Using keyboard shortcuts

This page explains how computers can be accessed using keyboard shortcuts which, when combined with a mouse, can make using a computer much quicker.

A keyboard shortcut is a specific combinations of keys that tells the computer to do something, such as print a document. Almost all keyboard shortcuts can be accomplished by clicking on an icon or menu item using the mouse. The common shortcuts can be found in most computer programs but others vary wildly and can be pain to learn. Some of the most common ones include:

Shortcut KeyAction
CTRL+CCopy highlighted text/file/pictures
CTRL+BMake text bold
CTRL+IMake text italic

Shortcut keys combinations are usually formed by pressing a ‘command’ key such as (e.g. CTRL) followed by a plus then followed by the other key. SoCTRL + C means that you need to hold down the CTRL key (either of them) and press the C key. If you have difficulties holding down two keys at once then I suggest you read my StickyKeys tutorial.

The F1 key, on its own, is almost always reserved for Help. If you’re ever stuck in a computer program press F1 and a paper clip will do its best to help you. Super.

Shortcuts shown in a program's menus

You can find out what keyboard shortcuts do what in a particular program by looking in the menus or looking in Help. The menus usually have the keyboard shortcuts listed next to the items in the list. If there’s no keyboard shortcut then there’s probably no keyboard shortcut.

If you’ve never notice them before then you’re not the only one – I’ve always said that the only way to get to grips with a computer is to learn to ignore all the stuff you don’t need.

Anyhow, you can often also look up the shortcut keys in the program’s help. Press F1 to start.

Here you can see a list of common keystrokes that apply to the whole of Windows.

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