Atechability Number 3: Let’s Play The Keyboard

Did you know the keyboard has more functions than the typical typing? Here, we will discuss some of many global shortcuts you can use, even without a screen reader to make life easier!


“Wait a moment. I don’t even know about music, and this guy wants us to play a keyboard? I’m outa here!” Silly readers! We are not talking about musical keyboards here. Did you know you can perform a wide range of keyboard shortcuts on a computer without needing to use a mouse all the time? Yes, that is correct! You can perform quite a few commands on a keyboard using everyday tasks such as word processing, emailing, etcetera. On this post, we are covering some of the MANY keyboard shortcuts that can be done. Many of these can be used on both Windows and Mac. Read on, and we will show you how!

Notes About Shortcut Notation in This Post

When this post gives a keyboard shortcut, it will have a “Plus sign, (+)” to indicate pressing more than one key at the same time. For example, when we say, “Press “Alt+F,”” this does not mean to press all those three keys at the same time. In this case, the four keys, because to make a plus, you do a “Shift” and “Equals, (=)” key at the same time. Ouch! My hand just hurts thinking of the Twister game I’d have to play to get all those keys pressed! The correct way to do that is just to press “Alt,” and “F” at the same time. Nothing more, nothing less. Also, if you see a key with the letter “F,” and a number after it, such as “F1,” you can find these keys on the very top row of your keyboard. These are called “Function Keys.” They have different purposes in different apps. “F1,” is used to bring up a help system in many apps. Sometimes, those do not work on laptops. No worries! You can press the “Function” key, which is located to the left of the “Windows” key on the bottom left side in conjunction with the function key on the top row in question, and it works great! With the notes out of the way, let’s teach some basics!

Editing commands

When using word processors such as “Microsoft Word,” or Apple’s “Pages,” you have a wide selection of keyboard shortcuts you can use to cut, copy, paste, etcetera. Remember, You DO NOT, need the mouse to use these. NOTE: these work on both Windows and Mac. These also work on other applications that allow you to work with text such as Powerpoint, Excel, and even Outlook. (Numbers, Keynote, and Mail, are the Mac equivalents.) Microsoft does make Office apps for the Mac as well. Following are some common commands to get started.

Text Manipulation Commands

  • “Control+x”: Cut text to the clipboard after highlighting it. This essentially removes the selection from the document, so you can paste it somewhere else or just not use it.
  • “Control+C”: Copies highlighted text to the clipboard.
  • “Control+V”: Pastes text from the clipboard at the location of your cursor.
  • “Control+a”: Select ALL the text. This highlights EVERYTHING that has been typed. From top, to bottom.
  • “Control+Z”: Undo Last Action. This will be EVERYONE’s favorite command, especially if you make many mistakes with deleting something accidentally. Just remember, this does not work on pencil and paper. To an acquaintance, if you read this, that’s still helarious about you trying to press this command on paper!

Decorating Text

No, this does not mean that text can be decorated with glitter or anything like that. These commands allow you to do things such as bolding, italic, etcetera. These commands are toggles. Meaning, when you press the command, text you write will be either italicized, underlined, or written in bold until you press the command again to turn the text attribute off. However, there is an exception to this rule. If you already have text on screen that you want to underline, bold, etcetera, you press the command once after highlighting it. Then, you can move on with life. Here are the commands for the main formatting of text.

  • “Control+B”: Bold.
  • “Control+I”: Italic.
  • “Control+U”: Underline.
  • “Control+E”: Center text. (This is NOT a toggle.)
  • “Control+D”: Open the font settings box to change more text attributes.

Basic File Manipulation Commands

You can also open and make new documents using the keyboard. Here are some basics:

  • “Control+N”: create a new document.
  • “Control+O”: open a document.
  • “Control+P”: print a document.
  • “Control+s”: save a document.
  • “Control+F”: Find text in a document.

Emailing Commands

Many email clients have different commands to operate them. However, here are some commands that Outlook and Mail for Mac use.

  • “Control+N”: new message.
  • “Control+S”: Send message.
  • “Control+R”: Reply to a message.
  • “Control+F”: Forward a message.

All the commands listed on the “Word Processing” section work in email messages as well.

Some Windows Shortcut Keys

When using the Windows Operating System, you can get to parts of it with just one key press. Try these next time you use a computer.

  • “Windows” key or “Control+Escape”: Open the Start menu.
  • “Applications” key, or “Shift+f10”: Double right click on something to open the context menu. For example, if this is done on a file, you could rename it, delete it, or view its properties.
  • “Alt+F4”: Exit an application, or if done from the desktop, asks you if you wish to shut down, or restart Windows.
  • “Windows+A”: Open the action center. (Notifications)
  • “Windows+C”: Ask Cortana, Windows’ personal assistant a question or request to do a certain action, depending on your need.
  • “Windows+x”: Open a list of common actions on Windows, such as going to settings, or opening the task manager.


There are many more shortcuts that you can use, but these were just the basics to get you started! One thing that should also be mentioned, is if you have a bluetooth keyboard connected to a smartphone or tablet, most of these commands work here as well! Let us know if you would like more shortcut commands, and we will bring another post with nothing but more new ones. Happy keyboarding!