Last time I mentioned the function keys along the top of the keyboard and what they do (have a look here if you missed it).
And I promised that this time I’d talk about things the function keys do if you hold down another key while you use them.
What I mean is if (for example) you press and hold down the shift key, then tap F3 while still holding shift, then let go of the shift key.
I’m not going to go through every possible combination – most of them don’t do anything… and some do things you’d never really be likely to want.
But here’s my top list of a few I think could actually be helpful:
First of all, the one I recommend everyone knowing: If you hold down the Alt key, near the bottom left of the keyboard, then tap F4, that closes the current window (don’t try it now or it’ll close this message down and you haven’t finished reading it yet!)
It’s much the same as clicking the cross in the top right hand corner. But for technical reasons it’s much harder for a hacker to “intercept”.
Here’s what I mean – imagine you’re happily browsing the web, when a dodgy looking pop up window appears with a message that sounds worrying, asking you to allow it to install something or other.
It looks dodgy to you, so you don’t fall for it “It’s a scam” you think. And instead of clicking “OK”, you click on the cross in the corner to close it down.
Except if the scammers were clever, that cross is actually a disguised “OK” button – so it goes ahead and installs the dodgy software anyway.
But if you instead press Alt and F4, that can’t be a disguised “OK” button and will close it down, without installing whatever dodgy software the scammers want to get onto your PC. So knowing this key shortcut can be the difference between letting the scammers into your PC or not.
If you don’t bother learning any other keyboard shortcuts, this is the one I’d recommend – or if you don’t want to learn it, jot it down on a piece of paper that you can keep to hand.
The other combinations I’ve got for you aren’t as important – but some of them might prove handy.
For example if you use Microsoft Word to type up letters or other documents and you realise you’ve typed something in capitals that you don’t want in capitals or the other way round, simply highlight the text with your mouse, then hold down Shift and tap F3. It swaps between all capitals, no capitals and capitals at the beginning of each word. Press it again to swap to the next way of doing the capitals.
I mentioned last time that F1 usually brings up help on the program you’re using – if you hold down the Windows key (that’s the one between ctrl and alt on the bottom left – with the picture of the flag or window symbol) and tap F1, you’ll get “Windows help and Support”, which is an overall help file for the whole of Windows.
One more that might be useful: if you’re browsing the web and you have several tabs open and you want to close the one you have open at the moment, you can simply click on the cross in the tab, at the top. But if you prefer, you can instead hold down the ctrl key and tap F4. Personally I use ctrl and W for the same thing – but you can do it whichever way you prefer (and if you don’t want to learn the keyboard tricks and instead just use the mouse for this, that’s fine too!)
Easy to make signs
The other day I wanted a picture of a road sign for something – and instead of digging out a graphics program and making it from scratch, Mike (our new Inner Circle whizz) showing me a website where you can just type in the writing and it puts it on a background to make it look like a sign – you can choose from umpteen different background, some useful, some a bit silly but fun and some a bit odd.
If you’re ever making a poster, a newsletter for a local club or even simply a greetings card, it could be handy – it works on PC or tablets.
You can have a look and try it out here. You scroll down the huge list on that page to choose the type of sign you want, then type the text you want to replace what it starts with and click on “Change Text Caption”. Then the easiest way to save the finished result is to right click on the picture and choose “save image as”.