Posts Tagged ‘Software’

Forget the mouse – keyboard shortcuts

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Have you ever been completing a monotonous task that involves typing a bit then moving the cursor to another area of the document? Been typing a long document and have to keep stopping to click on different toolbars and options?

Maybe something has gone wrong and the mouse has stopped working.  Do you carry on regardless or have to stop everything because of a faulty mechanical rodent?

Don’t worry, help is at hand.  Do you know it is possible to access almost every menu, option and tool on your computer with the press of a key, as well as the click of a mouse button?  Here are a few of the most used options which should help make life a little easier.

The Windows Key – this can be found on most keyboards to the left of the space bar.  It has the Microsoft Windows symbol on it. This will open the Start Menu and you can then navigate using the cursor (arrow) keys (to the right of the main keyboard).  When you have highlighted your item, press enter.  To open a sub-menu (like All programs) press the right arrow.  Don’t have a Windows key? Control + Escape does the same thing.

Selecting text – Use the Shift key.  This can be found to the bottom right and left of the keyboard with an upwards pointing arrow on it.  Hold the Shift key down and at the same time use the cursor (arrow) keys to move along the text.

To select whole words, hold Shift + Ctrl and use the cursor keys.

To select whole lines use Shift + End or Home (can be found to the top right of the main keyboard section)

Copy, Cut & Paste – once you have selected your text you may wish to copy or cut it to do this use Control + C to copy or Control + X to cut.  To paste the text back use Control + V

Menus – most menus can also be accessed via the keyboard.  Any time you see a menu item with a letter underlined, this is the shortcut key for that item when used with the Alt key (next to the spacebar).  This will vary between applications but in Microsoft Office for example,  Alt+F will open the file menu and allow you to scroll down through print, save etc. If you are using Office 2007 or 2010, just pressing the Alt key will show you all the relevant keyboard short cut keys. Ctrl+P will open the print menu and Ctrl+S the Save menu in almost all applications.

Made a mistake? Ctrl+Z will undo your last action and Ctrl+Y will redo it. How many actions this will work for depends on the application but it can be a useful ‘get out of jail’ card!

Moving between documents – pressing Alt+Tab will take you through all the documents you have open.

The right-click menu. Some modern keyboards have a special key to the right of the spacebar for this, it has a symbol like a square with horizontal lines and an arrow, but if you don’t have this key it can also be accessed using Shift+F10.

The F (function) keys are located along the top of the keyboard and all have their own uses both on their own and when used in conjunction with the Shift and Control keys. F1 will usually open Help for the application you are in, F4 will close the application, F5 will refresh the view you are looking at.

Hopefully this has given a taster of the options available!

Do you know what you’re downloading?

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

We all download software, tools and utilities from the Internet. Maybe you need to do something as a one-off, want to trial some software or find a free tool that might be useful.

But do you know exactly what you are downloading and where it is coming from?  Is the site reputable?  Are there other things that might be included in your download apart from the particular item you require?

There are a few hints and tips you can use to check your downloads are not going to catch you out!

Check the reputation of the site

Use a free web browser security tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor which will stop you inadvertently going to a site known for viruses, spam, malware and other nasties.  As well as blocking known dodgy sites it will also display symbols next to your search results showing which links are safe to follow and which you should treat with caution.

What are you downloading?

It’s easy to get distracted by the wonderful advertising and wording on some sites.  If you are downloading something which is supposed to be free, be wary of entering any payment details or too much personal information.  You may find yourself subscribing to a service you don’t want and which is difficult to cancel.  Sometimes you can find yourself following 2 or 3 links before you finally think you’ve found your download link only to find it’s for something else, so double check before clicking the download button.

Check the small print

Read through the license agreements and any small print before clicking the ‘Agree’ button.  Check what any information you enter will be used for and the license terms for the software or downloads.  There are lots of things which can be downloaded and used for personal use but not for commercial purposes for example.

Only install what you need

When you’ve found your file, on a reputable site, and it’s been downloaded you may think you’re home and dry, but there are still some things to look out for.  Read the installation instructions carefully.  Watch out for tick boxes that relate to other items such as unrelated toolbars, security products and search tools.  These items are generally not related to the software you are installing and can use up resources on the PC.


If there is a piece of software or a utility that you want and it’s not available free of charge then you are unlikely to find a copy or a key code on the Internet.  There are crack-sites out there offering serial numbers or free downloads of games and software but normally all you’ll end up with are viruses, malware and spam.  Most software manufacturers are wise to the trade in illegitimate software and keycodes.  Most applications need to be authenticated online before they will work and once the key has been used once or twice it won’t work again without speaking to the manufacturer and providing proof of purchase.

On the plus side there are lots of open source and free applications available to download from reputable websites and as long as you take care over which sites you visit and what you download then have fun experimenting with some new applications!