Back to the Basics: ALT

So many of you loved ALT + tab that I decided to do another Back to the Basics post.  Here is a helpful starter lesson on learning your own shortcuts.  This will be the basics for endless shortcut keystrokes!  Seriously, the possibilities seem endless!  ALT: the magic key!

Did you ever notice in older versions of Microsoft Office underlined letters in each drop-down menu option (File, Edit, etc.)?  Whether your answer is “yes”, “no”, or “Umm… what is a drop-down menu?”, let me let you in on a secret: those letters were a “secret” pathway to shortcut key strokes!  I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh great!  I missed the boat in learning more shortcuts!”

Have no fear!  They are still there but hidden (sneaky, sneaky) with the new ribbon menu design (below is the ribbon for Microsoft Word).

Okay, so let’s get started learning some new shortcuts!  Open up a new Office Word document.  See the ribbon at the top?  Watch what happens when you click ALT.  Does your ribbon look like the one below?


Hopefully, your answer is yes; if not, please message me!  Those are your shortcut letters… ta-da!  Each ribbon tab has an assigned letter.  File – F;  Home – H; etc.  For now, type H.  Do you now have a ribbon that looks similar to the one below?  Hooray!  You are now on your way to a more efficient you!  Each option under the home tab has its own unique letter.  So if you click ALT + H + B + B, you will add a bottom border to your current line in Word.  Now is your chance to play around with the different letter combinations; just give it a try!  Ribbon2

Fun fact, most other programs use ALT combinations as well!  Welcome to the secret ALT club!  Seriously, open a couple of different programs on your computer and hit ALT.  Sometimes nothing happens, but it feels like magic when shortcuts just appear on your screen!

What if you decide you do not want any ALT options and want to get out of the current shortcut keys?  Just hit ALT again.  Presto!

Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, this is not faster AT ALL!”  You are partly right, it takes time to learn shortcuts.  So here is how I learn shortcuts: I pick one or two that I will use on a consistent basis and write them on a sticky note (the physical, old school, sticky notes not the program).  I literally stick them to the top of my screen (so high tech, right?) and use it daily for a while.  Sometimes, I find that the shortcut wasn’t so useful and remove the sticky (this happens more often than you would think).  The biggest thing though is continuing to try and find new shortcut keystrokes and you will gain efficiency.  Good luck out there!

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