Knowledgebase: Misc. Tech Tips
Navigate Windows Without Your Mouse
Posted by Clarke M on 03 April 2006 08:53 PM
This week's tech tip is some hints for how to avoid using that little white rodent. The mouse is a great interface, but the keyboard can be so much faster when working on certain documents. You do not have to reach your hand over to the mouse, drag the cursor, click the button, etc. This just slows you down, especially in applications such as word processing and graphics. With one quick press of a CTRL-key combination, you can perform a multitude of commands that would take many mouse clicks.

A lot of applications have their own programmable hotkeys. For instance, I do a lot of audio recording. When I am tracking, I use the "normalise" function quite frequently. If I were to use the mouse, it would involve highlighting the WAV file, dragging the mouse to the top of the screen, clicking on the Edit menu, clicking on Audio, then clicking on Normalise. This is not a huge chore, but it takes a few seconds. The way I have it set up now makes it a lot easier. I will finish recording my track and then just hit CTRL-N. I programmed this key combo within my recording application to normalise a WAV file when this combination of keys is pressed.

Since every application can have their own custom hotkeys, I will just go over the basic ones. You can discover ones created for your specific application by going through its help files, or even by exploring the menus at the top. Most of the time, the corresponding hotkey is printed right next to the function that you would be clicking on.

Here is a list of very common Windows hotkeys. There are more, but these ones get the most usage. Memorizing these can speed up your productivity greatly!

CTRL and A - Selects all the items in the active window.
CTRL and C - Copies the item or items to the Clipboard (paste using CTRL and V.)
CTRL and F - Displays the Find all files dialog box.
CTRL and G - Displays the Go to folder dialog box.
CTRL and N - Displays the New dialog box.
CTRL and O - Displays the Open dialog box.
CTRL and P - Displays the Print dialog box.
CTRL and S - Displays the Save dialog box.
CTRL and V - Pastes the copied item or items from the Clipboard.
CTRL and X - Cuts the item or items selected to the Clipboard.
CTRL and Z - Undoes the last action.
CTRL and F4 - Closes the active document window.
CTRL while dragging an item - Copy the selected item
CTRL+SHIFT with arrow keys - Highlight a block of text
CTRL+F4 - Close the active document
CTRL+ESC - Display the Start menu
CTRL and F6 - Opens the next document window in the active application.

ALT+ENTER - View the properties for the selected item
ALT+F4 - Close the active item, or quit the active program
ALT+SPACEBAR - Open the shortcut menu for the active window
ALT+TAB - Switch between the open items
ALT+ESC - Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened

F1 key - Gives help on the active window or selected item.
F2 key - Rename the selected item
F3 key - Search for a file or a folder
F4 key - Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer
F5 key - Update the active window
F6 key - Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop
F10 key - Activate the menu bar in the active program

Windows Logo - Display or hide the Start menu
Windows Logo+BREAK - Display the System Properties dialog box
Windows Logo+D - Display the desktop
Windows Logo+M - Minimize all of the windows
Windows Logo+SHIFT+M - Restore the minimized windows
Windows Logo+E - Open My Computer
Windows Logo+F - Search for a file or a folder
CTRL+Windows Logo+F - Search for computers
Windows Logo+F1 - Display Windows Help
Windows Logo+ L - Lock the keyboard
Windows Logo+R - Open the Run dialog box
Windows Logo+U - Open Utility Manager

Here are some hotkeys for navigating dialogue boxes:

TAB Move forward through the options
SHIFT+TAB - Move backward through the options
CTRL+TAB - Move forward through the tabs
CTRL+SHIFT+TAB - Move backward through the tabs
ALT+Underlined letter - Perform the corresponding command or select the corresponding option
ENTER - Perform the command for the active option or button
SPACEBAR - Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box
F1 key - Display Help
F4 key - Display the items in the active list
Arrow keys - Select a button if the active option is a group of option buttons
BACKSPACE - Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box.

And finally, some hotkeys for Windows Explorer (the list of files and folders that you see when browsing for a file):

END - Display the bottom of the active window
HOME - Display the top of the active window
NUM LOCK+Asterisk sign (*) - Display all of the subfolders that are under the selected folder
NUM LOCK+Plus sign (+) - Display the contents of the selected folder
NUM LOCK+Minus sign (-) - Collapse the selected folder
LEFT ARROW - Collapse the current selection if it is expanded, or select the parent folder
RIGHT ARROW - Display the current selection if it is collapsed, or select the first subfolder

Now you have the power to avoice the mouse and speed up your work!

Also handy for navigating Windows if your mouse is broken, dirty, missing, being eaten by the cat, etc.
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