Faster Fingers

If you want to get more work done in less time, stay tuned as Windows unveils a colossal collection of clever keys with which you can quickly access programs, documents, functions and much more…

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  September 1, 2006

|~||~||~|Although you may already be a quick worker, you can boost your productivity still further by using shortcut keys. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a super-sized shortcut key list. Nail these and you’ll be a keyboard convert in no time. The Windows key • Windows key (Win) opens and closes the Start menu • Win + M minimises all open windows • Shift + Win + M maximises all previously minimised windows • Win + Tab Use to cycle through items on the taskbar • Win + F opens the Windows Search/Find window • Win + E opens Windows Explorer • Win + R opens the Run dialog box • Win + Break/Pause opens System Properties window • Win + F1 opens Help and Support Centre • Win + L locks your workstation • Win + D displays the desktop area • Win + U launches Windows Utility Manager • Win + G opens Mozilla's Firefox browser • Win + F3 opens the 'Advanced Find' window in Microsoft Outlook • Win + Q allows for quick switching of users (only works with XP's Faster User Switcher powertoy).||**|||~||~||~|Shift your shortcuts • Shift when inserting a CD-ROM prevents the CD-ROM from automatically running • Shift + any arrow key selects more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or selects text in a document • Shift + Delete permanently deletes the selected item without placing it first in the Recycle Bin. ||**|||~||~||~|Take Control • Ctrl + A selects all the text in a document or e-mail • Ctrl + B bolds the selected text in a Word document • Ctrl + C copies a selected item • Ctrl + I italicises the selected text in a Microsoft Word document • Ctrl + P prints current page or active pane • Ctrl + X cuts selected item from a document • Ctrl +U underlines selected text in Word • Ctrl + V to pastes a copied item • Ctrl +W closes active window • Ctrl + Z cancels last change made to a document • Ctrl + Esc opens the Start menu • Ctrl + F4 lets you switch tabs in Firefox (or any other app featuring tabbed interfaces) • Ctrl + Shift (plus any arrow key) highlights a block of text • Ctrl + Shift + Esc opens Windows Task Manager • Ctrl (pressed while dragging an item) creates a copy of that particular item. ||**|||~||~||~|The Alt key • Alt + E edit options in current program (e.g. Microsoft Word or Outlook) • Alt + Tab lets you cycle through open windows • Alt + Tab + Shift cycles through these windows in reverse order • Pressing Alt in any program will prompt the software to underline keys that work with the software. For example, in Internet Explorer (IE) pressing Alt + T will open up the Tools menu. Similarly, pressing Alt + F in IE will open up the File Menu where as Alt + V will open up the ‘View’ Menu • Alt + Ctrl + Print Scrn copies active window to the clipboard. • Alt + down arrow opens up a drop-down list box. ||**|||~||~||~|The Function family F1 • Typically opens the ‘Help’ window of the app you're using F2 • Lets you rename a selected item or file • Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens a new document in MS Word • Ctrl + F2 opens Print Preview in Word F3 • Opens the Windows Search/Find window Shift + F3 will change cases in Word (i.e.from UPPER to lower case or vice versa) F4 • Alt + F4 closes the current active pane F5 • Refreshes the contents of a dialog box such as ‘Save’ • Opens the ‘Find and Replace’ dialog box in Word • Starts slideshow in MS PowerPoint • Refreshes Internet Explorer screen/page F6 • Highlights a website address in IE • F6 + Ctrl + Shift moves to another open document in Word F7 • Performs ‘Spell and Grammar’ check in Word or Outlook • When a word is highlighted, F7 + Shift accesses the thesaurus in Word F8 • Accesses ‘Boot’ mode when booting up your PC F9 • In Quark 5.0 this opens up the ‘Measurements’ toolbar F10 • F10 + Shift displays the selected item’s Shortcut menu F11 • In most browsers such as FireFox this key allows you to toggle back and forth between full screen and normal F12 • Ctrl + Shift + F12 prints a document in Word. ||**|||~||~||~|Another great way increase your productivity is by using a hot-key program. We suggest using Keyboard Launch Pad 1 (KPL) from (the trial version is on this month’s Windows CD). LaunchPad 1 allows you to quickly and easily assign hot-keys to launch programs, visit URLs, paste saved clipboards, control individual programs, perform system commands and more. (Note: the trial version of LaunchPad 1 only lets you create five hot keys so if you need more we recommend buying the full version available for just US $9.95). Once you’ve launched KPL, you’ll see the main configuration screen. The screen contains five preset apps, which you can assign hot-keys to. If the app you wish to create a hot-key for is not on the list, drag-and-drop apps or files into the list. To assign a hot-key to launch a certain URL, app or document, highlight the item in the main window list and click the ‘Assign’ button to the left of the app. To assign a hot key, simply press the shortcut on your keyboard and once it appears in the ‘Keyboard shortcut key’ field press OK (pic B). For instance, in pic B we assigned Ctrl +Shift + M to Notepad.) Now when we press Ctrl +Shift + M on our keyboard Notepad launches instantly. Note: if you assign an app a shortcut key such as Ctrl + C, which is already used in Word, then KPL will override the Ctrl + C functionality in Word. Thus, it’s advisable that you choose unique shortcuts such as Ctrl + Alt + L when assigning hot-keys. Prepare for launch If you want the Ctrl + Alt + R hot-key (or any hot-key for that matter) to do more than just launch one app, you can. For example, let’s say you’re a IT news buff and every morning you visit a trio of news sites. In this case, a good way to save time would be to have a certain hot key launch three of your favourite new sites, such as, and In this case, pressing Ctrl +Alt + R would launch these three websites at the same time. If you like listening to music while you surf, you can launch your music player such as WinAmp with this hot-key. Simply click on the web page (or your item of choice) and under ‘Under Actions to Perform on pressing this key:’ hit the ‘Add Action’ button. Next, click ‘Link (Shortcut or URL)’. Then, in the ‘Link’ field click the ‘Browse’ button and search for the program you wish to add. Once you’ve located the program, click OK. You’ll now see this action added to the ‘Under Actions to Perform on pressing this key:’ list. To add the website link, enter the web address in the Link field such as and press OK. Once you’re done adding actions, review them and press OK. ||**||

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