Think about how many times you use your mouse. Opening and closing programs and documents or navigating your way through menus to use commands usually require you to move the mouse pointer and click. This not only takes time, but repeated use of themouse has also been linked to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Thankfully there is a solution — keyboard shortcuts. Pressing a combination of keys to action commands is not only quicker than using a mouse, it helps alleviate RSI and also has the handy side effect of making you look like a computer expert. In this Workshop, we’ll show you how to find your way around your computer quickly, teaching you some of themost useful shortcuts that can be used in Vista and a variety of other programs.
Finding your way around your PC is easy when you know the right shortcuts. For example, when you next want to get to the Start menu to access a recently opened program or the Control Panel, just press the Windows key (the one with the Windows flag on it between Ctrl and Alt). Want to access something on your Desktop without wasting time minimising open windows? Simply press the Windows key and D. You can also go straight to Windows Explorer by pressing the Windows key and E. Not sure what your PC’s specifications are? Press the Windows key and Pause to go straight to System, which has all the information you need.
Surfing the web with documents and programs open at the same time can result in lots of windows on your screen. Keyboard shortcuts can help you keep them in order. Press Alt and Tab, and hold the Alt key down. Thumbnails of all your open windows will appear in the middle of the screen. With the Alt key held down, press Tab to scroll through the windows.When your required window is selected, release Alt to bring it on screen in its full size. To see the same results in 3D, press the Windows key and Tab, keeping the Windows key held down. Press Tab to scroll, and release the Windows key when the window you want appears.
Some keyboard shortcuts can be used in lots of programs. You can cut a piece of text from, say, a word processing program such as Word, or an email message or web page, and paste it into another document — useful if you want to share something in an email to friends. To do this, first use your mouse to select the text and then press Ctrl and C to copy it. Next, use the keyboard shortcuts in Tip 2 to find the window you want to paste the text into, then use your mouse to select where you want it to go and press Ctrl and V to paste it. You can also cut the text by pressing Ctrl and X, then paste it by pressing Ctrl and V, as before.
Another useful shortcut is Ctrl and Z. This undoes the previous command — handy if you have unwittingly deleted some text. Changed your mind? Press Ctrl and Y to redo the action. Ctrl and N will open a new document in whichever program you are in, saving you the trouble of clicking File and then New. Want to print your work? Press Ctrl and P. If you use the internet regularly, then the F5 key is your friend. This refreshes a web page, which can be useful if you are waiting for, say, the latest football results or want to read someone’s response to your post on a message board.
Some shortcuts are specific to Vista. For instance, when using the Windows Photo Gallery, you can move to the Fix pane by selecting your image, then pressing Ctrl and F. Once there, you can rotate the picture clockwise by pressing Ctrl and . (full stop). To rotate it anti-clockwise, press Ctrl and , (comma). You can zoom in and out of the picture by pressing the + and - keys. The next time you are editing video footage in Windows Movie Maker, save time by pressing I to start a cut and O to end it. To move forward a frame, press L; to move back a frame, J. To rewind footage to the last cut, press Home.
You can create your own keyboard shortcuts. This comes in useful if there’s a programyou open regularly, as it will save you navigating your way through the Start menu. Press the Windows key to open the Start menu, then find the program you want to create a shortcut to. Right-click it and select Properties from the menu. In the Properties box that appears, select the Shortcut tab. The panel next to Shortcut Key will say ‘None’. Click in this panel. Next, press the combination of letters you want to be your shortcut — the combination will appear in the Shortcut Key panel. Next, click OK > Continue > Continue again. Press your keyboard shortcut and the program will open.