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Countless books have been written on how to shortcut your way around Windows to your advantage. But in the last part of my shortcuts series, I am going to do you a big favour and only tell you a few shortcuts that I use on a daily basis to speed up my travelling around Windows XP (most should work on Vista as well).
None of them involve going anywhere near the registry or indeed altering your Windows settings in any way. What I am about to talk about is just plain old keyboard shortcuts to make menus jump up and down, windows change or make you bounce your way around the desktop – without touching that mouse once!
So….we are on the desktop. Hello Windows XP.
When I start working on the computer, I mostly tend to head straight to the start menu so let’s go there. To bring up the start menu using the keyboard, just press the START key (also called the WIN key) which is normally at the bottom left of the keyboard close to the spacebar. It will have a small Microsoft symbol on it. It varies slightly in design according to what keyboard you’re using but it looks something like this :
Then once the start menu pops up, just use the arrow keys on your keyboard to choose your desired program and hit enter to run it.
The WIN key is actually very versatile and goes to the heart of being able to whizz around your desktop without the mouse. For example, if you do WIN + R, you can get the Run box (try it). WIN + E opens Explorer (your hard drive), WIN + D minimises all your windows and takes you to the desktop, WIN+L locks your screen and WIN + TAB moves you from one open application to another.
Now you want to open a file. Just do CTRL + O to open the file box. Use the TAB key and arrow keys to navigate to the correct folder then start typing the name of the folder in the file name text box. When the file name appears, choose it, hit enter and the file will open.
Later, to save the file before closing, just do CTRL + S. To print the file, do CTRL + P.
Cut / Copy / Paste / Undo
Obviously everyone knows the copy and paste functions (CTRL + C and CTRL + V). But how many people know that to cut something is CTRL + X. Or to undo the previous action is CTRL + Z.
These are the shortcuts I use every day and these are the ones you should be learning first. If you ask Microsoft for a list of essential shortcuts, they’ll be handing you a list as long as your arm. Instead, do your sanity a favour and learn the ones I’ve given you first – then combine them with the Firefox shortcuts, then the ones for Gmail, then Google Reader, then Google Calendar. Once you’ve mastered that lot, you can pat yourself on the back and crown yourself Keyboard Maestro!