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!


Back to the Basics: ALT + tab

Have you ever watched someone who is extremely computer savvy and felt envious as they effortlessly navigated their computer before you even knew what they were doing?  Yeah, me neither…  Okay, maybe it has happened a couple of times!  These people are so efficient with technology that they are capable of navigating the computer without a mouse in absolutely no time at all.  I dream of being able to do this but am not quite there… my mouse will lives another day 🙂  The first step to going mouse-free is to learn a few shortcut key stokes; let’s start with one of my most used shortcut key strokes: ALT + tab (see below).  Mac users: Command + tab  altIf you have never used this shortcut, then prepare to have your mind blown!  This bad boy switches between programs/windows opened on your computer.  So let’s say you have Microsoft Excel and Internet Explorer open, you can quickly jump from one program to the other by holding down ALT and pressing tab.  If you quickly release ALT after hitting tab, you will be taken back to the last active program you were using, very convenient if you need to work in several programs at once.  OR another amazing way to use this shortcut is by continuing to hold the ALT button after hitting tab; a little window will appear with ALL of your current active programs on your computer.  From here, you can either use the arrows, while continuing to hold the ALT button, to select the program you would like to work in, or you can press tab over and over, while continuing to hold the ALT button, to toggle through the programs until you find the one you want.  Once you have the program you would like active, release the ALT button.  Such a simple and yet powerful shortcut for working more efficiently!  And remember, all computer geeks started somewhere, and now you are one step closer to being like them!  Please comment below or send me a message if you have any questions.  I value your feedback.