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How To Get Around Windows Without the Mouse

One of the nice features about Windows is that you can do just about anything with the mouse except for typing, and anything with the keyboard except paint. Learning to use both devices independently can make you more productive because you can choose the input method that is more efficient for a given task; in fact, for programs that you know well you may find that using the keyboard can be more than twice as fast as the mouse. And then there are times when you lose use of the keyboard or mouse, either because it's broken or the drivers are not installed correctly or what have you, and you're forced to use one device alone until the other can be fixed. If you know how, you won't get stuck.

No Keyboard

It actually is possible to type some things with the mouse if your keyboard isn't working. In the Accessories group (from the Program Manager in Windows 3.x or the Start Menu in Windows 95) there is a nifty little utility called Character Map. When you open this program, it will show a table of all the characters available in a particular font. The primary purpose of this program is to give you access to foreign language and special characters, but it also has a nice side benefit. Using the mouse, double-click on each letter, in turn, that you would type if the keyboard were working. The characters are arranged in the copy box. When you have the complete word or phrase you want, click on the Copy button. Then go to the window where you want to put the text (such as a Save As dialog box for the document you've been working on for the last hour), click the right mouse button at the point you want the text to go, and click on Paste from the menu. Or, if the pop-up menu isn't available, click on the Edit menu of the application and then click on Paste. 


When describing keyboard commands, the following shorthand notation will be used:

TEXT Letters which should be typed exactly as they appear.
something Description of what to type in, which is up to you and varies depending on the context. For example, filename would mean to type the name of the file you are working with.
<Key> Specifies a single key with the given label. For example, <Alt>, <Tab>, <Print Screen>, <S>. <Space> will be used to represent the space bar.
<Modifier>-<Key> Means that two or more keys should be pressed simultaneously. The first key(s) in the set are held down, then the last key is pressed, then all keys are released. For example, <Ctrl>-<Alt>-<Delete>.
<Key>, <Key> Indicates key sequences that should be typed separately, in order.

Windows 3.x

The first thing we need to know is how to open and close programs and how to exit Windows, using just the keyboard. To do that, we need the Program Manager.

First, press <Ctrl>-<Esc>. This should pop up a little program called Task Manager, which lists all the programs that are currently running. Select Program Manager by using the arrow keys or typing the letter P. Then you can switch to it by pressing <Alt>-S.

To start a program, first you need to get to the group window that program is in. If that group isn't already active, you can switch between group windows in two ways: first, you could press <Ctrl>-<Tab> or <Shift>-<Ctrl>-<Tab>, which would take you from one group to the next until you get to the one you want. Alternatively, you could access the Window menu by pressing <Alt>-W, then type the number shown in front of the group you want. (There is only room for nine groups in the menu, so if your group isn't on that list, press M for More Windows. Then type the first letter of the group you want to reach until it is highlighted, and finally press <Enter>.) Once in the desired group, you can either use the arrow keys to move the highlight to the program you want, or type the first letter of the program until it is highlighted. (Windows will select each icon in turn that begins with that letter.) Once you're there, press <Enter> to open the program.

The fastest way to close a program that's active is to press <Alt>-<F4>. Exiting out of windows is done the same way: press <Alt>-<F4> when you're at the Program Manager. Another way of closing a program is with the Task Manager: Press <Ctrl>-<Esc> to open the Task Manager, then use the arrows or the first letter of the program to select it, and finally press <Alt>-E to End the program. This brings up a very useful function:

Closing Windows Blindly

If you can't see Windows for some reason (for example, the monitor died or your display settings are incorrect), you should know how to close Windows safely:

Press <Ctrl>-<Esc> to open the Task Manager.
Type P to select the Program Manager.
Press <Alt>-E to End it.
Press <Enter> to confirm that you want to exit Windows.

If Windows is responding properly (even though you can't see it), you should find yourself at the DOS prompt in a few seconds. (This is presuming that there are no other programs running whose names start with the letter P, and that no other program is going to stop and ask you to save your work before exiting.)

If you want to switch from one program to another without closing the current program, there are a couple of ways to go about it. The easiest way is to hold down <Alt> or <Shift>-<Alt>, and then press <Tab> repeatedly. This will display a short gray box with the name of each open program in turn. Once you see the name of the program you want to switch to, let go of the <Alt> key. The second way involves the Task Manager (a very useful program!) Press <Ctrl>-<Esc> to open the Task Manager, then use the arrows or the first letter of the program to select it, and finally press <Alt>-S to Switch to that program.

Also see further info on Windows 9x/NT



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