by using the mouse in combination with a key. Using the left mouse button to drag-and-drop can be confusing because the dragged object is sometimes moved and sometimes copied, depending on the circumstances. In fact, sometimes the object is neither moved nor copied but just a shortcut is made. Using the right mouse button to drag-and-drop gets around the possible confusion by giving you a menu of choices but you can also use the left mouse button together with a keyboard action to ensure a particular action. To always move a file, hold down the Shift key while dragging with the left mouse button. To copy instead, hold down the Ctrl key while dragging.
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