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The oldest and most basic computer input devices is the qwerty keyboard. In the decades of its existence programmers have incorporated all lot of keyboards functionality into all the different program, or at least most of them. But this functionality is often shared across so many different programs that programmers can forget the need to tell you about it.
The first un-secret to reveal is the special keys at the bottom of the keyboard. The oldest special key is the Shift key, dating back to the typewriter. When you hold down shift, it will capitalize any letter typed, or swap any number with the alternate character shown above it on the key - like 2 becomes @ when the shift key is pressed.
The extra keys Ctrl, Alt, and also have the ability to function like this. Indeed, whenever any instruction/tutorial/ FAQ uses a term like Ctrl+C, it means hold down the Ctrl button then press the C key to activate it's alternative function, Copy.
The three keys X C and V are the almost universal clipboard shortcuts. The clipboard is basically like a space where any one thing can be stored at any time. Pressing Ctrl and X will remove whatever you've selected and while copying it to the clipboard, while Ctrl and C will copy it to the clipboard without removing the original.
Then control plus V will put a copy of whatever's in the clipboard wherever your computer is focused. Together these functions are known as Cut (Ctrl+X), Copy (Ctrl+C), and Paste (Ctrl+V).
Less well known is the shortcut one key to the right, Undo (Ctrl+Z). Almost every program supports this function to some degree. It reverses the last action you've takes, restoring deleted content, erasing inserted content, moving moved content back where it had been, etc. A lot of programs record multiple undo steps so that you can press undo several times to backtrack multiple steps, but a few programs only record one undo step, thus limiting undo to one step.
Some programs also allow Ctrl+Y undo the undo command.
Other common control shortcuts include Ctrl+P - the Print command, Ctrl+S the Save Command, and Ctrl+F the Find command. Ctrl+F works in most web browsers and is a good way to quickly search for a specific name or term on a long webpage.
They Alt key has far fewer standard commands associated with it. The most common usage is that by holding down both Alt and Ctrl and pressing the Delete key, the computer will open an options dialog including the task manager. This is a very useful if the program you open it is not working right because the task manager can close programs that aren't shutting down properly.
Also the Alt key is frequently used for special keyboard shortcuts in programs with a lot of functions. And besides the usual shortcut Alt+ approach, if you just tap the Alt key, it will prep the menu for keyboard manipulation. So for instance, instead of using the mouse to click File then Print to print a page, (Or just hitting Ctrl+P), you can hit the alt key, then File to open the file drop down and P because that's the underlined letter for Print in said drop down menu.
Finally there's the Windows key, or the Start key. On keyboards for windows based computers it usually has either the word Start or a slightly curvy diagonal square divided in 4 parts. It's primary purpose is to open the start menu, which shows programs, settings and folders for you to open. In Windows Vista and 7, it also opens with a cursor in the main system search menu, so if you want to search for something on your computer you can just hit Start and then type it in.
Since the search includes all the programs installed on your system, this also acts as a way to quickly open any program installed on your computer, just type in the name, and hit enter when it comes up.
Recent Windows versions have also added more uses for the windows key. In 7 for instance, you can rearrange windows by holding down the windows key then tapping the arrow keys.
With over 30 years of development, the keyboard has a lot more it can do. Search keyboard shortcuts on google to learn more, identifying specific programs because many have unique keyboard tricks.
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