Keyboard Shortcuts & Commands
November 8th, 2000

I can tell from reader letters that a number of you prefer to use the keyboard, rather than the mouse, to accomplish routine tasks. Partly this has to do with how good your typing skills are and partly with problems related to wrist damage from excessive use of the mouse. Whatever the reason, it is sufficient unto itself. Almost always when giving directions I give mouse related directions. I pledge to be more conscientious about also including keyboard directions. In keeping with that promise I have looked for handy hints utilizing the keyboard. Some of them follow, along with other tips that I have found and tested on my own machine.

Giving Your Computer Directions Using the Keyboard

  • In AppleWorks 5 and some versions of Microsoft Word, to increase the font size of selected text by 1 point increments, hit Command + Shift + >. To decrease the font size of selected text by 1 point increments, hit Command + Shift + <.
  • To quickly hide the Button Bar in AppleWorks 5, hit Command + Shift + X. After hiding, to show the Button Bar, hit Command + Shift + X again.
  • While in an AppleWorks word processing document, hit Command + Shift + T to quickly display the Tools in the document window.
  • Also in AppleWorks, to access the thesaurus, hit Command + Shift + Z.
  • To close an open dialog window in AppleWorks, hit the escape key.
  • When you want to rename a file you must move the cursor to the beginning of the highlighted name. To do so quickly, hit the return key, left arrow key or up arrow key.
  • In lists of files, either in windows or on your desktop, you can find files by typing in the first few letters of the file. So, in a list of twenty items, two of which are Press Release and Product Release, quickly type "p-r-o" and you'll be taken to the second item. Or, type "p" and hit Tab to cycle through all the items beginning with "p," then the next available letter, or Shift-Tab to go backward.
  • Eject floppies or CD-ROMs by highlighting their icons and hitting Command-Y. Command-E will eject the disk but leave the icon on the desktop in earlier versions of the Mac OS, and you'll eventually be asked to put the disk back in if you use that method. In Mac OS 9, Command-Y and Command-E work in pretty much the same way.
  • To insert a date within an AppleWorks word processing document that will not update, hold down the Option key and Select the new menu item Edit Insert Fixed Date.
  • To see invisible characters in AppleWorks, such as tabs and spaces, hit Command + Semi-colon.
  • To select an entire paragraph of text in an AppleWorks document, quadruple click on the paragraph. This works in many, but not all Mac applications.

Tips for Making The Internet More Accessible

  • Apparently Internet Explorer 5 comes set up with large fonts. I can't test this out but those with IE 5 may want to try it. To approximate the default sizes that were in IE 4.5, first select Edit Preferences. Then select Web Browser Language/Fonts. Change the Size pulldown to 12 and the Resolution pulldown to 72 dpi.
  • To access the Message Center in Netscape Communicator 4.7, hit Command + Option + 1.
  • This is a handy trick. For a quick search in Netscape Communicator, type in your search key words in the Location box and hit return. The location box is the area where you put your internet addresses, such as
  • I bet all of us who use the internet with any frequency have found a page that we intended to save but did not. There may be a way to retrieve the URL. In Netscape Navigator, type in about:global in the location/address box and you just might find your site!
  • Those with Call Waiting on their phone may have problems with getting kicked off the internet in the middle of a big download. If you add *70, before your ISP access number it will disable call waiting. For example: *70,111-1111. Just remember to go back and turn it back on. If you don't know how to get to your ISP access number call your internet service provider and ask them to walk you through it.
  • To save an image from the internet do this: In Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, drag the image to your desktop; In both programs you can also click and hold your mouse button, then choose Download Image to Disk or Save Image to Disk.

Operating Tips

  • Need to restart but can't see your screen? Try pressing the power key on the keyboard + R.
  • If you choose Shut Down from the Special menu and quickly realize that you want to stop shutting down, immediately launch any application. Launching a program will force the Mac OS to stop a shutdown.
  • If your computer is turned off without going through the shutdown process (i.e., your electricity goes out), you will get a notice when you next turn on your machine that tells you the machine was not properly turned off. To disable the improper shutdown dialog, uncheck the Shut Down Warning option in the General Controls Control Panel.
  • To "relocate" text: Highlight the needed text. Click and hold on the selection and drag it to another part of the document.
  • To highlight blocks of text in a word processing document for instance, click at the beginning of the text you want and then Shift click at the end. All of the intervening text will be highlighted.
  • To get answers concerning your operating system, visit
  • When using Find File (Command-F), you can drag files from the Found Items window to your desktop, to other folders, and to the Trash. You can open their enclosing folders in the lower half of the window, though you can't move those folders from there. You can launch items from the Found Items window also by double clicking on the title.
  • This is a good tip for those of us who tend to have numerous projects going at the same time. It will help keep your desktop from looking so cluttered. You can make a folder of aliases for frequently used applications and documents and access it through the Apple menu. Just drag an alias of the folder itself into the Apple Menu Items folder in the System Folder.
  • You can find the application to which an alias belongs by single-clicking on the alias, then hitting Command-R.
  • If you worry about your kids accidentally disabling the family Mac, you can protect both the System Folder and the Applications folder by checking those options in the General Controls control panel. That'll prevent files in those folders from being moved.
  • File Sharing is a memory hog. If you aren't on a network, you don't need to run File Sharing, so you can disable the extension and control panel and save memory.
  • If an image won't display as a desktop picture, it's either too large or in the wrong format. Use either PICT- or JPEG-formatted photos, and try to keep them under 200K apiece. Larger photos may work, but they may not.
  • To select several items in a window, start your mouse in the blank space beside one item (but not on the item), hold down the mouse button and drag a box to the opposite side of the last item you want to select. Highlight non-contiguous items by holding down Shift. Once they are highlighted, using either method, you can move them as a group by dragging them to a new site.
  • If you encounter a slow Web page, you could wait -- or you could load another page in the meantime. Choose New Window from the File menu in your browser (or hit Command-N) and go elsewhere. Or, use the Go menu to return to a previous page while the slow page keeps chugging.
  • To avoid spam e-mail (unwanted messages), set your e-mail application to automatically trash any message that isn't specifically addressed to you. Many spammers use addresses such as [email protected] -- that address is actually an address group containing thousands of individual e-mail addresses. Be sure to exclude any valid mailing lists to which you subscribe.

Reader Feedback

Patrick Ferguson wrote with advise related to Explorer freezes. Patrick notes:

Go to the Edit drop down and select Advanced. There you will find a button which allows you to clear your "Cache". Also notice the box indicating the allowable size of your cache. Most likely it is defaulted to 10 MB. Kick the cache size up to about 100 MB for starters - or, alternatively 0 MB. Explorer has a wicked knack of letting its cache overload on Macs. Thus, the freezes. If you are surfing for long periods of time your cache fills up with all sorts of snippets from each web site you visit.

Chris Gleeson wrote following last week's column where I discussed changing the time on your computer to conform to daylight savings time. Chris noted an error in my information and I appreciate him sharing it. Chris wrote:

The process you described for having the OS automatically change the clock back and forth between daylight and standard time was fine as far as it went, but you maybe should have mentioned which version of the OS this works on. I have 7.6.1 on my Q610, and there is no automatic process for that system that I could find.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.