A Quick and Easy Guide to basic, crucial keyboard shortcuts for using Windows computers

A Quick and Easy Guide to basic, crucial keyboard shortcuts for using Windows computers

(Note: the + symbol is used to show key presses in sequence, “insertion point” indicates where a cursor would appear to a sighted person)

Windows Key-opens start menu in default mode that is a search window for finding a desired file/folder by name, i.e. JAWS. Not all letters of the file necessarily need to be keyed as Windows will guess based on existing file names on the computer. Start menu can then also be navigated with arrow keys.

Windows key+D (hold Windows key and then press D): minimizes all Windows and places focus on the desktop; navigation for finding files/folder on the desktop can then be accomplished using arrow keys, Tab or the first letter of a file name (if known)

Shift + F10 function key-may be the most powerful shortcut available for the BVI population as it emulates the right click of a mouse, providing access to the right click context menu of an object  that offers options based on the properties of the object. For example, using Shift –F10 on the Google Chrome icon will display (and speak with a screen reader) options such as Open, etc. Options can be navigated with arrow keys.

ALT key-accesses the main menu bar of most applications, which can then be navigated by arrow and TAB keys. Further shortcut options are then displayed on the menu items in small boxes for sighted guidance.

ALT+ Tab –Holding the ALT key with the thumb press the TAB key to switch between applications, tap the TAB key with the right index finger  while holding the ALT key with the right thumb.

ALT+F4-closes the application in focus

F12 function key-save as, meaning an object is to be renamed and saved in a location.

Control (Ctrl) + S save current file as is.

Arrow keys with a screenreader: Right arrow reads a letter at a time, CTRL+Right arrow reads a word at time, left arrow does the same only from left to right.

Up arrow moves up a line and reads a previous line, down arrow moves down and reads previous line.

CTRL+Home moves the insertion point to beginning of a document

CTRL+END–moves the insertion point to the end of a document

F6-Moves the insertion point to different “panes” in a current window, i.e. from menu to main part of program

TAB-moves sequentially through objects.

I have found these keyboard shortcuts to be most helpful for my K-12 students, there are many more for JAWS, Windows etc. and specific to applications but practice and memorization of these few will facilitate quick and easy access to basic Windows functions and most applications. As always, comments, criticism, suggestions are welcomed, for life is but a journey with pitfalls and rewards along the way.