Friday, January 2, 2009

Tired of chasing your mouse? Use keyboard shortcuts

The mouse, one of the greatest advances in computing history, provides you with an intuitive point-and-click method for using your computer. Depending on the type of work you're doing, however, sometimes using a mouse actually slows you down. If you are a good typist, taking your hands away from the keyboard to move the mouse can use up a few seconds. Over the course of a full day, you could save several minutes by using keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse.

You can use your keyboard instead of your mouse to do these three tasks:

Start a program

Navigate menus

Minimize, maximize, and close windows

Start a program using a keyboard shortcut

The Start menu is great for finding programs, but its multiple levels of folders can be time consuming to navigate. If there is a program you start frequently, you should set a keyboard shortcut for it so that you can start the program without taking your hands off the keyboard.

To set a keyboard shortcut to start a program


Click the Start menu, and then click All Programs. Right-click the program that you want to start with a keyboard shortcut, and then click Properties.

Shortcut menu for a program with Properties selected


Click in the Shortcut key box. Now press the letter on your keyboard that you want to use to start the program. Make it easy to remember—for example, press I for Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Note: You can use either uppercase or lowercase letters when creating your keyboard shortcuts—and when accessing them later. In the Shortcut key box, Microsoft Windows XP automatically adds Ctrl + Alt + before the key you pressed. When you want to start the program, hold down both the CTRL and ALT keys simultaneously, while also pressing the letter you chose. This way, your program won't start every time you type that letter.

Properties window for specified program with Shortcut tab displayed and Shortcut key box indicated


Click OK.

Properties window for specified program with Shortcut tab displayed and OK button selected


Now test your shortcut. Hold down the CTRL and ALT keys, and then press the letter you chose. If you find it difficult to hold down two keys at once, read Turn on the Sticky Keys feature. Your program should start.

Pressing shortcut keys

When your friends see you start up programs without touching your mouse, they just might think you have a psychic connection with your computer!

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