Hardware

Use a keyboard shortcut to select a grouped option

You don't have to abandon the keyboard and pick up the mouse to select a radio button or a check box -- use this simple keyboard trick instead.
Nothing annoys me more than being forced to remove my nimble fingers from the keyboard to click a control using the mouse. You've probably experienced it too  -- you're quickly tabbing from one control to the next until you reach a group of radio buttons or check boxes and SLAM! You have to stop, grab the mouse, and click an option to continue. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my mouse. But in an otherwise-efficient data entry environment, I find using a mouse to choose an option or click a check box terribly distracting. Fortunately, it's also unnecessary because you can use the keyboard to select an option control from a set of possible choices:

  1. Tab into the option group just as you would any other control.
  2. Once the option group has focus, don't reach for your mouse. Instead, use the right or left arrow keys to cycle though the options. The arrow keys also select the options -- no clicking required.
  3. Then, tab on to the next control.

Thanks to Steve Schapel for sharing this neat keyboard trick, which isn't limited to Office applications. It also works with most Web-based forms.

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.

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