Shortcuts and hotkeys are keyboard options that allow for some speedy and effective moving between screens and applications when you`re on a computer. Not only do shortcuts and hotkeys provide a means to kick-start applications quickly, but they also give you an opportunity to ditch the mouse and to move around menus and windows with the keyboard alone.
This is useful, firstly because sometimes you won`t have access to a mouse, but also because spending long periods of time utilizing a mouse for your computer needs can lead to tendon problems due to the movements involved.
Keyboard shortcuts are essentially particular combinations of keys that when pressed cause an action to occur. So, for example, when you press the CTRL and C buttons down together at the same time in say, a Word processor program, you`ll be able to copy a selected portion of text, whilst CTRL and X allows you to cut that text.
A hotkey is similar in that it`s another way to save time but instead requires a menu to be open. On the menu, highlighted letters show the keyboard command needed to access that menu option. For example, if the File menu is open, pressing S could activate the Save option and store the user`s current work. Underlined parts of words, for example on Microsoft programs, provide a hint that a hotkey could be used on that particular menu.
Both functions are of particular use not only for saving time (studies have suggested that you can complete work at 10 times the speed by using shortcuts and hotkeys rather than a mouse), but also for users who may have difficulty when using a mouse. For instance, shortcuts are handy for disabled users who rely more on the functionality of a keyboard than on the mouse for manipulating their computers.
There are lots of keyboard shortcuts available, but some are used on a more regular basis than others. Aside from the CTRL with C, V and X shortcuts previously mentioned, common shortcuts include ALT and TAB together to allow you to navigate between open windows, whilst CTRL and F4 and ALT 4 are useful for opening and closing apps or documents.
Other useful CTRL-based shortcuts include teaming CTRL with A for all items or text selection, with ESC to bring up the Start menu or CTRL with Z to undo. Perhaps the most famous is the `last resort` shortcut, CTRL, ALT and DEL, which typically begins the Task Manager in Windows.
You can assign programs to open when you use a shortcut yourself. Find the application on the Start menu and then right-click on it to enter its properties box. From there you should click on the shortcut tab and, in the relevant box, hold down the necessary buttons you want the key to start that application. Click apply to save this shortcut to the program command and you should be able to press the selected keyboard buttons to launch the desired program.
The actual keyboard command used can vary. For Paint, for example, you could use CTRL, ALT and P, but as long as you use a combination of at least two of CTRL, ALT or SHIFT and then a character of your choice, things should work fine. You might go on to create shortcuts for an array of programs to make your computing life simpler and quicker, such as a web browser shortcut so you can access websites like college.com easier.