||In today’s high speed, fast paced IT
environment, it’s important to be able to work quickly, and efficiently.
To do this, you should learn how to use both the keyboard and the mouse
simultaneously to do many tasks, such as ‘finding a computer on your
network’ all the way to X with nothing but a quick and simple keystroke.
This article’s learning exercises not only build up speed, and help you be
efficient and more productive, but will also help you take the pressure
off working with one hand, now you can work with two.|
For a complete guide
to security, check out 'Security+ Study Guide and DVD Training System' from Amazon.com
In all the systems and computer related classes I have ever taught, or all
the classes I have ever taken, learning how to manipulate the keyboard and the
mouse at the same time (of just use the keyboard without a mouse in case one is
not present) has been one of the most underrated (and least used) features of
the system. Keyboard shortcuts are skills we can all use and they only serve a
helpful purpose if they can be recalled quickly. This article's mission is to
quickly teach you these shortcuts, remind you of them or just provide a handy
chart for you to follow if you need a reference.
Let's learn how to use the 15 top most commonly used Windows XP
15 Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts
To take advantage of this drill, you should be comfortable using a keyboard,
otherwise the speed you want to increase will be taken away by you not being
entirely sure where a certain key is, so it helps to be familiar with the
First, take a good look at your keyboard and be familiar with the layout.
Most of you will have something similar to the illustration seen here as this is
a standard 101 key keyboard layout.
Laptop users may
have the same keys on their systems, but in different places so take a second
to familiarize yourself with key placement before you begin the exercise. If
you have something similar, then you will be fine. Many peripheral vendors
added a lot to their keyboards, such as multimedia options and so on.
Tip 1: Quickly Accessing the Start Menu
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key
If you are just plan old ‘sick and tired’ of using the mouse to click on the
infamous button to display the Windows Start Menu, then you simply only need to
hit the ‘Windows’ Key. Using either or (there are usually two of them, one
on a laptop keyboard) so you can use either or. The Windows key once
pressed will launch the start menu – once you release the key, the menu will
appear. Get used to this key; many of the other shortcuts you will use rely on
You may have a ‘very’ old keyboard that may not
include the Windows Key on it. You will not be able to use this shortcut
unless you get a new keyboard.
You can also use Ctrl + Esc
Tip 2: Quickly getting to your System Properties
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + Pause/Break
There will certainly be times where you will
need to access the System Properties for your computer. When you need to get to
the properties, many times you will go through a pretty long exercise. There are
a couple of ways to get to the properties, most commonly by right clicking the
mouse over the ‘My Computer’ icon on your desktop and then selecting properties
from the drop down menu. If you do this very often, you may consider using this
Tip 3: Quickly getting to your Run Dialog Box
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + R
The Run dialog box is used to allow you to either browse to a command to run,
or simply enter the path to one if not already entered in the system’s path
To quickly run an executable (such as calc.exe), just type calc in the Run
dialog box and if in the path statement, it will simply run. The Run dialog box
is used often so this shortcut will really come in handy.
You can also quickly access websites by entering
URLs in the Run dialog box …. http://www.rsnetworks.net/
-or- You can also open files with the following:
Tip 4: Quickly Locking your System
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + L
There will surely be times where you want to quickly step away from your
system and not leave it accessible to prying eyes in the office or home. How do
you quickly lock up your PC and allow it to be secure from immediate access at
the console? By locking it up, that’s how.
Commonly, the quickest way to do this was to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del key
sequence (will be covered shortly) which would allow you to select an option to
‘Lock Workstation’. Using this keystroke will allow you from moving to using
three keys and the mouse to navigate to a simple keystroke that will lock your
Tip 5: Quickly Search for Anything
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + F
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows
key + Ctrl + F
If you want to find files (and or computers, and other random things on your
system) you will want to use the Search feature built into Windows XP. To use
this, remember the old name for it, which was simply Find. Now – the Windows Key
+ F will invoke the Search function and within a few seconds, you should see
your Search Results dialog box come up. Use this feature to find items on
your system or on remote systems that you may have access and connections to.
You can also use this feature to find other computers on your network if you
wanted to add the ctrl key in that keystroke sequence. If not, you can use the
original keyboard shortcut and then just select Computers or people as the
criteria you want to search.
Tip 6: Quickly Minimizing and Restoring Windows
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + D
One of my favorite keyboard shortcuts is the Windows Key + D shortcut. Try to
remember the word ‘desktop’ when you try to remember the D, think of using this
shortcut to reveal the ‘desktop’ and it may help you remember it.
Many times I am very tied up (like right now) with many Windows open on my
system. This is because most times, I am working within multiple applications.
There are times where I may want to view the desktop for one reason or another,
and that can ‘very’ quickly be done with a keystroke. There were many ways to
minimize all Windows that may be blocking view of the desktop, but this is one
of the quickest. Another very quick way is if you have the ‘quick launch’
toolbar setup in your Taskbar. If you do in fact have this set up, this is also
a quick way to reveal the desktop, as well as to put it back again.
Tip 7: Quickly getting to the Utility Manager
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + U
Users can start accessibility programs before logging on to the computer by
using this keystroke. If you are fond of using the Utility Manager, then this
keyboard shortcut will definitely help you to get to it. Tools such as
'Magnifier' and 'Narrator' can be set to start automatically and so on with this
Utility Manager enables users to check an
accessibility program's status and start or stop an accessibility program.
Users with administrator-level access can designate to have the program start
when Utility Manager starts. The built-in accessibility programs available
from the Utility Manager are Magnifier, Narrator, and On-Screen Keyboard.
Narrator, a text-to-speech program, starts when Utility Manager opens. This
gives users who are blind or have impaired vision immediate access to Utility
Manager. Using Utility Manager, you can tell Windows to automatically start
accessibility programs each time you log on to your computer, when you lock
your computer desktop, or when Utility Manager starts.
Tip 8: Quickly getting to Help and Support
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + F1
If you are in need of help or support, look no further. By using Windows Key
+ F1 (the F1 key), then you can use the help and support system that comes with
Help and Support may take a second to load on
most systems, so be patient.
Tip 9: Quickly getting to Windows Explorer
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + E
Here is another great shortcut you may not know about. If you want to access
Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer – the Web browser), you can use the
Windows Key + E shortcut. This will open up Windows Explorer for you so you can
manage files and other forms of data on your system.
Be aware that this may take a moment to open if you are working on a network
and have mapped drives, so be patient if it takes a moment.
Tip 10: Quickly delete something without being ASKED to
Keyboard Shortcut: Shift + Del
This is absolutely my all time favorite shortcut, now you can delete
something from your system and not be asked 82 times if I really am sure I want
to do that.... this keyboard shortcut allows you to bypass the asking – your
data is deleted without question.
This is only dangerous if you are not sure if
you want to delete something or not, but honestly, with the fact being that
you have to ‘empty’ your recycle bin anyway… as long as you don’t have a task
set up to do it – then this is definitely something you want to consider.
Tip 11: Quickly getting to your shortcut menu
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key
Newer keyboards have a key that allows you to now get properties menus from
anything you select that can provide you with a menu. For instance, if you have
Office document on your desktop (let's say, a spreadsheet named tax.xls) then
you can select it and press the Window key and then the shortcut menu key and
you can now quickly view properties for a selected object. Although this is not
the ‘fastest’ keystroke sequence in the world, it happens to be a very helpful
one especially if you do not have a mouse attached to your system.
Tip 12: Quickly getting to your Task Manager
Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + Del
By far the most commonly used keystroke sequence used on just about
any and every Windows system ever created. By pressing (and holding down) the
Control key (ctrl), then the Alt key (Alt), and then the Delete key (Del),
it will allow you to lock your workstation, change a password as well
as use Task Manager.
Tip 13: Quickly switch between running programs
Keyboard Shortcut: Alt + Tab
If you work with many programs (most people who work on computers these days
fit this description) then you will definitely want to learn about and master
the Alt + Tab keystroke sequence. By selecting the Alt key and then holding it
down (try this with your left thumb) and then use the tab key to switch between
running programs, highlighting and selecting a specific program will bring that
one to the foreground, maximized in your screen so that you can work within it.
Releasing the Alt key brings up the program you want to use.
This keystroke needs to come with a small
warning. If you hit the Caps Lock key by accident, then you will get no
results other than your Caps Lock being on and maybe causing you some
confusion and headaches a little later on. As well, if you hit the Alt key
only by accident, it will select the ‘menu’ in just about any open dialog box
you have in the foreground. Just be aware that missing keys and hitting others
in this situation will not only cause you to not get the result you wanted,
but then some unwanted results as well.
Tip 14: Quickly Getting to Full Screen Command Prompt
Keyboard Shortcut: Alt + Enter
If you want to see the Command Prompt in full screen (not in a small Window),
you can quickly expand it to full screen with the Alt + Enter keystroke
sequence. The only problem with this is, you need to have the Command Prompt
open to expand it to full screen, so, to open it you can use the Run dialog box.
Here is a way to use two keyboard shortcuts at once… as you may recall, we
already learned the shortcut to get to the Run dialog box, which was using the
Windows Key + R. Now, once open, type cmd and hit enter. This will then open
your Command Prompt.
CMD gives you full screen mode only if you select it from the properties of
the Command prompt Windows – you can select full screen mode by default, but I
don’t like it this way, it is too intrusive and cumbersome – using the Keyboard
shortcut will give you want you want very quickly and give you access to both
types (Windows or Full Screen) as quickly as you can hit the keystroke sequence.
Alt + Enter can be very confusing because its one
keystroke that does ‘many’ different things depending on where you are at the
time of usage. Alt + Enter with no programs open it may do nothing. Just be
aware of how you are using the command keystroke and what you have open at the
Tip 15: Quickly make your own Shortcut
Make your own shortcuts… wow, does it get any better? Ok, so the Keyboard
shortcuts you already learned are lame in your mind or you just want to be
different, whatever you’re reasoning… you can make custom shortcuts in a flash.
I assign a keyboard shortcut for the files and applications that I launch many
times a day, such as Microsoft Word 2003.
To make a shortcut, follow these steps:
- Simply right-click an application shortcut in the Start menu or on the
desktop and choose Properties.
- If not already selected, select the Shortcut tab.
- Click in the 'Shortcut key' box and press your desired shortcut keys.
I use a lot of Ctrl + Shift + Alt key sequences. You can use your own
desired sequences as well. One prerequisite of Windows is that your shortcut
must use at least two modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, or Alt and/or a function key
or a key on keypad.
- Click OK to close the properties windows and use your new keyboard
If you want to remove your shortcut, follow the
same path into your properties dialog again and just select the ‘Shortcut
Key:’ field and then backspace one time to remove the shortcut. Click Ok to
close the properties windows and the shortcut keyboard sequence will be
In this article we covered the basics of working with the keyboard to
increase your speed and efficiency when working with Windows XP. Stay tuned for
About Robert J. Shimonski
here for Robert J. Shimonski's section.
Check out these recent articles by Robert J. Shimonski
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