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Keyboard Shortcuts

 

the keyboard (US)

Remember:

The shift, control, option and command keys (purple) do nothing by themselves. They are called modifier keys because they modify the behaviour of the other keys.

In contrast, tab, esc, return, enter and ~  (blue) are keys that do produce a character.

The command key is used to give commands: command-P orders the application to print, command-Q orders it to quit.  Operate it with your thumb.

The option key invokes some option of whatever you are doing: dragging something moves it, option-dragging moves it and makes a copy.

The shift key is a constraint: typing a key produces a character, shift-typing it produces only the upper-case version; similarly shift-dragging something in a drawing program restricts the dragging to horizontal, vertical or 45 degrees.

Distinguish the enter and the return keys:  the return key is for taking new paragraphs in typing text. The enter key is at the far right of the keyboard (or somewhere to the right of the space bar on laptops), it is used to signal the end of entering data.
Always use return to start new paragraphs, always use enter at the end of filling in dialog boxes, at the end of filling in cells in spreadsheets etc.  Most of the time return will also work where enter is in fact the correct choice, but there are some cases where only enter will do the job, viz. when a dialog box has a multi-line field which accepts returns.

Windows machines do not have a command key.  They call the option key "alt" (but it does not have the same functions).

desired operation examples key sequence
press the "OK" button final approval in a dialog box enter
accent aigu é ó ú option-e then letter
accent grave à è ù option-` then letter
accent circonflexe î ê ô option-i then letter
umlaut ü ë ö option-u then letter
tilde ñ ã õ option-n then letter
line break take a new line but not a new paragraph shift-return
non-breaking space insert a space without allowing a split over two lines, e.g. to keep
an initial and a name together as in "J. Chirac"
option-space
increase screen brightness (on keyboards that do not have dedicated keys for brightness) F15
decrease screen brightness (on keyboards that do not have dedicated keys for brightness) F14
increase sound volume (on keyboards that do not have dedicated keys for volume) F12
decrease sound volume (on keyboards that do not have dedicated keys for volume) F11
mute sound toggle (on keyboards that do not have dedicated keys for volume) F10
switch off computer (laptops and keyboards that have an on-off switch) press the on-off key, then press return
put computer to sleep (laptops and keyboards that have an on-off switch) press the on-off key, then press "s" (for "sleep")
go to next application you want to switch to another active application. This is useful for going between applications when you have to do multiple copy-paste operations. command-tab
go to next window you want to go to the next open window of the active application. This is useful for accessing any of the windows you have open in an application.  It has of course no effect if the application has only one window open. command - ~
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next planned revision: 2009-01