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by Phil Ball

Q. In your talks at the Prescott Computer Society, you often describe various keyboard commands to be used instead of using the mouse. Why would I do this when I have a perfectly good mouse?

A. Here's the way I look at it. When working on some sort of document or form that involves typing, an accomplished typist or keyboarder uses two hands on the keyboard and needs a third hand for the mouse. Since no one that I know has three hands, it just makes sense to keep your hands on the keyboard and leave the mouse alone. Every time that you reach for the mouse, you have to locate the mouse, move the cursor to where you need to click, click, and then return your hand to the keyboard. You’ll probably have to sneak a peek at the keyboard to see that your hands are placed correctly and then you can resume typing. I usually have to follow this up with, "Now where was I?" This can be a huge concentration breaker and I may forget that great thought I had just before I found the need to mouse.

An important extra feature of keyboard shortcuts is that they save me a lot of time. I can accomplish tasks faster using keyboard commands than mouse-clicking an icon on the toolbar. There are hundreds of keyboard commands but don't try to learn them all at once. Instead, learn the shortcuts for common tasks. Examples, CTRL+S for save, CTRL+C for copy, CTRL+X for cut, and CTRL+V for paste. CTRL+S allows me to be working on something and quickly save it when the phone rings. Then if I accidentally close it while looking at something having to do with the phone call, it is safe and I can simply reopen the document and pick up where I left off.

Stop relying on your mouse: Put it down and don't let yourself even think about it; instead, keep your hands on the keyboard, and give yourself a chance to operate your computer at something closer to the speed of thought.

Published: Courier 7/1/12 - Page 4C