Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

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common keyboard mistakesIt happens even to the most experienced of users: the accidental keyboard shortcuts. No matter how often you use your computer, weird things can start happening when you’re going too fast, when you lean on your keyboard, and of course, when you’re cat or child decide it’s party time, and your keyboard is a dance floor/drum set. Very experienced users know how to fix each and every problem, but many of us sometime encounter a weird problem we’re not sure how to fix, mainly because we’re not sure how it happened.

Has your cat ever walked on your keyboard just for a second, causing the entire display to flip on its side? Have you ever tried typing your password over and over again, getting an error even when you were sure you’re doing it right? Have you ever tried changing your keyboard language, and managed to close the entire program you were working on by mistake? If one of these things or something similar ever happened to you or someone you know, this guide is for you.

Bookmark, save, and share with friends. Next time you’ll know what to do, and more importantly, how it happened!

My Display Is Flipped!

common keyboard mistakes

If this never ever happened to you or to anyone you know, raise your hand now. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t encountered this weird problem at least once. While it’s very easy to do by mistake, especially for cats and children, it’s not always easy to remember how to fix it. So how does this happen? Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys. When you hit this combination, no matter which arrow, your display will flip in the direction of the arrow you used. It’s pretty simple, but very disturbing when it happens by mistake.

So how do I fix it? Ctrl+Alt+”Up Arrow” will do the trick, and will restore your display to the right orientation.

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This Thing Keeps Saying My Password Is Wrong!

keyboard mistakes

This one is very common, and probably the easiest one to recognize, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Yes, it’s the notorious CAPS LOCK, especially when trying to type in a password. Why do we need this key on the keyboard, I will never understand. Not only is it ever-present, it’s also huge, and right above the shift button. A mistake waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

When you accidently hit caps lock when just typing, it’s not so bad. When you’re typing a hidden password, though, it can turn into a disaster. I once had myself locked out of an account on a website after getting my password wrong too many times. The darn caps lock was on, and it took me way too much time to realize what was going on.

So how do I fix it? If you get your password wrong twice in a row, CHECK THE CAPS LOCK. It’s probably on.

My Num Pad Stopped Typing Numbers!

keyboard mistakes

These days, most keyboard include a number pad, even on laptops. And where there’s a num pad (and even where there isn’t, really), there’s a Num Lock button. If you’ve ever tried to use your num pad and ended up scrolling as if you were using arrows, you’ve probably turned your num lock off. The num lock button, while it’s on, makes sure your num pad outputs numbers. When it’s off, the num pad keys turn to arrows, and you’re not getting any numbers. Since it’s mostly useless, it’s very easy to hit by mistake.

So how do I fix it? This is a no brainer: Make sure your num lock is on, if you want to type numbers. Note that on some laptops, you need to use the Fn key in order to toggle num lock. When this is done by mistake, it’s even more difficult to discover what’s happened!

My Display Keeps Changing Size!

Have you ever innocently scrolled a page, only to have it become huge or tiny within seconds? This rather amusing effect is usually caused by the Ctrl key being pressed, or even stuck, while using the mouse’s scroll wheel. When you hit Ctrl and scroll, you’re actually zooming in and out of the page (very useful to know, if you haven’t been using it). You can achieve the same effect by pressing ctrl and the plus or minus buttons, whether intentionally or not.

So how do I fix it? If you’re zooming in and out and didn’t mean to do this, check your ctrl key. If you’re not actively pressing it, tap it a few times to make sure it’s not stuck, or read “Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!” further down this post.

The Arrow Keys Scroll My Entire Excel Spreadsheet!

OK, I’ll admit this one is rare, but when it does happen, it’s really annoying. Have you ever worked on an Excel spreadsheet (or some of the other rare programs that are actually affected by this), and suddenly found that the arrow keys scroll the entire spreadsheet instead of moving between cells? Something so simple, and yet it can drive a person insane when trying to get some work done. The solution to this mystery is simple: the Scroll Lock key.

Already absent from many keyboards, this key is a relic from of times past, and doesn’t really affect most of today’s software. It does, however, work in Microsoft Excel, and several other text editors. It’s function is to turn your arrow keys into scroll keys, instead of have them move the cursor.

So how do you fix it? Well, this one is simple. Turn off scroll lock!

I’m Trying To Change Language, & Weird Things Keep Happening!

keyboard mistakes

Ah, my favorite mistake, and the one that keep happening to me over and over again. If you only use an English keyboard, you’ve probably never encountered this, but anyone who had to switch between languages or layout probably knows this. Sometimes you’re trying to switch languages by pressing Alt+Shift, and when you resume typing in the other language, all sort of crazy things start happening. What’s going on?

What’s  happening is that for some reason, the keyboard didn’t catch the “shift” part of the shortcut, and only took the “alt” into account. In many programs, hitting alt is the same as opening the menus on top. When you hit alt and then a combination of letters, you can activate pretty much every function in the menu, using only the keyboard. Very useful when you actually want to do this, but not so when you only want to switch languages. I can’t count the number of times I managed to close the entire window, when I was only trying to switch languages.

(I’m not even going to go into the “typing in the wrong language” problem. I can write a whole post about this one.)

So how do I fix it? Stop for a second after hitting alt+shift; do you see the letters highlighted on the menu as seen in the screenshot? Don’t go any further. Hit escape, and then alt+shift again, this time with intention!

Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!

You’re trying to type, and weird things keep happening. Capital letters come out of nowhere, your text is randomly highlighted or disappears, and your windows keep minimizing for no apparent reason. If you’re really in trouble, you may even lock your entire computer without meaning to. And the thing keeps beeping! What’s going on?

common keyboard mistakes

Yes, the infamous sticky keys. While these could be very convenient for people who have trouble holding two keys at the same time, it’s nothing but a nuisance to anyone else. And the worse thing: they can be activated by mistake. Sticky keys make it so you don’t have to hold the shift, ctrl, alt and Win keys in order to activate their special functions. You can hit shift, let it go, and then hit a letter. You will get a capital latter.

How do you activate it? Usually by tapping on the shift button five times in a row. When you do that, a beep sounds, and the above dialog box appears. If you’re not paying attention, you might just hit yes without realizing, it is the default answer after all, and you’re stuck with sticky keys.

So how do I fix it? If you’ve managed to activate sticky keys by mistake, tapping five times on the shift button will turn them off. You won’t see a notice about it, but you’ll hear four beeps, and then a distinctive downwards beep. Sticky keys are now off!

Conclusion

These are most likely not the only annoying keys people hit by mistake. When writing this post, I was trying to include the most common keyboard mistakes I could think of, especially those that keep happening to me. Not being a newbie, I’m aware that if something happens to me, it can sure happen to people who don’t use a computer for their livelihood.

Is there an annoying keyboard shortcut I forgot to mention? Does something like this keep happening to you? Tell us your stories, and of course, how to fix it!

Image credits: man hitting computer image via Shutterstock, num pad image via Shutterstock

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