Most Windows programs contain a menu toolbar across the top. Several of the menu items are basically the same in most of the programs you will use.  You can use the menus in two different ways.  The keyboard shortcuts discussed here also work with newer Windows programs using a ribbon bar rather than the regular menus.

The first way is to use the mouse and just click on the item, or, you can use the keyboard to access menu items.  Since you are using Windows Explorer, Netscape,, or a similar browser to look at this page, let's look at the menu at the top. 

In almost every Windows program, the first menu item is File.  Note that as you look at the Word File, there is either an underscore character underneath the F, or the menu item is capitalized.  As you look across the other menu items you'll notice every item has an underscore under one letter of the menu name, or with newer programs they will show the shortcut key combination.  Also note that no two have the same letter with an underscore under it. 

Now, if you have an underscore on the menu item for Edit, you tap the Alt key once, then tap the E key once, you'll see the Edit menu will drop down.  If there is no underscore, tap the Alt key once, then tap the E key once, you'll see the Edit menu will drop down.  Now you can use the arrow keys to move up or down the menu. 

Also notice that the drop down list has several items in it.  Even though some of them may be grayed out (that means the text associated with that item is a gray color, which indicates it is not available at this time) most items have a Ctrl+(key) designation next to it.  Right now, on the Edit menu, the Copy function is grayed out since there is nothing highlighted on the page you are viewing. If you were to highlight something on the web page, Copy would be available.  Now instead of either clicking on the Edit menu with the mouse and then clicking on the Copy item, or using the keyboard to do the same thing, you can simply highlight the text, then hold the Ctrl key down with your left index finger and then tap the C key with your right index finger.

Even though it seems like nothing happened, if you start up your word processor and then do an Edit, Paste. or do a Ctrl-V, the highlighted text will be pasted into the word processing document. (Any time you copy something, it is copied to what is referred to as the Windows clipboard.  Once something is copied to the clipboard, it stays there either until something new is copied, or the computer is turned off.  It can only hold one copy, but that item can be one word, a picture, a whole book, anything which you can select by highlighting it, and then doing the copy command).  The items which have shortcut keys associated with them are common to all Windows programs.  So in any Windows program, Ctrl-C is the copy command.  You ask why Ctrl-V is Paste instead of Ctrl-P, well that's because the P key is for Print.  Anyway, the whole purpose of this rendition is to explain that sometimes it is easier to use a shortcut key than to spend time navigating the menus, particularly if you don't want to have to use the mouse for everything.  Some people don't like to take their fingers off the keyboard unless it is necessary.  Again, you need to select whatever it is you are working with so Windows knows what you want to work with.  It will then attempt to adjust the menus to fit the options for where you are at in the document, spreadsheet, picture, or whatever you are working on.


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Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.