The University of Pennsylvania's Online Computing Magazine

PENN PRINTOUT April 1997 - Volume 13:8

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By John Mulhern III

Want to get repetitive work done quickly? Start learning some keyboard commands. For every keyboard command you learn, you could save 2-3 (or more) movements of your mouse!

Both Mac OS and Win95 have basic editing and file manipulation commands that work across almost every application. Learn them first:

Editing Commands
Function Mac shortcut Win95 shortcut
Copy Apple-C Control-C
Paste Apple-V Control-V
Cut Apple-X Control-X
Undo Apple-Z Control-Z
Select All Apple-A Control-A

File Commands
Function Mac shortcut Win95 shortcut
Save Apple-S Control-S
Print Apple-P Control-P
New Apple-N Control-N
Open Apple-O Control-O
Close Apple-W Control-W
Quit Apple-Q Control-Q


Users of the original Macintosh were expected to use the mouse for almost everything except direct keyboard input. Much has changed since 1984. In fact, System 7.5 (and above) have a "Shortcuts" Apple Guide devoted to keyboard commands (available under the "?" icon on the right side of the menu bar. Among the most valuable shortcuts are:

  • The power key (the key that turns on your computer), if pressed when your computer is on, will bring up a dialog box from which you can shut down your Mac.

  • Shift-Apple-W closes all open windows except application windows.

  • Shift-Apple-3 takes a picture of the screen.

  • The Automated Tasks folder includes seven AppleScript commands. One of the most useful is Add Alias to Apple Menu, which creates an alias for the currently selected item and puts it under the Apple Menu.

Windows 95

In contrast to the Macintosh, Windows has always been designed with extensive keyboard commands. Windows 95 has many, and among the most valuable are:

  • Alt-F4 brings up the shutdown dialog.

  • Right-clicking on the task bar brings up a context-sensitive menu that allows you to cascade or tile all open windows.

  • Double-clicking on the time indicator in the right of the task bar brings up the Date/Time control panel. Similarly, double-clicking on the speaker next to the time brings up the appropriate volume controls.

  • Alt-Tab switches the active window.

Navigating Netscape

Clicking and holding the mouse button (on the Macintosh) or right-clicking the mouse (in Windows 95) on almost any object in Netscape 2.x and up will bring up a context-sensitive menu. For example, clicking and holding/right clicking on a hyperlink will bring up these choices: Back, Forward, Open this Link, Add Bookmark for this Link, New Window with this Link, Save this Link as..., and Copy this Link Location. One very useful context-sensitive menu item comes up when you click and hold/right click on an image: selecting "Save this Image as... allows you to save any GIF or JPEG to your hard drive.

How many times have you opened a new link and scanned the text for items of interest and not used the Find/Find Again functions? The keyboard commands Apple-F/Control-F (for Find) and Apple-G/F3 (for Find Again) can speed up the process of locating information on the web, as well as in many of your other applications.

Full Circle

Keyboard commands can be valuable; however, some tasks can often be done quicker via drag-and-drop than via keyboard commands. Dragging a file and dropping it on a desktop alias of the application that created it has become a common way to open a file. But did you know that you can drag-and-drop an HTML or image file on your desktop into an open Netscape Navigator window? Macintosh applications currently seem to support more extensive drag-and-drop features than Windows 95. For instance, you you can drag an image from a web page and drop it on the desktop or in any folder. You can also use drag-and-drop to put or get a file or folder on an ftp site using Fetch? Spend some time experimenting with drag-and-drop in your favorite applications; you may be surprised at how quickly you can do a variety of common tasks.

JOHN MULHERN III is a Consultant, ISC Client Services Group.