Everyone likes to take a shortcut! There’s something very satisfying about being able to get there that little bit quicker than everyone else. The same applies to computers. Most of these handy shortcuts are what are known as “keyboard shortcuts”, usually combinations of keys to perform common tasks. There are a myriad of keyboard shortcuts, but let’s take a look at some of the more useful ones.
Cut and Paste
By far the most common shortcuts are the editing shortcuts (cut, copy and paste), which allows you to move information from one screen/location to another. In Microsoft Word, these can be found under the Edit menu or the Home tab on newer versions.
To use the keyboard shortcut, first highlight your text then hold down the Control Key (CTRL) and press X to cut the text i.e. CTRL+X. To copy text, use CTRL+C and to subsequently paste it’s CTRL+V.
These can be used on lots of different items and applications, not just Microsoft Word. You can cut-and-paste text, images and even files and folders from one location to another. Many applications will also allow you to right-click and select one of these options from a context-menu. Both are shortcuts, it’s just a matter of choice.
Some other very useful shortcuts while editing are CTRL+Z, to undo the last operation; CTRL+Y, to redo the last operation; CTRL+A, to select all in focused control or window and the lesser used ALT+E to bring up the edit menu. All of these shortcuts are available on a Linux computer using pretty much the same commands and on a Mac using the CMD ⌘ Command button instead of CTRL. Oh, don’t forget to save your file often using CTRL-S!
It’s sometimes really useful to get from one screen to another quickly and the fastest way to do this is using ALT+TAB (CMD+TAB on a Mac). This displays all open windows in small tiles and you can cycle through them by repeatedly pressing the Tab button while keeping ALT pressed. Simply release the keys when you see the window you want.
Sometimes we need to just grab a quick pic of the screen we are looking at. To facilitate this, there is a Print-Screen button on a PC, usually on the top right of the keyboard. This pops a full screen shot onto the clipboard that you can paste into say a Word file using CTRL+V. A handy twist on this is CTRL+ALT+Print-Screen, which takes a screen shot of the currently highlighted window, smaller and neater. On a Mac, the Print Screen shortcut is Shift+CMD+3, which drops the full screen on your desktop as an image file. The Mac has an even handier Shift+CMD+4, which allows you to click and drag a portion of the screen to capture and drops it on your desktop as a handy image file, similar to the PC’s “snipping tool” but much faster.
Enjoy taking a shortcut this week! Next week: the dangers of shortcuts!