Senior Computer Tutor
Don Edrington Home       Profile




Function Keys & Keyboard Shortcuts + Dealing with the Infamous "Insert" Key

Maureen Thompson called to say she can no longer insert anything into a line of text previously written without the characters to the right of the insertion being "swallowed up" as she types. This is because Maureen unintentionally pressed her Insert (Ins) key at some point. This key once served a useful purpose on old pre-mouse computers, but on modern computers it does little but mess up one's typing when it's pressed. The fix for Maureen's problem is to simply press it again.

The "Function" keys (F1, F2, etc.) were also created before the advent of the mouse, and are seldom used nowadays. However, in many applications pressing F1 will display the program's Help menu. In many programs F7 will activate a spell-checker, and pressing Shift+F7 when a word is highlighted will activate a Thesaurus which shows synonyms for the word.

If your mouse stops working and you want to turn off your computer, pressing Alt+F4 several times will usually do the job. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete simultaneously will bring up the Windows Task Manager, which will display several options, including End Task and Shut Down.

Many useful keyboard shortcuts involve holding down Ctrl while pressing another key. For instance, Ctrl+S is the same clicking File>Save. Ctrl+Z, will Undo the last editing command. You can Copy selected text with Ctrl+C, while Ctrl+X will Cut the selection. The copied or cut text can the be pasted with Ctrl+V wherever you want it.

Ctrl+Home will move your cursor to the top of a document, while Ctrl+End will send it to its bottom.

Ctrl+F will activate the Find command, while Ctrl+H will activate the Find & Replace dialog box in many programs. Ctrl+P will print the document.

Ctrl+2 will converted a selected paragraph to double line spacing, while Ctrl+1 will return it to single-spacing. Ctrl+5 will change it to 1.5 line spacing. Ctrl+A means Select All, and will cause your line-spacing options to encompass the whole document.

In Microsoft documents, Shift+F3 will convert selected text from all lower case to all upper case, as well as to traditional sentence structure with the first letter of the phrase capitalized.

When editing a document it's often more efficient to drag and drop selected text than to Cut it from one place and Paste it into another. After mouse-selecting the text to be moved, hold your cursor over the selection until it changes to an arrow, whereupon you use your left mouse button to grab the text and drag it to any other location on your page.

This also works for moving text between different documents open on your screen. In fact, it can be moved between different programs, such as from an MSWord file into an Excel spreadsheet.

This also works for dragging files from one folder into another or onto an external hard drive. Files dragged onto another drive will be copied, rather than physically moved. However, files moved from one place to another on a given drive will be physically relocated unless you press Ctrl while making the move.

Information on creating special characters, such as ¼, ½, ¾, ¿, ¢, ®, ©, á, ñ, and ç can be found at: www.pcdon.com/page3.html.

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