All posts by estephen

I'm just a guy who uses a lot of Windows keyboard shortcuts!

Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys: Rotate Screen

If you press Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow, the screen will rotate sideways.

Why would you ever do this? Maybe you have a desktop and you’ve turned your monitor into the portrait direction. Or maybe you’ve got a laptop and you’ve placed it on its side.

Regardless, to get back to the normal direction, press Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow.

This one is in the category of “good prank to play on someone on April 1st.”

Windows+Home: Minimize all windows EXCEPT the active window

Sometimes you want to minimize every window except the one that you’re using, so that you can see the desktop but keep working.

Press Windows and the Home key. All other windows minimize down to the task bar.

Press Windows+Home again, and the other windows are restored to where they were.

Note that if your active window is maximized, you won’t really see anything happening. This tip is only useful if the active window takes up less than the full screen.

Windows, Right, Space: Shutdown in Windows 7

This is probably the most-frequently-asked keyboard question for Windows 7: How to use the keyboard to shutdown or restart.

If you have a laptop, it may have a sleep shortcut with something like Fn+F1, but this is how you can go about it universally:

  1. Press the Windows key. The Start menu appears.
  2. Press the Right Arrow key. The focus is now on the Shutdown button.
  3. The default action is to Shutdown. If you want to do that, you can just press Space and your system will begin shutting down immediately.
  4. If you want to restart, just press the Right Arrow again. The Shutdown menu appears. To Restart, press R. To choose any other action, press the underlined letter.

[Windows 7 shutdown dialog box]

How to post a comment or item in Google Plus (G+) without using a mouse

If you’re using the new social network from Google called Google Plus, you may have noticed that the Enter key starts a new paragraph instead of ending the comment or post.’

So, how do you stop having to reach for the mouse to click on the green “Post comment” button? Just press Tab to select the button, then Enter to press the button, which will post your comment.

Tab Enter

Similarly, for post a new item, press Tab once to get to the sharing area, then Tab again to get to the green “Share” button, then press Enter.

(Note you can also hit Space instead of Enter if you prefer.)

Restoring your screen using CMD and Full-screen mode

Every now and then, your screen may go blank — especially on your laptop. Whether it’s a misbehaving app or a video card glitch, sometimes you just know that your computer is still running but you can’t see anything. Using Fn+F8 to toggle output modes may help, but if not, try this sequence:

  1. Hit Windows key + R to get the Run dialog box. Even though your screen is blank, Windows will ask you what command you want to execute.
  2. Type cmd plus Enter to run the Command prompt. (You may know this as the DOS command screen.)
  3. Press Alt+Enter to toggle full screen mode. This will force your video mode to text mode, which should fix the display problems.
  4. Type EXIT and enter to close the Command screen. That will return you to Windows mode, and your video should now be restored.

Ideally you’d never need it… but sometimes you just need it!

Renaming the blog…

All right, it’s been well over a year since this has been an “of the Day” blog. Facing reality, I have to admit I just don’t have the time to keep this a daily blog. I do hope to post periodically though, and at some point will have time again to do more regular updates. As of today this blog is now just known as “Windows Keyboard Shortcuts.”

In the meantime, if you have questions or need help with anything, let me know!

Using the “unique” filter in Excel via keyboard to remove duplicate items from a list

Suppose someone gives you long list of names, and your job is to find only the unique ones. (For example, if “John Smith” is listed twice, suppose you want to create a new list where John Smith is only listed once.)

This is a job for Excel’s advanced filters, and you don’t need a mouse. Follow these steps.

  1. In Excel, create a new worksheet. (Ctrl+N can help on that last part.)
  2. If your data doesn’t have a heading row, put a header such as “Names” in cell A1. (Type in the header and press Enter.)
  3. Right below the header, paste your data into Excel. (Remember you can use Ctrl+V to paste.)
  4. With your cursor somewhere within the list, press Alt+D to open the Data menu, then press F to select the Filter command, then press A to choose the Advanced Filter command. The Advanced Filter dialog box appears.
  5. Press Alt+O to select the second radio button option, “Copy to another location.”
  6. Press Alt+T to select the “Copy to” entry, and type in the cell location you want, such as “b1” for cell B1.
  7. Press Alt+R to select the checkbox option for “Unique records only.”
  8. That’s it! Press Enter to select OK.

[Screenshot of Excel showing advanced filter options to filter for unique items only

A new list appears in cell B1 (or whatever cell you selected in step 6), in the same order as the original list — except with any duplicate entries completely removed.

[Screenshot of Excel showing the results of the advanced filter options to filter for unique items only

Shift+End, Backspace: Delete the rest of the line

Here’s a combination that I use frequently when I find myself in the middle of a line of text and I want to remove the rest:

  1. Make sure your cursor is to the left of all the text you wish to erase. (Use the left arrow and right arrow key as necessary.)
  2. Press Shift+End. All the text between your cursor and the end of the line is selected.
  3. Press the Backspace (or Delete) key. The text is erased.

Much faster than pressing the delete key a bunch of times.

Modify Firefox to do full keyword searches

Today’s tip comes from Steve Lacy of, and helps you improve your Firefox keyword searches.

First, what’s a keyword search? In Firefox, you can type stuff in the location bar and press Enter. If you don’t type in a URL (such as “”) and instead type in a keyword (such as “tivo”), Firefox figures you want to do a keyword search. By default, Firefox performs a Google “I’m feeling lucky” search, which isn’t that useful. However, you can change it to do a regular Google search instead.

Here’s how to change the configuration:

  1. In Firefox, press Ctrl+L to go to the location bar. Type “about:config” and press Enter.
  2. A warning appears that this might void your warranty. To press the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button, hit the Space Bar. A list of configuration items appears.
  3. By default, your cursor is in the “Filter” bar. Type “keyword.url” and after a second, just that option is listed.
  4. Press Tab a couple of times until the option is highlighted. Then press Enter, and a dialog box labeled “Enter string value” appears.
  5. Now, type in the following value for keyword.url:
    (The existing default string is pretty close to that — you’re basically just removing &gfns=1 from near the end of the default string.)

Now, press Ctrl+L and type in a keyword. Instead of just taking you to Google’s best guess of what you wanted to search for, you’ll now see a regular Google result page. Click the link you want.

Steve points out that one could easily change this option to any variety of other interesting URLs.

Alt+Ctrl+S: Split the screen in Microsoft Word

This morning I was working with a long document in Microsoft Word, and I wanted to compare something I’d written on page 43 with something that written back on page 2. I was frequently jumping back and forth.
The easiest way to handle such tasks is to split the screen so that you can display page 2 on the top half, and page 43 on the bottom half, and then work with whatever half you want.

It’s not 100% keyboard only, but try this:

  1. Press Alt+Ctrl+S, and a split cursor appears.
  2. Press Up Arrow or Down Arrow until the split is where you want it, then press Enter. The screen is split.
  3. Now, scroll to wherever you want (and remember the Ctrl+G or F5 shortcut that lets you go to whatever page you want right away). You scroll in one half, while the other half of the split displays the other portion of the document.
  4. I don’t know of a keyboard method to change which part of the split you work with, so you’ll need to use the mouse to click in the top portion or bottom portion as needed if you want to make edits.
  5. When you’re all done with the split, press Alt+Shift+C, and the split is removed.

Note that a split is really just a different way of viewing the same document — you only have one copy. Any changes you make in the top portion are immediately reflected in the bottom portion, and vice versa.

Shift+Click: Open link in new window (Firefox, Chrome, IE)

While I spend a lot of my day without ever touching the mouse, when browsing it’s definitely easier to click on a link to follow it (rather than having to hit Tab a few dozen times until the right link is selected, then pressing Enter).

When doing so, there are a couple of quick shortcuts that work with any browser.

To start with, try press Shift then next time you click on a link. Instead of replacing the current web page with the contents of your link, a new page appears, with the contents of whatever web page that you clicked on.

(You can then close this new window with Ctrl+W.)

Shift+Esc: Task manager in Google Chrome

There are several ways you can see the new task manager in Google Chrome (which helps you monitor your tabs and the overall memory performance for the pages you’re browsing).

You can:

  • Right-click in the title bar at the top of the Chrome window and select “Task manager” from the shortcut menu that appears.
  • Press Alt+Space to see that same shortcut menu, then use the up and down arrow keys until Task manager is highlighted, then press Enter.
  • Press Alt+Space, T
  • Or just press Shift+Esc.

To close the Task manager dialog box, simply hit Esc.

Ctrl+Shift+N: Start incognito session in a new window in Google Chrome

(Since we had yesterday off for Labor Day, two posts today!)

One new concept in Chrome is the idea of an incognito session, where the history and cookies are not preserved. This could be useful if, for example, you’re at a friend’s house or an Internet cafĂ©, or if you don’t want your spouse to see that you’ve been shopping for a surprise birthday present. Or other things.

To start a new incognito session in Chrome, just press Ctrl+Shift+N. A new window appears, with slightly different coloring and a “secretive browser person” icon at the top.

(To close the incognito session, just press Alt+F4 as you normally would to close a program. All tabs in your new window close at once.)

Using the keyboard with Google Chrome

Google Chrome was released in beta today (Tuesday, September 2). This is Google’s browser, currently only for Windows, and its arrival rekindles the browser wars into a three-way race between Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and now Google’s Chrome.

Chrome offers much faster loading speed and more stability as its main differentiators, but also a new feature called an “incognito session” (which we’ll cover later today), plus the ability to quickly use web sites (such as Gmail) as applications on your desktop and Start menu.

The majority of the Firefox keyboard shortcuts we’ve covered here previously do work in Chrome. There are a few exceptions, which I’ve outlined below.

Here’s what works:

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the keyboard control of Chrome, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in this beta:

  • There’s no apparent way to open the “Control the current page” and “Customize and control Google Chrome” dropdown menu icons in the upper right, except by clicking.
  • In a very serious breach of Windows usability, the F1 key does nothing at all instead of calling up help.
  • The list of keyboard shortcuts in their help is very incomplete.
  • Ctrl+S does nothing instead of saving the current web page, although you can right-click (even with Shift+F10) and choose “Save as” from the shortcut menu.
  • At least one keyboard command, Ctrl+O to open a file, has no listing anywhere on any menu. (All keyboard shortcut commands should have toolbar icons or menu entries as equivalents, and those icons or commands should always list the keyboard shortcut as a visual reminder.)
  • When Chrome offers to save a password when you log in to a site, there’s no keyboard method to say yes or no — you have to click on one of the buttons that appear.
  • You can’t navigate your saved bookmarks in a menu to select a site as you can with Firefox’s bookmark menu. (In Chrome, you can only click on the bookmark toolbar under “Other bookmarks” or search bookmarks in the omnibox using Ctrl+L and typing in a few letters from the bookmark.)

Here are some of the Firefox keyboard commands that do NOT work in Chrome:

Ctrl+F1: Switch off the task pane in Office

When you start up Excel or other Office programs, they often stick a “Task Pane” up on the right, usually with the “Getting Started” heading. Annoying, isn’t it?

Switch it off one time with Ctrl+F1.

Switch it off permanently by following these steps (which you have to repeat for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.): Hit Alt+T to open the Tools menu, O to select the Options command, then deselect the “Startup Task Pane” checkbox using Alt plus whatever is the underlined letter (which is different in different programs — nice consistency there, Microsoft), then press Enter for OK.

Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F9: Calculate all formulas and dependent formulas

To finish the options for F9, let’s suppose you really need Excel to double-check EVERY formula to make sure the numbers are right (again, probably only useful if you’ve opened a bunch of workbooks that are huge, manually calculated, and may have been corrupted). Press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F9 to do this:

Rechecks dependent formulas, and then calculates all formulas in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since last time or not.

I’ve done this before with a spreadsheet that had six dependent files, 60,000 rows and over 100 columns of complex formulas — it wasn’t done until after I came back from lunch.

Ctrl+Alt+F9: Calculate all formulas

To continue the theme from yesterday and Monday, there’s another recalculate option — mostly useful if you have a spreadsheet that seems to have been corrupted and you want to check all the formulas. Press Ctrl+Alt+F9 to do the following:

Calculates all formulas in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since last time or not.

Shift+F9: Calculate in active worksheet

Yesterday we learned about the F9 key and how it calculates formulas manually if you’ve switched off automatic calculation (which you’d only do if you’re working with a big spreadsheet that has lots of formulas).

The technical definition of what F9 does, per Excel, is:

Calculates formulas that have changed since the last calculation, and formulas dependent on them, in all open workbooks.

Sometimes you don’t want to recalculate in all open workbooks. Perhaps, instead, you only want to recalculate the formulas in the sheet that you’re currently working with (because you don’t want to wait for all the other worksheets to get recalculated as well). If so, then press Shift+F9.

Here’s the technical definition of Shift+F9’s functionality:

Calculates formulas that have changed since the last calculation, and formulas dependent on them, in the active worksheet.

F9: Calculate in Excel

In Excel, if you have a big spreadsheet, it can start to get slow. Really slow. At that point, you can switch off the automatic calculation of formulas.

To do so, use the Tools | Options command, switch to the Calculate tab, then select Manual. (The keyboard method to navigate there is Alt+T for the Tools menu, O for the Options command, Ctrl+Tab to switch tabs to the Calculate tab, then Alt+M to select the Manual radio button. Then press Enter to close the dialog box.)

From now on, any time you change a number or formula, the spreadsheet won’t update itself until you press F9.

Alt+4, Alt+5, Alt+6, Alt+7: Other buttons in the file dialog box

By now you may have figured out the pattern: When using Word, Excel or PowerPoint, and at the moment when you have a file dialog box open, you can use the Alt key plus a number to select the buttons along the top right.

We’ve already seen three:

  • Alt+1: Back (a folder)
  • Alt+2: Up one level (of folders)
  • Alt+3: Search the Web

But there are several more:

  • Alt+4: Delete (if you have a file or folder selected)
  • Alt+5: Create New Folder
  • Alt+6: Views
  • Alt+7: Tools (pulls down the Tools menu)

Because the buttons are in the same order, 1 through 7, it actually becomes fairly easy to remember which button to press.

Several of these, such as Alt+5, are actually useful. Whether or not you use these shortcuts depends on how often you use the buttons. Practice!

Remember, the easiest way to see this dialog box is to press F12 when using Word, Excel or PowerPoint to get the Save As dialog box, or to press Ctrl+O for the Open dialog box.

Alt+3: Search the web instead of using the file dialog (Office)

I have to admit I never use this one.

But, just suppose: You’re in Word or Excel or PowerPoint. You’ve opened up a file dialog box. It could be an Open file dialog box (by pressing Ctrl+O or using the File | Open menu, or by pressing Ctrl+F12). Or it could be a Save As file dialog box (by pressing F12, or selecting File | Save As).

And then you change your mind, and want to search the web instead. Instead of hitting Esc to cancel the file dialog box, and then pressing Ctrl+Esc to get the Start menu and then running your web browser, and then opening up a search engine, you can do all of that with one button. You could just use your mouse to hit this button, the “Search the Web” button:

[Screenshot of Save As dialog box with Search the Web button circled]

Or, you could press Alt+3. When you do so, instantly the dialog box closes (with no action taken), and your web browser comes up, with a search engine displayed.

(Note to readers: If you know how to change the search engine used here from MSN Live to something else, please let me know. The standard methods don’t seem to work.)

It’s a pity this keyboard shortcut only works in Office apps and not all apps that use a file dialog box.

Alt+1: Go back a Folder when in file dialog box (Office)

Similarly to yesterday’s tip, suppose you’ve opened the Save As dialog box and have looked at one or more different folders or drives, and you want to go back to the one you were just looking at. You could click on that little green “Back” button up in the top center, next to the “Save in” or “Look in” drop-down list. But instead of clicking a button, you can just type Alt+1.

Each time you press Alt+1 you’ll go back another folder until you return to the one you started out looking at.

Alt+2: Go up one Folder when in file dialog box (Office)

Yesterday, I mentioned you can press the Backspace key to move up a folder when you’re working with files.

For Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), you can do the same thing with Alt+2.

Try it!

Suppose, for example, you’re viewing top-secret plans in Word, and want to save a copy of them on your Desktop. You’d do the following:

  1. Hit F12 to get the Save As dialog box.
  2. Alt+2 several times, until the Desktop is displayed. (Normally you’d instead hit Shift+Tab, then Backspace several times.)
  3. Type the file name you want and press Enter.

F12: Save As (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

When working with Excel, Word, or PowerPoint, you can save the current document with a new name, or in a different directory, or on a floppy disk (remember those?), by tapping the F12 key. The “Save As” dialog box appears. Then you can enter your filename and press Enter.

Not the right folder? Remember, you can move up a folder with the Backspace key, once you’ve moved focus to the file list pane — so press Shift+Tab then Backspace a few times to get to the Desktop quickly. We’ll have more tips on what you can do from this dialog box for the rest of the week.

Semi-colons and passwords go together like red beans and rice

Many companies require you to use a secure password, and good secure passwords usually include some kind of punctuation (along with numbers, upper-case letters, and lower-case letters).

Meanwhile, pity the poor semi-colon (;). Here’s a key smackdab on the home row of your keyboard. Your right pinkie gets a workout with the P key and the Enter key and the Slash key (/), but rarely is called upon to hit the semi-colon, where it rests. (You may recall that the reason our keyboards are laid out like they are is because with old manual typewriters, you needed to actually slow down typists to prevent key jams; thus, the home row became home to many infrequently used keys. My first typing class, in 7th grade in 1979, was actually taught using manual typewriters.)

So, kill two birds with one stone: Spice up some of your secure passwords with a semi-colon or two. That satisfies the requirement of having punctuation in the password, while also being an easy key to type. Be sure to vary the semi-colon’s place in your secure password: the beginning and end may be easier to remember, but the middle is more secure.

Ctrl+Space Bar: Select Column in Excel; Shift+Space Bar: Select Row in Excel

In Excel, hit Ctrl plus the Space Bar to select the entire column of your active or selected cells. (Then you can delete all the cell contents with the delete key, or copy with Ctrl+C or whatever you like.)

Similarly, Shift plus the Space Bar selects the entire row of cells.

For example, suppose you want to move a column. Follow these steps:

  1. Move your cursor to some cell in the column you want to move. (Remember you can press F5 to instantly go anywhere.)
  2. Press Ctrl+Space Bar. The entire column is selected.
  3. Press Ctrl+X to Cut the column.
  4. Move your cursor to the location right where you want the column inserted.
  5. Press Shift+F10 to display the shortcut menu.
  6. Using the arrow keys and Enter, select the Insert Cut Cells command.

Ctrl+Backspace: Display active cell in Excel

Suppose you’ve used the mouse to scroll too far in Excel. You’re lost. The cells are zooming by at a million miles an hour. You just want to get back to see the cell where your cursor is. Help! Scrolling around to find the active cell will take forever!
Ctrl+Backspace moves the visible area of the spreadsheet back to whereever your cursor is (the so-called active cell).

Alt+Page Down, Alt+Page Up: Move left and right one screen in Excel

To move to the right in Excel to see your next group of columns, you could scroll. Or you could press the Right Arrow key a bunch of times.

Or, press Alt+Page Up. You immediately find yourself one screen to the right looking at your next batch of columns.

Conversely, Alt+Page Down moves you to the left.

(Compare to the regular Page Up and Page Down, which you already know moves you up and down a screen.)

Alt+Shift+F10: Open “Smart Tag” menu in Word, Excel & PowerPoint

When you’re using Excel 2003 or later, from time to time it’ll point out mistakes in your formulas or other observations by indicating a green triangle in the upper left of the cell, along with an exclamation point in a yellow diamond. The idea is you click on the diamond to see a menu with some options from Excel.

Clicking? Moi? Nope, instead of reaching for the mouse, just press Alt+Shift+F10, and the menu then opens. (Just have your cursor somewhere in the cell with the Smart Tag.) Once the menu appears, it’s just a regular menu, and you can use the Up Arrow or Down Arrow plus Enter to select an item, or press Esc to cancel.

Similarly, in Microsoft Word, sometimes you’ll be typing and Word will make a correction and show a blue double underline. Move your mouse to the underline and a yellow lightning bolt appears. Click on the lightning bolt and you’ll have some menu items to control the behavior of whatever automatic correction Word made.

Again, clicking? No need. The same Alt+Shift+F10 will open the Smart Tag menu in Word. Just have your cursor somewhere in the word with the double blue underline.

Ctrl+E, Alt+Down Arrow: Choose Firefox search engine

Here’s the last of our Firefox tips, in celebration of the release of Firefox 3 last week.

We previously covered Ctrl+K to jump to the search box in the upper right. If you happen to use the Google toolbar, Ctrl+K has a different function, so some of you may prefer to use Ctrl+E to jump up there instead.

Now for the next step! Once your cursor is up there in the search box, type in a search term but do NOT press Enter to search yet.

Instead, you can press Alt+Down Arrow to pull down the list of search engines available. Then you can use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow to select a search engine, and then press Enter to search using that engine.

Firefox will remember your choice until the next time you change the engine using that same Alt+Down Arrow pulldown menu.
You can always use the Manage Search Engines menu item to edit your list of search engines. To add more, just press Tab Tab Enter from the Manage Search Engine List dialog box in order to hit that “Get more search engines…” link.

Ctrl+Shift+R (or Ctrl+F5): Reload page, overriding cache

Sometimes when you reload a page, you get the same old crufty stuff even though you KNOW there’s an update.

Why is that? Well, when you load a page, your browser stores a local copy on your computer — this is called a cache. Whenever you visit a page, Firefox asks the remote server if there’s any update to the version that’s saved locally. If the host says yes, then Firefox fetches the updated page. If the last updated date is not after the date of the one you have locally, then Firefox displays the version from your cache instead, saving bandwidth and time.

Occasionally this screws up (usually because the host is returning bad info about when the page was updated). So if you just KNOW there’s an update, you need to reload the page, overriding the cache.

To do that, press Ctrl+Shift+R, or Ctrl+F5 — this is sometimes called a “forced reload.”

Alt+Enter: Open selected address bar site in a new tab (or Ctrl+Alt+Enter to auto-complete in new tab)

You already know you can press Ctrl+T to open a new tab in Firefox, and then press Ctrl+L to change focus to the location bar, where you can start typing the URL and press Enter to go to the page.

Try out this sequence instead — you might find it more intuitive.

  1. Press Ctrl+L (or Alt+D or F6) to move your focus to the address bar.
  2. Start typing the URL. At this point, Firefox’s address completion kicks in, and you can use the up and down arrow keys to select the site you want to visit.
  3. Instead of pressing Enter to open the site, or Ctrl+Enter to turn “tivo” into “,” try pressing Alt+Enter. The site you have selected automatically opens in a new tab. Whatever page you were viewing stays in its own tab.

Even faster, you can also press Ctrl+Alt+Enter to automatically complete the URL in a new tab. So:

  1. Press Ctrl+L to move your focus to the address bar.
  2. Type a word for the domain name, such as google.
  3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Enter. The domain name is turned into a full URL (so “google” becomes “”) and a new tab is opened with that page.

Ctrl+Shift+Del: Clear all private data in Firefox

Suppose you’re in a library or using someone else’s computer. You don’t want them to see your form submissions or list of visited sites, right? That’s your business, not theirs.

Ctrl+Shift+Del and a dialog box appears, with some default items to clear checked, and others not. (Remember you can use Tab and Space to change the checkmarks.) Once you press Enter, you’ve just wiped out all of your history (and theirs too, for that matter). Bookmarks do stay.

(Under Tools | Options, there’s a Privacy tab. Sadly you have to use the mouse to select this tab. Once there, you can select the “Always clear my private data when I close Firefox” option, if you find yourself clearing private data frequently. This option is off by default.)

Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, etc.: Switch tabs in Firefox — Ctrl+9 for last tab

In Firefox, once you’ve opened a new tab (with Ctrl+T, remember?), you already knew you could use Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down to switch tabs.

But you can also use Ctrl followed by a number key.

  • Ctrl+1: Switch to the first tab
  • Ctrl+2: Switch to the second tab
  • Ctrl+3: Switch to the third tab
  • Ctrl+4: Switch to the fourth tab
  • Ctrl+5: Switch to the fifth tab
  • Ctrl+6: Switch to the sixth tab
  • Ctrl+7: Switch to the seventh tab
  • Ctrl+8: Switch to the eighth tab
  • Ctrl+9: Switch to the LAST tab

No matter how many tabs you have open, Ctrl+9 will switch to the one that’s on the far right.

(You may wonder: What does Ctrl+0 do? Well, if you’ve used Ctrl+= or Ctrl+- to change the font sizes on a page, Ctrl+0 sets all the font sizes back to the default.)

Revealing the underlined shortcut: Configuring Windows XP to be more keyboard-friendly

Just recently I received a new laptop, and found that by default, the keyboard shortcuts in menus weren’t displayed.

This is the enemy of all keyboard users: An option hidden away in the Display settings that hides the underlined letters telling you what keys you can press. Boo on Microsoft for making this a default.

To enable keyboard shortcut underlining, follow these steps:

  1. Hit Windows+D to show the desktop.
  2. Press Shift+F10 to show the shortcut menu.
  3. Press up arrow to get to the bottom menu item, Properties, then press Enter to select it.
  4. Press Ctrl+Tab to change tabs three times, until the Appearance tab appears.
  5. Press Alt+E to hit the Effects button.
  6. Deselect the last item by pressing H.
  7. Press Enter twice to close the dialog boxes.

[Screen shot of the Advanced Effects dialog box, with the 'Hide underline' option]

F6: Cycle through panes (Firefox, Outlook, PowerPoint)

Whenever you have an application screen with multiple sections, try pressing F6 to cycle between them.

In Firefox, it toggles between the address bar and the web page — unless you’re viewing a web page with frames, in which case each press of F6 moves you to a different frame.
In Outlook, you can switch between the header of an e-mail (where you type the To address, Subject, etc.) and the body of the e-mail.

In PowerPoint, you’ll move between the slide, the notes, and the outline on the left.

Ctrl+H: History window (Firefox, Internet Explorer)

Ever think to yourself, “What was that web site I visited yesterday? Something about shoes?”

In your browser, press Ctrl+H. A side panel appears, showing a history of sites you’ve visited.

In Firefox, the cursor appears in a Search box by default, so type in “shoes” and press Enter, and you’ll find sites with that word in the title or URL.

There’s also a View button. Press Alt+W, then Spacebar, and you can organize your browser history window by site, date, most visited, or most recently visited instead of the default that shows a combination of date and site.

When you’re done with the history sidebar, press Ctrl+H to toggle it off.

F11: Full screen mode (Firefox)

In Firefox, tap the F11 key and all of a sudden, plenty of screen clutter disappears, allowing you to view the current web page without as much distraction.

Sure, there’s the tool bar (and possibly the tab bar, if more than one tab is open) on the top, and the find bar (if open) on the bottom. But other than that, just you and your web page.

Hit F11 again to turn full-screen mode off.

Shift+Delete: Remove form auto-complete entry (Firefox)

Ever have an annoying situation in Firefox where you start filling out a form, but when it helpfully tries to finish your typing for you with some personal information, you see a typo in there? And you think, “Woah, that’s wrong — I don’t want that text ever popping up again.”

Well, here’s how to fix it.

Next time you see the auto-complete entry appear, try this: press the down arrow to highlight the entry you want to remove, then press Shift+Delete. The entry disappears.

This works in the address bar as well!

Note: The saved text will return if you enter that text again — so either don’t make that typo again, or consider disabling Firefox’s form-fill feature under Tools | Options | Privacy | Remember what I enter in Forms and the search bar.

Spacebar: Change the origin of the selection rectangle when doing a screen capture (Mac)

Since I already published a Windows shortcut today, here’s a bonus for you Mac users, with thanks again to Kevin Fox.

Suppose you’re using a Mac and you’re creating a selection rectangle in Photoshop. Normally, moving the mouse changes the size of the selection rectangle. If you hold down the Spacebar, suddenly you’re now moving the origin of the rectangle instead. (Practice this a bit to get the hang of it.)

Many of you are old hands at Photoshop and already knew that one. (You may have known it works in Windows versions of Photoshop as well, plus many other image editors on both platforms.)

Okay, so here’s the new bit: If you use OS X, as of 10.5, when you press Command+Shift+4 to capture part of the screen, you can now use the Spacebar trick to switch between resizing and changing the origin point.

Alt+Enter: Save link (Firefox)

Suppose you’re using Firefox, and you end up on a web page with a bunch of files you want to save. You can right-click on each link, choose “Save Link As…” then click OK, then repeat over and over. What a pain!

Here’s a faster way.

First, press Tab until you get to the link you want to save. (You may have to press Tab quite a few times, depending on the page. One hint is to first scroll down so that the link you want to save is at the top of the page. Or, click on the link and drag down a little bit before letting go off the mouse button, which will select the link without clicking on it.)

Once the link you want to save is highlighted, press Alt+Enter and the Downloads window appears, showing your progress as file is saved.

Now press Alt+Tab to switch back from the Downloads window to your main browser window, or close the Downloads window (by pressing Ctrl+W or Alt+F4).

Now you can repeat: Tab, Alt+Enter, Alt+F4, Tab, Alt+Enter, Alt+F4 — and keep repeating until all the files are saved.

(By the way, in Internet Explorer, pressing Alt+Enter just does the same thing as Enter — it follows the link as if you clicked on it. In many other applications, we saw previously that Alt+Enter opens the Properties menu.)

Shift+Option+Volume Up/Down keys: Fine volume control on a Mac

So lately the “…of the Day” portion of this blog’s title has been a big lie. I figure, why not make the “Windows” part a lie too? My friend Kevin “Fury” Fox just sent me this tip for Mac users:

If you hold down Shift and Option while using the keyboard volume keys, you can increase or decrease the volume in quarter steps.

Normally there are 17 levels of volume. If you use Shift+Option, you can get 64 levels of volume — great for when you want something just a little bit louder or softer.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a Mac, and haven’t used one in 10 years, so I have no personal experience with this.

Shift+F1: What is this?

Major applications support Shift+F1 to let you know what a particular part of the screen is about. Hit Shift+F1 and your point turns into an arrow with a question mark (presuming your application supports this feature). Then click on something you want to know about, and some contextual help will appear.

One key to get to your favorite web site

We’ve covered custom keyboard shortcuts before, but today I’m going to focus on how to call up your favorite web site with just one keystroke. We’ll review some previously covered keyboard shortcuts along the way.

  1. Minimize everything and show the Desktop with Windows+D. The Desktop appears.
  2. Call up the shortcut menu with Shift+F10. A shortcut menu appears. (This won’t work if you have a desktop item selected. Another way to do this step is to just right-click on an empty part of the desktop.)
  3. Use the arrow keys and Enter to select the New command, or press the W key to select New (since the w is underlined, that’s the shortcut key). A sub-menu appears.
  4. Select “Shortcut” by using the down arrow and Enter. The Create Shortcut dialog box appears.
  5. Enter in the URL for your favorite web site. Include the http:// part, so for example, enter in if you want to visit Press Alt+N to click the Next button. The “Select a Title for the Program” screen appears.
  6. Type in a title for this shortcut (it doesn’t really matter what you type). For example, you could type “TiVo” if you entered Then press Enter to Finish. The shortcut appears on the desktop.
  7. Press the first letter of the title you just entered. You may have to hit that letter more than once if you have multiple items on your Desktop all named with the same first letter. Eventually your item is selected.
  8. Press Alt+Enter to get the Properties menu for this item.
  9. Press Tab to select the Shortcut Key text box. Enter in a keystroke you’d like to use to call up this item. For TiVo, for example, you might enter Ctrl+Alt+T. Your keystroke must use either Ctrl+Alt, Ctrl+Shift, or Shift+Alt.
  10. Press Enter to finish creating the shortcut to your favorite web site with your custom shortcut key.

Try it! Press your custom keystroke and notice how a web browser appears and your web page is loaded.

Now write down your new shortcut on a sticky note so you don’t forget and so you get in the habit of using it!

Note: If you create more than one shortcut with the same keystroke, the first shortcut created has priority.

…of the Week

Four-month-olds are pretty challenging, and there’s little free time right now, so for a while longer we’re going to keep this as a “Windows Keyboard Shortcut of the Week” blog. Sorry for the inconvenience, and I do aim to return to daily comments when I can.