In our last installment of Hardware 101, we gave you a primer on the mouse and its buttons. This week, we pay homage to the mouse’s trusty desktop sidekick—the keyboard. We’ll also cover some ways to speed up common tasks by using keyboard shortcuts.
First, let’s cover the basics.
The keys on a standard QWERTY keyboard are grouped by function:
The typing keys (in yellow) include the alphanumeric characters that do most of your work. For the most part, they’re carried over from the layout of a typewriter’s keys.
The control keys (in red) can be used alone, or combined with other keys in keyboard shortcuts, which we’ll expand on below.
The function keys (in purple) are used to perform specific tasks depending on the program you’re using.
The navigation keys (in green) help you navigate through and edit a document or webpage. You can use the arrows to scroll carefully, or make larger jumps with Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down. Delete and Insert help you add or remove content quickly.
The numeric keypad (in blue) is available on most larger keyboards, and mimics a conventional calculator or adding machine. It’s handy for entering numbers quickly.
Now, breeze through your work with shortcuts.
Most of the programs you use will offer shortcuts to perform certain tasks more quickly than you can with a mouse. These shortcuts are often written as a combination of two keys. For example, the shortcut for copying content is “Ctrl+C”. To use this shortcut, you’ll hold down the “Ctrl” key, then press the “C” key.
These common keyboard shortcuts work across multiple programs:
Delete Del (sometimes Delete)
Find Next F3
Go to… Ctrl+G
Select All Ctrl+A
The first five are especially common, and you can use them in almost any Microsoft Office program. They’re great time-savers worth memorizing.
Next, make the ribbon reveal its secrets.
If you’re in a program that uses the ribbon, you can navigate menus using only your keyboard. Just press the “Alt” key. You should see overlays like the ones below. To get to a specific tab or function, press the key that’s listed in the overlay. In the example below, you would press “N” to switch to the “Insert” tab.
This is useful when removing your hands from the keyboard might cause an unnecessary disruption in your workflow. For instance, if you’re typing a lengthy document or entering a lot of data into a spreadsheet.
There’s more where that came from…
To become even more of a keyboard wiz, check out our full list of keyboard shortcuts.
Learn more about our keyboard offerings on www.microsoft.com/hardware.
- Hardware Team