Ctrl+0: Hide Columns in Excel (Ctrl+Shift+0 to Unhide Columns)

Similar to yesterday’s tip, you can press Ctrl+0 to hide the column where the cursor is located. Ctrl+A, Ctrl+Shift+0 unhides all the columns in the sheet.

Update on January 5, 2014:

This keyboard sequence is used for changing your language by Windows, preventing it from working in Excel. If you’re running an older version of Windows, see Guilherme’s comment below.

In Windows 7, try this to get this shortcut to work in Excel:

1. Run the Control Panel, and select Region and Language.
2. Select the “Advanced Key Settings” tab.
3. Select the “Between input languages” item, then press Alt+C to select the Change Key Sequence item.
4. Under “Switch Keyboard Layout” make sure that “Not Assigned” is selected, then select OK and OK.

That will fix ALL keyboard shortcut items that involve Ctrl+Shift.

Ctrl+9: Hide Rows in Excel (Ctrl+Shift+9 to Unhide)

We’ll hit some more Excel tips this week.

In Excel, move somewhere in a row you want to hide and press Ctrl+9. The entire current row is hidden (and you don’t need to select the entire row, just have your cursor somewhere in the row).

Remember you can use Shift+Up Arrow or Shift+Down Arrow to select while moving; this way, you can select cells on several rows. Once you have cells from more than one row selected, all of those rows are hidden when you press Ctrl+9.

Next, try this: Press Ctrl+A to select the worksheet, then press Ctrl+Shift+9 — also known as Ctrl+( — to unhide all of the rows that are hidden.

Keystrokes during a PowerPoint Slideshow Presentation

We already covered pressing F5 to begin the presentation. Doubtless you know already that pressing space or page down or practically any key advances to the next slide, and that PageUp or P or Left Arrow or Up Arrow go the previous slide.

Did you know there were quite a few things you can do during a presentation too?

During the presentation, press F1 to see a list of the keystrokes available.

The most useful ones are:

  • Type a number and press Enter to go to that slide. For example, typing 15, Enter jumps to slide 15.
  • Press B or the period key to turn the screen black. Press it again to return to the current slide.
  • Press W or the comma key to turn the screen white. Press it again to return to the current slide.
  • Press Ctrl+P to get a Pen pointer, allowing you to use the mouse to draw on the slide. (These drawings are NOT saved.)
  • Press E to erase the drawings (or just go to the next slide).
  • Press Ctrl+A to return to the standard Arrow pointer
  • Press A to hide the arrow pointer (invisible cursor)
  • Press Shift+F10 for a menu of these and other options.

General PowerPoint tips: Tab to select objects, arrows to move them, Ctrl+M for new slide

In general in PowerPoint, you can get a lot done with the Tab key and the arrows keys.

If you’re entering text, first press Esc to cancel text entering mode. Then press the Tab key; every time you press Tab, you’ll select a different object. (This is invaluable to switch between the title and the text body, for example.) When an object is selected, the arrow keys will move it.

While moving an object, it will snap to the grid unless you hold down the Ctrl key.

To insert a new slide and start typing without using the mouse, try these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+M to insert a new slide.
  2. Press F6 to select the slide. (Each time you press F6 it switches between the open panes on the interface.)
  3. Press Tab to select the title box. Type your title.
  4. Press Esc to cancel text entry.
  5. Press Tab to select the text box. Type your text.

The above keystrokes get easier with practice, and soon you can be in PowerPoint Power Typing mode!

Ctrl+T: Change Font (in PowerPoint)

It’s PowerPoint week this week at the Windows Keyboard Shortcut of the Day.

Today’s tip is quite handy when entering or editing text in PowerPoint: Press Ctrl+T to bring up the Font dialog box, where you can edit the font face, style, size, color, and special effects.

(One wonders why this eminently handly tip isn’t usable in Word, Excel, or Outlook. In Word, it’s useful for the hanging indent function — but how often do you use that? In Excel, it seems to do nothing at all. In Outlook, it functions just like the Tab key, so that’s a waste.)

F7: Spell Check (Microsoft Office)

In most Microsoft Office apps (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook), tap F7 to begin the spellcheck process.

In the spellecheck dialog box, don’t forget to use Alt plus an underlined letter to hit the button! Using Alt+A to Add a correct word (such as your last name) to your custom dictionary is smart because it saves time in two ways — now, by saving you from having to use your mouse to hit the button, and later, by preventing this correctly spelled word from ever wasting your time again.

Ctrl+[, Ctrl+]: Increase, decrease font size in Word, Outlook & PowerPoint

If you have selected text and want to change its point size, you can easily do so with a simple keystroke: Ctrl+[ (the square bracket key next to the letter P on most keyboards) will lower the selected text by 1 point. Tap it a few times to see the effect. Similarly, Ctrl+] increases the text size.

You can also use Ctrl+< and Ctrl+> — but while that may be easier to remember, you have to use the Shift key, so I prefer the square brackets. Also, that keystroke doesn’t work in Outlook.

(If you need to, you can review how to select text with the keyboard.)

Excel doesn’t allow any of these keystrokes. Excel is a bit of a fuddy-duddy that way, refusing to play along.

Ctrl+L: Left justify, Ctrl+R: Right justify, Ctrl+E: Center, Ctrl+J: Justify

If you’re using Word, Outlook or PowerPoint, you can change the justification of a paragraph using the following four keystrokes:

  • Ctrl+L: Left justify the current paragraph, but keep the right margin ragged
  • Ctrl+R: Right justify the current paragraph.
  • Ctrl+E: Center the current paragraph (since Ctrl+C is already taken with Copy, they had to use the second letter.)
  • Ctrl+J: Left justify the current paragraph, but keep the right margin justified

What does “justification” mean? Nothing to do with justice. I’m not sure why justification is called what it is. But that’s what it’s called; for more, check out wikipedia’s entry on justification.

This is left (Ctrl+L).

This is centered (Ctrl+E).

This is right (Ctrl+R).

This paragraph is fully justified, which means the right margin is in a straight line. The rest of this paragraph is just nonsense text. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

This paragraph is left-justified, which means the right margin is uneven, or “ragged.” The rest of this paragraph is just nonsense text. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum

Quite a few other applications alllow the use of these four keystrokes as well. But not Excel.

Ctrl+Shift+P: Select Point Size of Font (in Microsoft Office apps)

Similar to yesterday’s tip, Ctrl+Shift+P will jump your cursor in the font size (also known as “point size,” thus the letter P for the keyboard shortcut) box on the Formatting toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Once there, type in a number such as 18 and press Enter. Whatever text is selected will change to the new size; if no text is selected, whatever you type next will be at the new size.

Ctrl+Shift+F: Select Font (in Microsoft Office apps)

Using Excel, Word, or PowerPoint? Have the Formatting toolbar visible? Good, don’t spend another second moving your mouse up to that font selection area. Instead, press Ctrl+Shift+F, and all of a sudden your cursor is in the Font selection button on the Formatting toolbar. From there you can type in the first few letters of a font name (such as ver to get “Verdana”) and press Enter, or you can press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to select the fonts one at a time. Press Alt+Down Arrow to see the pulldown menu.

Does this work with Microsoft Outlook? Alas, no. That would imply a consistency of design that, sadly, does not exist.

Ctrl+Shift+G: Flag for Follow Up in Microsoft Outlook

You may know that you can right-click on the flag icon at the end of each e-mail you have listed in Outlook. But you can more efficiently set follow-up flags using the dialog box that appears when you press Ctrl+Shift+G.

First, select an e-mail. (Remember to press F6 to make sure you’re in the e-mail plane, then use the arrow keys or home and end to select the e-mail you want to flag.)

Second, press Ctrl+Shift+G, and the Flag for Follow Up dialog box appears. Your cursor will be in the “Flag to” field. Use the up and down arrow keys to select the appropriate flag. Press Tab to flip to the flag color field. You can again use up and down arrow keys to select a color (or use Alt+Down Arrow to see the list).

Third, if you want to enter a due date, press Tab, and type in your date. You can optionally press Tab and type in a time. Then press Enter to select OK (or Esc to change your mind and cancel).

To quickly clear a flag, highlight an e-mail and press Ctrl+Shift+G, then press Alt+C to select Clear Flag. This removes the flag entirely.

To mark an item completed, highlight an e-mail and press Ctrl+Shift+G, then press Alt+O to select the “Completed” box, then press Enter.

Alt+O: Move to “Today” in Calendar

When in the Calendar view for Microsoft Outlook and browsing around different dates, you can press Alt+O and you’ll jump to today’s date.

Why does this work? On the toolbar, note the underlined “o” in the “Today” button. Any of the underlined letters can be used along with Alt instead of moving the mouse to click on the button.

Some useful shortcuts are then easy to find — Alt+I for Find, Alt+Y to go to Day view, Alt+W for Week view, Alt+M for Month view, and so on.

Ctrl+Shift+M: Start new message in Microsoft Outlook

No matter which Outlook view you’re in, Ctrl+Shift+M creates a new message.

(Remember, use Tab to move from field to field when creating your e-mail message, jumping from To to Cc to Subject to the body.)

Another way to skin that cat is to press Ctrl+1 (using the tip from yesterday), then Ctrl+N.

You can find a lot of similar shortcuts by checking out the File | New sub-menu (remember, Alt+F opens the File menu, then you can press either w (since the w in New is underlined in the menu) or Enter or the Right Arrow key to open the New menu.

Ctrl+Enter: Send e-mail

It’s Microsoft Outlook week this week.

To start things off, when sending e-mail, don’t bother clicking on that “Send” button — press Ctrl+Enter to send. You’ll need to confirm with a dialog box the first time.

(Note that this will work with many other e-mail programs as well.)

Fn+Esc: Suspend Windows

Don’t try it now! But for many laptops (not all), Fn+Esc allows you to Suspend your computer, switching it to a mode where the hard drive and screen are disabled in order to save battery power.

(Usually closing the screen accomplishes the same task, but sometimes you want to leave the screen open.)

Fn+F2: Disable wireless

Not every laptop uses this keystroke, but most seem to.

If you’re on a plane or in a hospital, you should disable your wireless receiver. Or suppose you’re riding in a train or car and you know there’s no wireless signal, you’ll increase your battery performance if you disable the wireless receiver.

Hit Fn+F2 and it’ll toggle wireless on and off. (Practice it a few times so you can recognize how the icons in the system tray appear, so you’ll know to switch it back on if you ever disable it by accident.)

Introduction to laptop keystrokes

This week we’ll talk about some common laptop shortcut keys.

Most laptops have an “Fn” (or “Function”) button, usually in the lower left, and quite often color-coded in blue. This Fn button usually is used to get alternate keystrokes, necessary because a laptop keyboard usually has fewer keys than a desktop keyboard, so more keys have to do extra duty. For example, the “J” key usually doubles as a 1 on the number pad, so Fn+J produces a 1.

On many laptops (but by no means all), the function keys across the top center double as special laptop controls when used with the Fn button.

You’re no doubt familiar with the Fn+F8 key to toggle on the external monitor. This isn’t universal, but it’s pretty common. (I’ve also seen laptops that use Fn+F7 for the same purpose.)

Usually Fn+F8 cycles between the following three modes:

  1. Laptop monitor only
  2. Laptop monitor plus external monitor
  3. External monitor only

Windows key+Break: Show System Properties

Chances are you’ve got this “Break” key on your keyboard in the upper center (it might be located with the “Pause” key) and you’ve never used it. It sure doesn’t do much. Well, if you press that Windows key plus the Break key, you get the System Properties control panel, which (among other things) tells you how much memory your computer has. With a couple of presses of the Ctrl+Tab key to change tabs in the dialog box, you can view your hardware devices and make sure they’re working, change your computer name, or a few other administrative tasks.

Windows key+E: Show Windows Explorer

Personally, I use this one many times a day: Pressing the Windows key plus the letter E runs the Windows Explorer, which lets you browse files on your computer.

Once you have the Explorer running, you can navigate the directory tree on the left with the arrow keys. Up and down move up and down the items; to expand one of the plus signs press the right arrow. Left arrow jumps up to the top of the current directory tree, and then pressing it again closes the current directory if you’re at the top of a directory.

Press Tab to cycle between the directory tree (on the left), the address bar (at the top, where you can type in a location such as “C:\music”), the file list (on the right), and the menu bar.

In the directory tree or the file list, pressing a letter jumps down to the next file or directory in the list that begins with that letter.

Remember, you can use Shift plus arrows to select files in a group. (You can also Ctrl+left click to select arbitrary files. You can press Ctrl+Spacebar to do the same, and keep the Ctrl held down while you use the arrow keys to move up and down the file list while moving to the next file.)

Press Delete to delete the selected file or directory (or more than one if you have selected more than one). Anything deleted will go to the trash. However, pressing Shift+Delete will delete the file permanently, without it going to the trash. You can also copy selected files by press Ctrl+C (and then Ctrl+V in a new directory to paste them, finishing the copy). Or, substitute Ctrl+X for Ctrl+C to move the selected files.

Alt+Prnt Scrn: Copy Screenshot of Current Window to Clipboard

Most people know that if you press the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard (which may be labelled “Prnt Scrn”) you’ll capture a screenshot of everything on your screen.

However, you may not know that if you press Alt+Prnt Scrn, you get a copy of only the currently selected window. You won’t get the taskbar or any other windows on your display. Then you can run a program (such as Microsoft Word or the Paint application included with Windows) and press Ctrl+V to paste in the screen shot.

Ctrl+H: Replace

In most applications, hitting Ctrl+H will let you do a “Find and Replace” search.

For example, in Microsoft Word: Press Ctrl+H, enter some text to search for, press Tab, enter some text to be replaced, then press Alt+A to use the “Replace All” button to replace all of the text in the document.

F8 and Shift+F8: Extend Selection in Excel

You may know that when you’re selecitng cells in Excel with the mouse, pressing the Ctrl button as you click adds the selected cells to the selection.

But, there’s an easier way. First, let’s try “Extend Mode” with F8. If you press F8, you enter Extend Mode, and now the arrow keys will extend the selection. (Of course, we already covered here that pressing Shift when you use the arrow keys does the same thing without messing around with the F8 key.)

However, this next bit’s useful. If you press Shift+F8, then you lock in the current group of selected cells, and can use the arrow keys to move to another area, and then select new cells (either using the normal Shift select method or Extend Mode).

Once the cells are selected, you can do whatever you like to them, such as bold with Ctrl+B.

Ctrl+*: Select the current data block in Excel

Normally you press Ctrl+A to select all, but that’s not always so useful in Excel since it selects the entire (gigantic) worksheet, most of which is blank.

How many times have you started to try to select your column of numbers by using the mouse and then Excel starts scrolling off the screen like mad? Before you know it, you’re down at row 30,000 and then are trying to scroll back up (all while holding down the left mouse button) only to end up scrolling too far the other way. No fun. So — don’t try to play games of dexterity with Excel. If you want to select everything in the block where your cursor is, try Ctrl+*.

F2: Edit a cell in Excel

Forget the clumsy task of clicking in the formula bar when editing a cell in Microsoft Excel. Instead, press F2 and you’ll be editing the cell right in the spreadsheet where the cell is.

Once you’re editing a cell, you can use the standard navigation keys (Home, End, Ctrl+Left Arrow, Ctrl+Right Arrow) to get to where you want, then press Enter to accept your changes (or press Esc to cancel).

For example, suppose you need to change the number “151,000” into “15,100.” Don’t retype it! Just press F2, then press Backspace to get rid of the extra zero, then press Enter. Done!

End, Arrow Key: Move by sections in Excel

Excel has a strange navigation key that’s fairly unique and takes a bit of getting used to, but once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever used Excel without it.

Load up an Excel spreadsheet for practice, and then position your cursor somewhere in the middle of some cell entries. (Remember you can use the F5 key to go to a location.)

Now press End then the Right Arrow key (one after the other). You’ll go to the rightmost entry in the column of cell entries. Hit End, Down Arrow. You’ll move down until you hit the next empty cell.

If you start in an empty cell, Excel will keep moving in the direction of the arrow key you press until it hits a non-blank cell.

Ctrl+W: Close Window

In a lot of applications, Ctrl+W will close the current window (and in the case of an application like Microsoft Word, prompt you to save the current document if it hasn’t been saved already).

Let’s see an example and put together some of the Firefox tips from this week. Suppose you’re reading a Web page and suddenly need to check a different site (for example, you’re browsing a vacation site and want to check the weather). Press Ctrl+T to open a new tab, type in the site name such as “weatherunderground,” press Ctrl+Enter to complete the URL name and load the page, find the information you need, then press Ctrl+W to close the new tab.

Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down: Change tabs

If a program or dialog box has tabs (different divided sections or pages with a label at the top), chances are that Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down will change tabs.

Try this out with Firefox and Excel to start off.

In Firefox, remember from yesterday that you can create a new tab with Ctrl+T. Now use Ctrl+Page Up to rotate through the pages (or Ctrl+Page Down to rotate the other way).

In Excel, you’ll start out with three sheets (Sheet1, Sheet2, Sheet3) when you start a new document. Ctrl+Page Down will move from Sheet1 to Sheet2 and Sheet2 to Sheet3. Ctrl+Page Up will move from Sheet3 to Sheet2 or Sheet2 to Sheet1.

For dialog boxes, if Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down don’t change tabs for you, try Ctrl+Left Arrow and Ctrl+Right Arrow, or Ctrl+Up Arrow and Ctrl+Down Arrow. Unfortunately, applications aren’t always as consistent as we’d like.

Ctrl+T: Create a new tab in Firefox

In Firefox, each tab is a separate window for browsing. You can start a new tab by pressing Ctrl+T. A new tab appears, and your cursor is put into the Address bar to type in a URL. (Remember you can type the main part of the address, such as “TiVo,” and then press Ctrl+Enter to turn it into http://www.tivo.com/ )

Ctrl+K: Search the Web in Firefox

In Firefox, press Ctrl+K and — ta da! — your cursor will jump up to the search box in the upper right. Type in a search term (such as “TiVo”) and press Enter. The search results will be displayed in the current browser window, using your default search engine.

If you want to change the search engine by choosing a different one from the pulldown list built in to Firefox, you can press Alt+Down Arrow when your cursor is in the search box, and you’ll see the pulldown menu. Use the Up or Down Arrow keys until the search engine you want is highlighted, then press Enter.

(Note that this feature is for finding web pages. If you just want to search for text on the current web page, you want to Find instead.)

Ctrl+= and Ctrl+Dash: Increase and decrease font size in Firefox and Thunderbird

Following last week’s general browser tips, here’s one that works for Firefox and Thunderbird.

  • Ctrl+=: Increase font size
  • Ctrl+Dash: Decrease font size

Press Ctrl+= (that is, the Ctrl key held down, and then the = key) and the font size on the current page or e-mail will increase.

(A lot of people write this tip as Ctrl+Plus, because the mnemonic of the + key increasing the font size is easy to remember, but you don’t need the Shift key in there.)

Ctrl+Dash (that is, the – key, or minus — the key right next to the = key) will reduce the font size.

Each time you press the key, the font gets bigger or smaller. When you want to go back to normal, press Ctrl+0. (Thanks to Steve in the comments for that last one.)
(This is a little hard to write, given the terminology I’m using. I should refer to “Control with the Plus key” as Ctrl++ and “Control with the Dash key” as Ctrl+- but that looks really weird. Sorry if today’s tip is confusing!)

Ctrl+R or F5: Refresh in Internet Explorer and Firefox

Some people like coffee and some people prefer tea. Similarly, some keyboard users are function key people, and others prefer keystroke combinations. That brings us to today’s browser tip. Sometimes you want to reload a page in your browser. (Say, for example, you’re reading a news site and want to see the latest headlines). You can hit the F5 function key, or you can press Ctrl+R.

Doesn’t matter which one you use. And it doesn’t matter if your browser is Internet Explorer or Firefox. Either way, you’re gonna get your refresh without having to use a mouse to hit that toolbar button.

And grab a cup of coffee and tea while you’re at it.

Ctrl+L: Open Location Bar/URL bar in Internet Explorer and Firefox

This week we’ll focus on browser shortcuts which work in both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

The first one is Ctrl+L. In Firefox, this jumps your cursor up to the URL bar, where you can type in a URL such as “www.google.com.” In Internet Explorer, an Open dialog box appears and you can type in a URL such as “www.google.com.”

If you want to jump your cursor up to the URL box, press Alt+D. (Thanks to Tony and Igg for the tip!)

Bonus Tip: Once your cursor is in the URL box, if you type in a word like “google” and press Ctrl+Enter, the browser will automatically expand it to the full URL name, “http://www.google.com,” (Sadly, this doesn’t work in IE’s Open dialog box.)

Ctrl+Z: Undo

It’s up to the individual application, but if an application allows you to Undo, you can generally do so with the Ctrl+Z key. Try undoing some actions with Ctrl+Z.

Check the Edit menu (Alt+E) to see if Undo is listed, and what the keyboard shortcut is that’s listed next to the Edit | Undo command.

(If your application doesn’t support Undo, you’re probably out of luck, but you can try the Esc key.)

Windows keystrokes and keyboard tricks and tips that you can use to save time