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Feature article from the October, 2001 Cyberspace News

MOUSE vs KEYBOARD

   The computer mouse is a powerful input device, but for some things the keyboard is more convenient. For instance, when you have opened a Windows folder and want to return to the folder that contains it, you can either move the mouse pointer up to the taskbar, click "go" and then "Up one level", or you can simply press the Backspace key on the keyboard.

   There are lots of shortcut keys built into Windows, you can also define your own. For instance: to avoid cluttering my Windows desktop with many icons, I've defined shortcut keys for the programs that I use the most. So, when I want to activate my e-mail program, I press Alt-Shift-e, and when I want the spreadsheet that contains my budget, I press Ctl-Alt-b.

   In addition to Windows-wide shortcut keys such as those described above, you can define shortcuts within applications. For example, when I want Word to save the document I've been working on and then terminate itself, I press Ctl-Shift-t. (If I want it to terminate without saving, I press Ctl-Shift-x.) In Excel, when I want all the formula results in a selected range converted to values, I press Ctl-Shift-v.

   Each of those key combinations replaces a series of mouse motions and clicks. Also some of them, such as Ctl-Shift-x, avoid the appearance of, and a required response to, a message box.

   In subsequent issues of this newsletter, we'll describe how to define shortcut keys.


Thanks to Bill Shapiro for beginning this series of articles.


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