Tuesday Tips – Viva La Keyboard!

Welcome to the second installment of the brand new Eskypades feature, Tuesday Tips.  Last week we looked at a few keyboard shortcuts for formatting.  Today, I’ll show you a couple of navigational shortcuts.

Tip #2 – Getting around

While keyboard shortcuts used for formatting are handy, in my opinion they’re not nearly as handy as ones used to get around in Excel.  This is because I need to get from A to B more often than I need to make A bold, etc.  Some Excel users know the shortcuts for formatting but still rely on the mouse to select data, move from one sheet to another or from one workbook to another.  Remember, in using keyboard shortcuts, you’re trying to reduce your dependence on the mouse.  Here are a few that will hopefully get your started on your way to independence.  Viva la keyboard!

Moving between applications
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about what is perhaps the one keyboard shortcut I use more than any other.  I usually work with several different applications going at the same time.  For instance, right now I am running Excel, Word, Firefox, Outlook, and Windows Explorer.  While the bottom row of icons is helpful to show me what I have open, navigating these still involves using the mouse.  If I’m in Excel and want to send an e-mail, I can move my hand to the mouse, go down to the Outlook button, click and up pops Outlook.  Simple enough, sure, but what if I need to reference something in my Excel file or a Word document – or BOTH.  All that mouse clicking/hand moving back and forth gets old real quick.

The solution is of course, not to use the mouse.  Viva la keyboard remember?  To switch between open programs/windows, simply hold down the ALT button and then press the TAB button.  By using this keyboard shortcut, you can switch very quickly between any open window.  If you continue to hold down the ALT button, a small window will stay in the middle of your screen with an icon for every open window.  The way the window works is to keep the most recently used window next “in line” for use.  So if you switch from Outlook to Excel, you can just as quickly go back to Excel by pressing ALT+TAB, then pressing the two keys again to return to Outlook no matter how many other windows you have open.  Holding down the ALT button and pressing TAB will repeatedly will enable you to select an open program that wasn’t the more recently used.  Just remember to keep the ALT button pressed down while you press (and release) the TAB button until the window you want to work in is highlighted.

Moving between worksheets
There is a very similar shortcut that works only in Excel and Outlook (although I’ve not found much use for it in Outlook).  It allows you to cycle between open worksheets in Excel.  Think of it as the ALT+TAB’s cousin.  Instead of either going up to the Window menu option (Excel 2003) or the View–>Switch Windows option (Excel 2007), you can switch to another open worksheet, simply by pressing CTRL + TAB.  It won’t pop up a little window guide like the ALT+TAB shortcut does, but it works exactly the same way, starting the cycle with the most recent active worksheet.

That’s it for this week.  Come back next week to learn about some handy date formulas.  And remember — viva la keyboard


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