Computer Basics

The Alt Key

 
 

 
The  key

The keyboard can be considered an alternate way of working a computer. Although it is the original method of operating a computer, it is, in the 21st century, considered an alternative. It is a more efficient method than using a mouse. 

The ALT key also provides us a way of inserting special characters, such as , , or .  For more about this subject, visit our ASCII character page

 

 

To get to the menu bar
  • Hold the  key and tap the underlined letter of the menu option you want to access. 
    ie ALT F would open the File drop down list.


  • Once the menu item's drop down list is open, tap ONLY the underlined letter of the task you want to accomplish.  
    ie Taping O would cause the Open dialog box to appear.


  • Once the letter is hit the action will take place, or, a dialog box will open on screen. 
Normal



The File menu open

Should you change your mind you can either, hit the escape key twice (once to close the list and a second time to get back to the body of your work) or point to another part of the screen and single click.

It should also be noted, if you hit the ALT key by itself, your position will be on the menu bar, usually sitting on top of File, without the list being exposed.
 


Normal state.
This is the menu's normal state.
 
 


Active state.
The user has either,
pointed to File and clicked, or has hit ALT F.  
The file menu is exposed under File.


Highlighted state.
The ALT key has been tapped without a corresponding letter.
 


The  key inside dialog boxes.
As before, Hold <Alt> and tap the underlined letter of the field you want to access. This method is useful as you do not need to select the field's contents prior to making changes. Just type and the contents will be replaced.

Another alternative would be to tap the Tab key. Every hit of the tab key will move your position forward 1 field. Should you overshot your target field, hold Shift and tap Tab. This action will cause your position to move backwards.

  back

Click here for descriptions of all the keys

 

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