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.
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:
||Letters which should be typed exactly as they appear.
||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.
||Specifies a single key with the given label. For example, <Alt>,
<Tab>, <Print Screen>, <S>. <Space> will be used
to represent the space bar.
||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>.
||Indicates key sequences that should be typed separately, in order.
The first thing we need to know is how to open and close programs and
how to shut down Windows, using just the keyboard. The first keystroke
you need to learn is <Ctrl>-<Esc>. This will pop up the Start
Menu. From there, if you know the filename of the program you want to run,
it is easiest to type R and then type the filename of the program,
followed by <Enter>. Otherwise, type P to open the Programs
submenu. In each menu you can either use the up or down arrows to move
to the item you want, or type the first letter of the item. To open the
next menu level, either press the right arrow or <Enter>. To back
up from a menu, press the left arrow. When you finally reach the program
you want to open, press <Enter>. Note: If you are pressing the first
letter of menu items to select them and that letter is unique in that menu,
the item will automatically open.
The fastest way to close a program that's active is to press <Alt>-<F4>.
Another way of closing a program is with the Close Program window. Press
<Ctrl>-<Alt>-<Delete> (only from in Windows, and be
sure to only press it once!) to get to Close Program. Then use
the arrow keys to highlight the program
you want to close, and press <Alt>-E to End it. Note:
Two programs -- Explorer and Systray -- should not be closed in this way.
They have special functions in Windows 95.
To shut down Windows:
|Press <Ctrl>-<Esc> to open the Start Menu.|
|Type U to get to the Shut Down dialog.|
|If you want to go into DOS Mode, type M at this time.|
|Type Y to confirm.|
An alternate way to shut down Windows is:
|Press <Ctrl>-<Alt>-<Delete> to open the Close Program
|Press <Alt>-S to Shut Down.|
If you want to switch from one program to another without closing the
current program, hold down <Alt> or <Shift>-<Alt>, and
then press <Tab> repeatedly. This will display a gray box containing
icons for all the programs that are running, and the selected program will
have a box around its icon as well as its name displayed in a box below.
Once you have selected the program you want to switch to, let go of the
Nearly all Windows programs share the same keyboard input methods. The
only things you need to remember are when to use the <Alt> key, where
you can use the arrow keys, and to read underlined letters in labels.
If you look at the menu bar in any
application (such as your Web browser), you will see that each menu heading
has a letter that is underlined. To open the menu, simply press <Alt>-underlined
Inside most menus, you will see that each item in the menu also has
an underlined letter. This time, let go of the <Alt> key and just
type underlined letter to select that item. (You could also use
the up or down arrow keys to highlight
the item and then press <Enter>, but that would be slower.)
If you want to move from one menu to another, you can press the left
or right arrow keys. If you wish to close a menu without selecting anything
in it, press the <Esc> key. Press <Esc> again to remove the
highlight from the menu
The control menu is a very useful
item when you can't use the mouse; in fact, its primary purpose is to give
you keyboard control over the window layout. To open the control
menu, press <Alt>-<Space>. (The reason the control menu
button in Windows 3.x looks like is
to remind you of the space bar.) The most useful function in the control
menu is the Move command. Even if your mouse is working, you
may need to use this keyboard method if you can't access the title
bar of the window:
Moving a Window That Is Off-Screen
If a window somehow gets moved so that the title bar is no longer within
the display, it is impossible to get it back into place using the mouse.
Fortunately, you can use this keyboard shortcut to retrieve the window:
|Press <Alt>-<Space> to open the control
|then type M for Move.|
The mouse cursor will change to a four-pointed arrow, but don't move
|Press the arrow keys in the direction you wish to move the window.|
You will see a gray outline of the window moving in steps across the screen.
|Once you have the outline at the spot you want the window to be (make
sure you can at least see the top edge of the box), press <Enter>
to set the window in place.|
Sometimes a window is so far off the screen that you can't see any bit
of it and have no idea in which direction it should be moved. In this case,
you can press <Alt>-<Space>, X to Maximize
the window, causing it to move to and fill the desktop.
At that point, you may choose to leave the window maximized and use it.
Or, you can find out where the window came from by pressing <Alt>-<Space>,
R to Restore it. Usually Windows will show an animated
box that runs from the window's old position to its new position. Watch
carefully for this box, and note in which direction it is going. Once you
know where it went, you can use the procedure in the above paragraph to
move the window back on screen.
You can also change the size of a window with a similar procedure: Press
<Alt>-<Space>, then S for Size. Then press
the arrow key that points to the side of the window that you want to adjust.
The mouse cursor will jump to that side of the window and change to a double-pointed
arrow. Next, press the arrow keys to move a gray outline of the border
until you get it to the desired size. Finally, press <Enter> to set
the window at its new size.
In dialog boxes, nearly all buttons
will have un underlined letter in the label. To activate the button, simply
press <Alt>-underlined letter. Is certain instances, such
as when there are no text boxes in the dialog, simply pressing the underlined
letter is sufficient. For example, in this dialog box:
you can press Y for Yes, or N for No.
Most dialogs will have a default button
(for example, "OK") which is identified with a darker border
around the button and perhaps also a dotted box around the label. For example,
the "Yes" button in the above dialog is the default. To
choose the default button, you can simply
press <Enter>. Some dialogs will also have a "Cancel" button,
which closes the dialog without performing any action. To cancel a dialog,
you can press the <Esc> key.
Moving From Field to Field in Dialogs
In application windows and dialog
boxes that have many different controls, there are a couple of different
ways to get to the control you want. The easiest way is if the label of
the control has an underlined letter. In this case, simply press <Alt>-underlined
letter to go to, or activate, the control.
Another way of getting around is to press the <Tab> key or <Shift>-<Tab>.
This will move the keyboard focus (indicated by a dotted box) from one
control to the next in sequence (using the <Shift> key will move
the focus backwards in sequence.) Take the following dialog box for an
Note that pressing the <Tab> key the focus moves from the radio
buttons to the selection tree (it's
difficult to see, but it does put a dotted line around the highlighted
item "Computer"), then to each of the buttons
in turn, then to the tabs, and from there
back to the radio buttons. You could
also select one of the radio buttons
or the first four buttons by pressing
its underlined letter. If the focus is not on any of the buttons,
you could select "OK" by pressing <Enter>. And you can
always cancel the dialog box by pressing
Normally you can't get directly to a scroll
bar with the keyboard because the focus or keyboard cursor stays inside
the box that is being scrolled. That is not a problem, however, because
all you need to do is use the arrow keys to move around inside the box,
and when the cursor tries to go past the edge, the box will automatically
scroll in that direction. You can also use the <Page Up> or <Page
Down> keys to quickly scroll vertically. In same cases, pressing <Ctrl>-<Page
Up> and <Ctrl>-<Page Down> will let you scroll the box left
and right, respectively.
To open a list box, press <Alt>-<down
arrow>. (This is why the button at the end of the box looks like .)
You can then use the up or down arrow keys to highlight
the item you want, or simply press the first letter of that item, which
is faster. To confirm your selection, you can either press <Enter>
or <Alt>-<up arrow> (being the opposite of <Alt>-<down
If the list box is also an edit
box, you may find it easier to type in your choice, even if it's on
There are two types of selection
boxes: those in which you must select exactly one item, and those where
you can select multiple items. In boxes that expect a single item to be
selected, you can simply either use the up or down arrow keys to highlight
the item you want, or type in the first letter of that item.
In boxes where multiple items are desired, things get a bit more complicated.
You can still select single items using the above method. If you want to
select a range of items that are adjacent to each other, go to the first
item in the set, then hold down the <Shift> key and press
the up or down arrows to cover the rest of the items. Do not let go of
<Shift> until you have reached the last item you wish to select.
If you want to highlight items that
are not adjacent to each other, you must hold down the <Ctrl>
key, press the up or down arrows to go to each item you're interested in,
then press <Space> to highlight
or unhighlight that item, and repeat the process until you're done. Remember,
don't let go of the <Ctrl> key until you are finished.
Trees behave similarly to other selection
boxes, with a couple of additions. First, typing a letter will only
take you to items that begin with that letter if they are showing in the
list (in other words, their parent items have a '-' in the box.) Second,
you can open a branch which has a '+' in its box by either typing +
or <right arrow>. (Pressing <right arrow> again on a branch
that shows a '-' will take you to the first item within that branch, which
accomplishes the same thing as pressing <down arrow>.) To close a
branch that shows a '-' in its box, you can either press - or
<left arrow>. Pressing the <left arrow> anywhere else will
jump you to the parent of the branch you were in.
To toggle the state of a check box
from checked to unchecked or vice-versa, just press <Space>. If its
label has an underlined letter, of course, it is easier to press <Alt>-underlined
letter to go to and toggle the check at once.
To select a radio button, you can
use the arrow keys to go from one button to the next within the group.
If the label of the button you want has an underlined letter, of course,
it is easier to press <Alt>-underlined letter.
When the focus is on the slider (by
pressing <Tab> or the underlined letter), you can use the
arrow keys to move it from one end to the other.
When you have the focus on the current tab,
use the left or right arrow keys to go to the next adjacent tab.
If there are so many tabs that they take up more than one row, you can
also use the <up arrow> key to move quickly from one row to the next.
Also See info on Windows 3.x