This post was inspired by the excellent Ask Jack article about how to be more productive when using a computer, and is dedicated to my Mum, who wanted me to write down all the “magic buttons” I use to control her computer annoyingly quickly.
Why are keyboard shortcuts useful as a dyslexia coping strategy?
First, dyslexics need to work out how to save time when working, and using keyboard shortcuts is faster than using the mouse. For example pressing Ctrl+S is several seconds faster than clicking on the file ribbon and then clicking on save, and those seconds add up over the course of the working week. Second, I think using keyboard shortcuts is less likely to lead to repetitive strain injury, especially when you make use of the shortcuts for selecting text, like using Ctrl+A to select all. Third, keyboard shortcuts are more accurate than mouse pointing and clicking, leading to fewer mistakes, once again saving time. All of these reasons to use keyboard shortcuts are enhanced by an ability to touch type.
Keyboard Shortcut Summary
The first group of keyboard shortcuts involve pressing the Ctrl key, keeping it held down, and then pressing another key, generally a letter. I think some of the most useful are:
- Ctrl+C to copy selected text,
- Ctrl+V to paste selected text, and
- Ctrl+X to cut selected text.
But how to remember these while getting used to them? Well, I find it easy to remember Ctrl+C as copying, and Ctrl+X as cutting also makes sense to me, perhaps in a “kiss it goodbye” way, but also because it is key on the left-hand side of the C key, on the bottom row of the keyboard. The difficult one is Ctrl+V, but it makes much more sense when you realize the V key is on the right-hand side of the C key. (If you use a qwerty keyboard.)
Also useful are:
- Ctrl+Z to undo,
- Ctrl+Y to redo,
- Ctrl+S to save,
- Ctrl+A to select all text,
- Ctrl+B to make the selected text bold, or not bold, and
- Ctrl+I to make the selected text italic, or not italic.
The second group I use a lot when editing text, and involve the Home and End keys.
- End to go to the end of the line,
- Shift+End to highlight the text from the current cursor position to the end of the line,
- Ctrl+End to go to the end of the last line, i.e. the end of the document,
- Ctrl+Shift+End to highlight the text from the current cursor position to the end of the last line, i.e. the end of the document; and likewise
- Home to go to the start of the line,
- Shift+Home to highlight the text from the current cursor position to the start of the line, and
- Ctrl+Home to go to the start of the first line, i.e. the start of the document, and
- Ctrl+Shift+Home to highlight the text from the current cursor position to the start of the first line, i.e. the start of the document.
These short cuts work really well in conjunction with the Arrow keys, and greatly improve text selection accuracy.
The third group involves the function or Fn keys, and are most useful in Windows Explorer folders:
- F2 to rename,
- F3 to search for a file or folder, and
- F5 to refresh a window (or Ctrl+R, both work in Internet browsers too).
Finally, the last group I’ll cover today are most helpful in moving or closing windows and include my favourite “magic buttons”:
- Alt+F4 to close the active window, or Windows itself if there is no active window,
and also several shortcuts based on the Windows key, normally somewhere near the bottom left of the keyboard:
- WinKey+L to lock the computer,
- WinKey+M to minimize all active windows,
- WinKey+Shift+M to maximize all active windows, and
- WinKey then typing what you want to search for or run.