Navigating without a mouse is a forgotten skill among many users and even some support techs. But when Dr. Engelbart's venerable rodent is ill or absent, the keyboard can be your only option.
To test our members' knowledge of Windows keyboard shortcuts, we developed a quick, five-question quiz. The questions covered such shortcuts as [Windows]D, [Alt][F4], and [Alt][Tab]. More than 1,300 TechRepublic members took our shortcuts pop quiz. Here's a rundown of how they responded.
The handy [Windows] key
The [Windows] key is one of the most useful keys for both support pros and end users. Pressing the [Windows] key alone will invoke the Start menu—the same as clicking the Start button. Keyboards that do not have a [Windows] key can invoke the Start menu by using [Ctrl][Esc]. However, this alternate key combination cannot be used with other keys. For example, [Ctrl][Esc]R will not open the Run dialog box.
Three of our pop quiz questions involved the [Windows] key. Check out Itai's article to learn more [Windows] key shortcuts.
More keyboard shortcuts
Most of the information for our Windows keyboard shortcuts pop quiz came from Itai Rolnick's TechRepublic article "Teach end users to navigate Windows without a mouse." Whether you're an end user or support pro, knowing how to navigate Windows without a mouse can save you a lot of time and trouble—not to mention frustration.
Itai's article takes you through a Windows session—from startup to shutdown—in which he modifies the registry without ever reaching for the mouse. Although the registry tips aren't something you should share with your users, the general navigation skills are something every Windows user should know. Think about including them in your next help desk newsletter or new user e-mail.
Take me to the desktop
The correct answer is [Windows]D, and 89 percent of our quiz takers got it right, as shown in Figure A.
Run with the best of them
For this question the correct answer is [Windows]R, and 94 percent those who took the quiz knew this, as shown in Figure B.
The correct answer is [Windows]F, and 71 percent got this one correct, as shown in Figure C.
Toggle between running applications
The correct answer is [Alt][Tab], and 91 percent of our quiz takers knew this answer, as shown in Figure D. [Alt][Tab] comes in handy if you keep several applications open simultaneously, as I often do. And those of you who use game trainers (you know who you are) should recognize this shortcut immediately.
Built-in pop-up killer
The correct answer is [Alt][F4], and again a high percentage of our quiz takers, 76 percent, knew the answer, as shown in Figure E. [Alt][F4] is a shortcut Itai recommends teaching every end user; he said: "This key combination will close the current active application. Pressing [Alt][F4] with no applications running is the same as clicking Start | Shut Down. Not only is [Alt][F4] a quick way to close an application, it can also be used as a manual pop-up killer. The next time one of your users faces a bad-mannered pop-up with no X to close it; they can send the offending window packing with [Alt][F4]."
A very solid B+
The results from this quiz were just as I expected: Our members are well versed in Windows keyboard shortcuts. Each question was answered correctly by at least 71 percent of those who took the quiz.
For those who took that quiz and missed more than three questions, I hope the information provided here will encourage you to learn more about navigating Windows without a mouse. For those who got all the questions correct, "Great job!" As I've mentioned in previous pop quiz results articles, you get the TechPoints for just taking the quiz, not for getting all the answers correct. Good luck on our next pop quiz.
You be the teacher
If you have a topic you'd like us to cover in an upcoming pop quiz, we want to hear about it. Post a comment to this article or drop us a line and share your suggestions for both quiz topics and questions.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.