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Common Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows Vista and Office

Some people think of keyboard shortcuts as "old school" — the last vestiges of pre-Windows computing. Well they are — but there is a good reason why these common keyboard shortcuts have hung on, even in Windows Vista. The fact is that they are often the fastest way to get something done.

The following is a list of key combinations that are recognized in almost every program — and, usually, in Windows itself.

Common Keyboard Shortcuts
Key What It Does
Ctrl+C Copies the selected items to the Clipboard.
Ctrl+X Cuts the selected items to the Clipboard.
Ctrl+V Pastes the contents of the Clipboard at the current cursor location.
Ctrl+A Selects everything.
Ctrl+Z Undoes the last thing you did.
Ctrl+B Boldface (usually toggles bold on and off for the selected text).
Ctrl+I Italic (usually a toggle).
Ctrl+U Underline (usually a toggle, too).
Ctrl+click Selects items one by one: Click something to select it, then hold down the Ctrl key and click something else. Both things are selected. To select more, hold down the Ctrl key again and select another one. To deselect items that you have selected, hold down the Ctrl key and click the thing you want to get rid of.
Shift+click Similar to Ctrl+click, except this action selects everything in between. Say you’re working on a list of files. Click the first file to select it. Hold down the Shift key and click another file. Every file between the first one and the last one is selected.
Tab Goes to the next item (in, say, a dialog box, or to fill in a form on the Web). Just to confuse things, if you want to move from tab to tab in a tabbed dialog box, press Ctrl+Tab.
Shift+Tab Goes to the previous item.
Alt+F, Alt+X, and then Enter In most (but not all!) applications, this combination starts an orderly shutdown of the application. If your screen suddenly goes black — perhaps a power outage? — and you need to bail out quickly, hold down the Alt key, press F and release it, wait a second, press X and release it, release the Alt key, wait a few more seconds, and press Enter to save whatever file you’ve been working on. Press Enter a few more times for good measure, and you’re usually okay.
F1 Finds you some Help.
F2 Lets you rename the selected folder or file.
F3 Brings up the Search window.
F11 Toggles Windows Explorer into (or out of) full-screen mode.
F5 Refreshes (in other words, goes back out and checks things all over again). In Word, F5 is Find/Replace.

In most applications, you can press Alt+underlined letter in a menu item (for example, the “F” in File), and the menu behaves as if you clicked it. Fast-touch typists find this approach useful because it saves them from moving their fingers from the keyboard to the mouse. Office 2007, bless its pointed little head, no longer shows underlines on menu items, but all the old Office 2003 shortcuts work (including Alt+F+X for File→Exit). You will notice, however, that the new, improved Office 2007 interface puts boxes around the shortcut keys when you press Alt.

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