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1) Accessing Characters and Commands on a Keyboard

Each key on a keyboard can have up to 5 different behaviours or commands. The normal behaviour for a key is to type a character, however keys can also be assigned actions such as printing. These additional behaviours are accessible by holding down one of four special keys (called modifier keys) first while pressing a normal key. The four modifier keys that access the alternative behaviours of a normal key are:

Modifier Key Key Identification Typical Use in Conjunction with Other Keys
Shift key Upward hollow arrow Typically used to access characters printed above the main key characters or a character's alternative case
Alternative key Alt Typically used to access a program's menu and its menu commands via the menu itself
Control key Ctrl Typically used to access menu commands directly for commands common to all or many programs
Windows key Windows logo Used to access the Windows operating system commands

The Alt Key

As mentioned above, the Alt key is typically used to access a program's (aka application) menu commands by activating the menu. To remember the main use of the Alt key, remember "A for Alt, A for application menu".
The Alt key pressed by itself activates a program's menu for subsequent access via the keys indicated by the main menu items' underlined letters, or via the four arrow navigation keys.
The Alt key pressed in conjunction with a letter accesses the program's main menu item as indicated by the underlined letter for that main menu item. To access sub-menu items, just independently press the underlined letter of the sub-menu item.

The Ctrl Key

As mentioned above, the Ctrl key is typically used for direct access to commands (i.e.without activating the program's menu) that are common to all or many programs. To remember the main use of the Ctrl key, remember "C for Ctrl, C for common commands".

Examples of Key Combinations

  • To access the percentage sign, hold down the Shift key and then press the 5 key on the main part of the keyboard (written SHIFT + 5)
  • To access the upper case letter R when the Caps Lock is off, hold down the Shift key and then press the R key (written SHIFT + R)
  • To access the lower case letter r when the Caps Lock is on, hold down the Shift key and then press the R key (written SHIFT + R)
  • To access a program's file menu, hold down the Alt key and then press the F key (written ALT + F)
  • To close a program, hold down the Alt key and then press the F4 key (written ALT + F4)
  • To access the document print function, hold down the Control key and then press the P key (written CTRL + P)

2) Windows and Windows Programs' Keyboard Shortcut Commands

All the commands for a program such as Microsoft Word are accessible through the program's menu. Some of these commands are also accessible via the program's various toolbars. Many of the commands also have a keyboard shortcut command to save time in switching from the keyboard to the mouse to access the menu or the toolbars.

There are standard keyboard shortcut commands that apply across most of Windows programs including the office suite of programs as well as Microsoft Windows itself. A useful selection of these keyboard shortcut commands are shown in the following table:

Action Keyboard Command Microsoft Windows Microsoft Office Programs
(e.g. Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
General Windows Actions
Help F1 yes yes
Select all items or document contents CTRL + A yes yes
Find CTRL + F yes yes
Print CTRL + P yes yes
Close a program ALT + F4 yes yes
Cycle through open programs (task bar items) ALT + Tab yes -
Open Windows Start menu WINKEY yes -
Show the Windows desktop WINKEY + D yes -
Open Windows Explorer WINKEY + E yes -
Lock the computer WINKEY + L yes -
Copying and Moving Actions
Cut CTRL + X ('scissors') yes yes
Copy CTRL + C yes yes
Paste CTRL + V yes yes
Undo Actions
Undo last action CTRL + Z yes yes
Redo last action CTRL + Y yes yes
Document Actions
Create new document CTRL + N - yes
Open existing document CTRL + O - yes
Save document CTRL + S - yes
Close a document CTRL + F4 - yes
Document Text Actions
Replace text CTRL + H - yes
Spell check document F7 - yes
Document Text Font Actions
Toggle bold font on and off CTRL + B - yes
Toggle italic font on and off CTRL + I - yes
Toggle font underline on and off CTRL + U - yes

If you require training in Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office or general Windows software, please get in touch.

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