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The F8 Shortcut in Excel

Keyboard shortcuts are a fantastic way to save time. But when you accidentally hit a keyboard shortcut you didn’t know existed, they can be infuriating.

More than once, I’ve run into someone for whom Excel seemed to be going haywire. Any time they used the arrow keys in Excel, cells would be selected. Any time they clicked on a worksheet with the mouse, all the cells between the active cell and the cell they clicked on would be selected.

To be honest, this baffled me at first, and I usually suggested a reboot to solve the problem. But it turns out, this is called Extend Mode, and the F8 key turns it on and off, allowing you to use only a single mouse click or your arrow keys to select cells.

So if you’re experiencing the same problem, just press F8 on your keyboard to turn off Extend Mode.

F8 Keyboard Shortcuts in Excel

  • F8 – select cells with only a single mouse click or only the arrow keys
  • Shift + F8 – add a non-adjacent cell to your selection
  • Alt + F8 – opens the Macro dialog box

Open Programs Faster By Creating Your Own Windows Shortcuts

Screenshot of Windows shortcut properties

Which Windows programs do you use day in and day out?  Most of us use the same three to five programs every single day.  If you are in the same situation, you can save time by creating keyboard shortcuts to open them.  I use shortcuts to quickly open Outlook and Firefox.  It saves me a couple of minutes every day, and those minutes add up to several hours of saved time over the course of a year.  Plus, pressing a few keys to make Excel open instantly makes me look awesome in front of co-workers.  And isn’t that really the point of technology?

To create your own shortcuts in Windows:

  1. Browse to the application in your Start menu, also known as the Windows button for Windows 7.  You might have to browse to the All Programs menu and find the application there, rather than finding the application in the ‘frequently used’ initial section of the Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the application name, and choose Properties.
  3. On the Shortcut tab, type a letter in the Shortcut Key field.  I find it easiest to use the letter that starts the application name.  For example, I use “E” for Excel.
  4. The new shortcut to open that application will now be Ctrl + Alt + the letter you chose in Step 3.  In my Excel example, I use Ctrl + Alt + E.

Occasionally, I find an application that does not let me add a keyboard shortcut.  In those cases, once you right-click in Step 2, choose either Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start Menu to create a shortcut on either the Taskbar across the bottom of Windows, or the Start Menu, respectively.

If you pin a shortcut to the Taskbar, you can use a built-in keyboard shortcut to open that application instantly.  The shortcut is the Windows key and a number, where the number you press is the application’s position in the Taskbar.  The Windows key is the key with the Windows logo on it, usually found on the bottom row of your keyboard.  For example, in the screenshot below, I would press the Windows key, and then 2 to open Internet Explorer.

Screenshot of the Windows 7 taskbar

A word of caution: when choosing a letter in Step 3, do not create a shortcut already using the Ctrl and Alt keys.  For example, Ctrl + Alt + Delete brings up different Windows options.  Similarly, Ctrl + Alt + Arrow keys can change the orientation of your monitors.

Now go out there and show off your super speedy Excel-opening skills!

The Force Quit for Mac

Last week we talked about how to deal with a frozen programs on your PC. But what if we are working on applications on a Mac and they freeze and crash on us? Cltr + Alt + Delete isn’t going to help, but we could use the Mac keyboard short cut: Command-Option-Escape to bring up the Force Quit Applications menu.

Force Quit can be accessed from the Apple pull down menu at the top left no matter what application you are in. The keyboard shortcut is shown on this menu as a series of almost unrecognizable symbols. I found out while travelling that our friends across the pond have those symbols printed on the keys of their computers. American Mac users will have to remember Force Quit can be accessed using Command-Option-Escape.

It has been my experience that when an application freezes you can two-finger click the application symbol on the dock and the Force Quit option will be there. It is not there normally, but when your Mac freezes up in one place its unfrozen parts are smart enough to give you some options in dock to fix your problem. However, if your entire computer locks up and you can’t access anything and nothing works, you’ll have to go for the re-start. Be sure to wait ten seconds before restarting after you hold down the power button to force shutdown. This allows your mind and your computer’s hard drive time to calm down and start fresh, hopefully without losing what you were working on at the time of the crash.


Keyboard Shortcuts to Change Views in Outlook

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts to help you change views in Outlook quickly. They work when you’re in the main Outlook screen, not when you have another window open, like a message or new appointment.

  • Press Ctrl + 1 for Mail 
  • Press Ctrl + 2 for Calendar 
  • Press Ctrl + 3 for Contacts 
  • Press Ctrl + 4 for Tasks 
  • Press Ctrl + 5 for Notes 
  • Press Ctrl + 6 for Folder List 
  • Press Ctrl + 7 for Shortcuts 

Alignment Keyboard Shortcuts in Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint

Everyone loves keyboard shortcuts, so here are a few to help you align your text. These shortcuts will work on the paragraph where you’ve placed your cursor or paragraphs that you’ve selected. If you want to select the entire document, press Ctrl + A .

Left Align Text – Ctrl + L

Works in: Word, PowerPoint, Outlook

Right Align Text – Ctrl + R

Works in: Word, PowerPoint, Outlook

Center Align Text – Ctrl + E

Works in: Word, PowerPoint, Outlook

Justify Text – Ctrl + J

Works in: Word

A few more shortcuts specifically for Word:

  • Ctrl + M – left indent an entire paragraph
  • Ctrl + Shift + M - reduces left indent of a paragraph
  • Ctrl + T – create a hanging indent
  • Ctrl + Shift + T - reduces hanging indent
  • Ctrl + Q - removes paragraph formatting