Hardware

Tip: Like-magic Ctrl+z


Some of the simplest tips are also the best. Years ago, I learned a simple keyboard shortcut that can undo the last action—Ctrl+z. It’s similar to the Undo Typing feature, but allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard. Initially, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but I use it all the time and find it invaluable.

Most frequently, I use it to undo Word’s default curly quote when writing snippets of code. If I retain the curly quote and a reader copies the code into a VBA module, that curly quote usually throws an error and the reader hasn't a clue why. After typing the single or double quote (‘ or "), I press Ctrl+z to remove the special formatting, which leaves a straight quote character (' or "). The key is to remember that this shortcut erases the last "action," which isn’t always the last character entered. In my case, the shortcut deletes the formatting and not the actual quote character.

I run into new uses for this all the time; I hope you’ll find it as useful as I have. By the way, the keyboard shortcut for repeating an action is Ctrl+y.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

11 comments
DanLM
DanLM

suspend the job you might launched into the foreground. This is very helpful actually if you typed a command and were worried about the syntax and the command not running. You find the syntax is correct and you know the command will now run awhile. Cntrl z suspends the last command, 'bg' will now launch the job into the background. So you can either log off, or use the screen for other tasks.. By the way, one of my favorite windows key short cuts is. Windows & E. This will open windows explorer for you. Dan

Pringles86
Pringles86

I also like Windows & Pause, it opens System Properties.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I wasn't aware of that one -- thanks for sharing it!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I was thrilled, years ago, when I first found Windows+E. Here's a question for you guys -- my laptop doesn't have a Windows key. Is there another combination that does the same thing (open Explorer)?

bradgalliford
bradgalliford

Well, you should be able to make a shortcut on your desktop for explorer and then right click and go to properties (on the icon) and set a shortcut key.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Yes, that would work. Usually, I'm working in something when I want to launch Explorer, so having to switch to the Desktop isn't much different from clicking the Start menu I guess. Thanks for the idea.

degreed EE
degreed EE

I often use this when Word capitalizes the initial letter of a line (in a table for instance). You have to watch for when it happens, and do this right away. I hadn't heard about Ctrl-Y for redo. Sometimes shift Ctrl-Z serves for that function, depending on the app.

bradgalliford
bradgalliford

I think most people should know ctrl+z.. The one I find a lot of people do not know about is ctrl+shift+esc This is SO much better then ctrl+alt+del. I work in a domain environment 90% of the time. I don't want to have to deal with one more step of clicking on task manager in the windows security dialog box just to get to the task manager. Also, in some remote administrative scenarios ctrl+alt+del just does not work... and if you ask someone to hit that while you are vnced into them... well, you get booted off.. and thats just no fun.. So in short... ctrl+z < ctrl+shift+esc

Fred123456
Fred123456

Not sure what you meant by Ctrl-Alt-Del in VNC, since its a mouse command off of the menu to send Alt-Ctrl-Del to the client PC. But if you are using Remote Desktop or your Term Serv'd in to a Server, Ctrl-Alt-End sends Ctrl-Alt-Del to the device your connected to.

bradgalliford
bradgalliford

When you are using RDP in fullscreen you are correct. But I find myself having multiple sessions open at the same time.. this gets a little crazy if they are all full screen. Thats why I always ise ctrl shift esc... plus you only need one hand. and with VNC, yes, some client programs have the button on the top that says "send ctrl alt del" but why use a mouse? much MUCH quicker to use the keyboard.

ktjobsearch
ktjobsearch

This is helpful as you mentioned in remote sessions or if your just trying to kill an app fast.

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