Saturday, February 20, 2016

Windows Shortcut Keys

This post is about some useful computer tricks for PC’s.  Apologies to Mac users.

A few weeks ago, I was doing some computer work with someone.  I've done a lot of computer programming in my life, and I initially came to university to study computer science (switching away from the music program at the last second).  However, despite that background, the guy that I was working with is a whole lot smarter than I am when it comes to computers.

However, as I was watching him do something, he had to minimize about eight windows at one point so he could see the desktop of the laptop that he was working on.  I was surprised by this, because he usually does things very quickly and efficiently.  I said, “Did you know that you can hold down the ‘flying window’ key in the left corner, and press the letter D, and the desktop will appear automatically?”  He didn’t.  At that point, I figured that I should make a list of useful keyboard shortcuts that people would find useful.  Of course, there are already lists on the internet, because Windows comes with almost one hundred built in short-cuts.   However, I’m just going to make a “short list” of about a dozen of the most useful short-cuts here:

CTRL-S:  “Save” a file.  I do this automatically about every two minutes when I'm working on something, although to be honest computers are about a hundred times more reliable than they were twenty years ago (before modern-day internet and email, if you can imagine that kind of a horrible, archaic society).

CTRL-P:  “Print” a file.  Yes, most of these commands can also be found in the menu bar at the top of the screen with just two mouse clicks, but if your hands are already on the keyboard and you know how to type properly, it is far faster to use the shortcuts than to move your hand over to the mouse.

CTRL-Z:  “Undo” last command.  This doesn’t always work, and some programs have stranger combinations, like SHIFT-CTRL-Z to do an Undo.  But it does work in a ton of programs.  And CTRL-Y often is a "re-do" last command, if you change your mind after an undo.  I use these all the time in programs from people like Abobe, or in Word or Excel docs.

CTRL-C:  “Copy” whatever is highlighted on the screen.

CTRL-V:  “Paste” whatever is highlighted on the screen. And by the way, can someone tell me why the letter “V” stands for “paste”??

Of course, the three most common formatting commands (Bold, Italic, and Underline) can all be done with a short-cut.  Just highlight your selection and hit either CTRL-B, CTRL-I, or CTRL-U respectively.  And these same commands, of course, also work as a toggle, so you can turn them on then type a little bit, then turn them back off.

FlyingWindow-E:  Brings up Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer).  I love this short-cut; perhaps my favorite.

FlyingWindow-D:  Brings up the Desktop, as mentioned above.  Also useful.  Strangely, FlyingWindow-M does the same thing, I think, because it means “Minimize” all open windows.  Maybe there's a distinction, but I can’t think of it.

FlyingWindow-R:  Brings up the “Run” dialog, which normally is accessed by going to “start” then to “run.”  This is mostly only useful for the real nerds.  I don’t even use it (well, not much).

FlyingWindow-C:  If you have “IntelliType” turned on, this brings up the Control Panel.  Useful, except that I don’t have IntelliType turned on.

Of course, there are several dozen more, but they start to get pretty esoteric. For a decent list, check this out:  (scroll down the page a bit, past the notice about support for winXP having ended).

And before I stop, I’ll mention one last shortcut that makes me laugh.  Windows just wouldn’t be itself without lots of features that are completely nonsensical and redundant.  If you have IntelliType turned on, and do a “FlyingWindow-S” it will toggle the caps lock on and off.  Why you would want to do that instead of just hitting the caps lock key itself (which is already under your left pinky) is beyond me.  Maybe it’s just a way of giving your fingers some extra exercise, although I can think of better ways to do that.

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