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105 - Special Keyboard Keys Worth Knowing About

This is a tip about truly handy special key combinations. I am a strong advocate of keeping it as simple as possible. I am NOT searching for more things for you to learn! Windows has many many key combinations available to do specific things. I do not recommend trying to learn them. Having said that, there are three key combinations I have found to be worth remembering. They are detailed under "How to do it".

How to do it:
Two of these key combinations use the "Windows" key which is the oversized key sitting between Ctrl and Alt, on the lower left of a standard keyboard. It has the Windows logo on it. On laptops, the keyboard layouts are all different and you will have to find the Windows key for your particular model.

Each of these key combinations requires that you hold down the first key and then press the second one. Try not to hit the second key twice as it will execute twice if you do!

#1 Windows + E
This is used to call the program "Windows Explorer". This program is used to view the folders on your computer and it allows you to move/rename/copy/delete files and folders. It is on CSG's list of essential programs to being computer literate and you should be using it virtually every time you use your computer.

#2 Windows + F
This is a variation of the one above. It opens the "Find" program, also known in the newer versions of Windows as the "Search" program. If you have forgotten where you filed a document you are looking for, or a download you just did from the Internet, this is the program you need to use.

#3 Ctrl + (big + key) (the one on the 10-key pad at the far right of the keyboard)
NOTE - This tip does not work on laptops as they do not have the required "big +" key. Sorry.

What this key combo does is to alter all of the column widths, when you are viewing file details, to be just wide enough to display the widest entry that exists for the column, and no more. It shrinks too-wide columns and expands too-narrow columns, all in one keystroke. Very nice. Last but not least, this keyboard trick also works with other programs such as Windows Media Player. When in doubt, just try it to see if it works.

While viewing the file details, start by clicking on anything in the files list on the right side of the screen. Now, hold down the Ctrl key and hit the (big +).

Detailed explanation:
When you use Windows Explorer regularly, and choose to view the file information in detail, you will frequently find the content of detail lines truncated. The information is too long to fit in a column at its current width. When Windows can't display something because it's too long, it just truncates it and add three dots at the end. (Example: a file name of "Driver for Sony DVD Player for XP_SXPUUS.EXE" might be displayed as, "Driver for Sony DV...") The same goes for other detail fields such as file size, dates, etc. Most people point their cursors at the column title line and drag the column width to be larger. That works, sort of. You may be able to see the file names on this page okay, but when you scroll down to the next page, there are file names too long for even your newly widened column. Another form of the problem is when a column is too wide, causing most of the columns to be off the screen entirely. Using this key combination will not only expand a narrow column, but will shrink a too-wide one at the same time.

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