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Keyboard Shortcuts that make you live longer

Formatting commands are best entered as you type, not by using the point and click method with the mouse. If you know you are going to need the word "know" in bold type, you type:

...if you <Ctrl B> know <ctrlB> you are going to need...

It's a good idea to use your little finger (of the left hand) for the Ctrl button, and your thumb for the Alt one. Keyboards are sensitive, and using them skillfully needs practice - there is a technique to using a computer keyboard, just as there is a technique to playing the piano.

<CTRL + F> means:

  • Hold down the Ctrl button (with the little finger of your left hand)
  • Keeping it held down, press the relevant (see table below) letter on the keyboard ONCE, QUICKLY - just tap it.
  • Release the Ctrl key.

<ALT + A + A> means

  • Hold down the ALT button (with your left thumb)
  • Keeping it held down, press A and then A again (without releasing the ALT button in between)

<SHIFT + CTRL + N> meas

  • Hold the SHIFT and CTRL keys down together (using your fourth and fifth fingers)
  • Keeping SHIFT & CTRL depressed, press N

This is not geeky stuff for nerds. This is a way of ensuring that you have more time to spend with other human beings, by spending less time pointing at pictures on a computer screen. It's about speeding up a process by keeping information in your head, rather than relying on information in the world (for more about this concept, read Donald Norman's book, The Design of Everyday Things. You wouldn't think of teaching dance after three years by holding up a pictures from The Foundations of Classical Ballet before every exercise, nor do you have a copy of the Highway Code on your lap while you're driving.

Download this table as a Word document

CTRL+F FIND. Also useful for big webpages where you want to find a word in 35 pages of drivel
CTRL+A Select all
CTRL+C Copy selected text
CTRL + X Cut selected text
CTRL + V Paste what you just copied by pressing Ctrl C
CTRL + Z UNDO what you just did – your best friend!
CONTROL +Y UNDO what’s just been UNDONE, or redo what you’ve just done 
CTRL+E Make text centered on the page for titles, etc. (Undo with Ctrl+L)
CTRL+R Make text right-aligned (undo with Ctrl+L)
CTRL+L Make text left-aligned (useful for undoing centering or right-justification)
CTRL+B Make text BOLD
CTRL + I Make text ITALIC
CTRL + ALT + N Make all your text absolutely normal – no indents, no bold, no bullets etc.
CTRL + Shift + L Make bullet points
CTRL+Shift+< or > Increases or decreases font size of your selected text
CTRL + T Make a hanging indent – i.e. in a numbered list, you tab from the number to the first line to indent. To indent all other lines in the same paragraph to the same place, press Ctrl+T anywhere in the paragraph.
CTRL + Shift + T Undo a hanging indent – i.e. put it back one tab stop. 
CTRL+ENTER Insert page break. By the way, you can only delete a page break in NORMAL view, which you get by pressing ALT+VN. To return to Print View, press ALT+VP
CTRL+P Print
CTRL+ O Open file
CTRL+S Save file
ALT+ IS Insert a symbol (funny character that isn’t on your keyboard)
Ctrl + Arrow Moves cursor back/forward one WORD at a time
SHIFT + Ctrl+ Arrow Selects one word at a time, backwards or forwards of the cursor
Home/End Moves cursor to beginning or end of line
Shift+Home/End Selects all text back to the beginning of line/to the end of the line
SHIFT+Up or Down arrow Selects text a line at a time
Updated Sunday November 11, 2001 4:29 PM


© Jonathan Still 2001 You may quote from these pages, but if your selection includes a reference I have made to someone else's work, please make sure that the attribution is clear. By not doing so, you may implicate me in plagiarism.