Here is 10 helpful hints to make it quicker working with your Office applications. Many apply to windows applications in general however not always.


Many of the shortcuts in windows are activated via the control key and some of the most useful are right under your finger tips: the ZXCV. These are the four left most buttons on the bottom row if the keyboard. You can reach any of them while pressing the Ctrl key without any effort

CtrlPlus signZ

This combination is Undo

CtrlPlus signX

This combination is Cut


This combination is Copy

CtrlPlus signV

This combination is Paste

So together you have Undo, Cut, Copy and Paste. While it may seem fairly trivial but over time it will save you a lot of time doing this rather than actually going through the menus

2) CTRL + Directional keys

Pressing the Ctrl button while pressing the arrow keys can let you navigate through your spreadsheet or document quickly.

In Excel:

The combination will move you focus onto the last cell in the list. For example if you have multiple tables below each other (say one per product). You can quickly jump to the bottom of each table using Ctrlplus the up or down keys

Here is an example to illustrate:


Pressing Ctrl + → would move you immediately from A2 to F2 (stops at F2 because G2 is empty). And Ctrl + ↓ would take you from A2 to A8 (stops at A8 because A9 is empty).

In Word/PowerPoint

The combination of
CtrlPlus signright_arrowORleft_arrow
Will move the cursor one whole word in the corresponding direction (this is also a great tool when writing programming code to quickly go through without having to use the mouse)

3) Shift to select area

Another useful button is Shift. It is sort of like the universal add next to selection button. You can use it in combination with the direction keys to select like you would move your cursor (either next cell or next letter or row). Or alternatively it can be use to re-size a selection

4) Ctrl to select distinct areas

If Shift is the universal add next to selection. Then Ctrlis the universal add another to selection. You can use it to select additional distinct cells or words after selecting another one. I find it really useful when trying to add shading to several cells (or rows) to highlight them and can select them all first and hit the shading button once.

The main power though for Excel comes from combining:

ShiftPlus signCtrl.

Adding the power of add next to selection and skip to end of data. For excel it allows you to highlight an entire table (no matter how large) in just a few clicks. Just select:

ShiftPlus signCtrl.Plus signright_arrow


ShiftPlus signCtrl.Plus signdown_arrow

And now you have selected an entire table. Using the example from tip 2. If we start at A2 we would have selected A2 through to F8 (A2:F8)

In Word or Power point this will let you select an entire word immediately, Just hit Shift+Ctrl+left or right arrow. Remember this is great when you need to select just a few words. The mouse is much more efficient for large selections

5) Select All

Speaking of large selection. Not much gets larger than selecting everything. This is where our friendCtrl comes in again.

CtrlPlus signButton A

This selects everything. If Excel it would select the entire sheet. In word the entire document. While these may seem trivial it is handy sometimes to copy an entire sheet over (if you want just the values maybe). I also find it useful when copying an SQL query from an editor into a connection in Excel to select all in the old SQL string to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Or in Word if you have snippets in separate documents you want to bring together.

In PowePoint though you can select entire contents of a specific object. For example you wish to update a title or a summary bar or copy one over. You can just hit select all and be done, without lifting you hands off the key board (remember to use Ctrl+C/V/X to paste it into the new area)

Warning: Be careful what you select, select all really selects ALL. However if you do make a mistake recall Ctrl+Z will revert the changes before anyone even notices

6) Alt Tabbing

Say you are working on a presentation and you constantly have to switch to other documents to copy paste or to check some numbers. In Windows the obvious way to switch windows is to go to the bottom bar and select which window you want. But for switching quickly between the same windows there is also

AltPlus signTab

Pressing it quickly will switch to the last window you were looking at before this one. Pressing it and holding on to the tab brings up a menu of all open windows ordered by recency of viewing. Note this will only bring up open windows (i.e. those you actually closed will not be here). And it will only show windows not tabs (some applications like IE 9 on-wards, i think do show you each tab separately).

Here is roughly what the menu looks like:


Pressing tab again, while holding Alt will let you cycle to the next window.

7) The Windows Tab

Since Vista (maybe before not sure) you can also cycle through your windows like with Alt+Tab , but with more visual view using:

windows_buttonPlus signTab

Pressing the and holding the Windows Logo while pressing Tab will bring up a menu off all your open windows as such:


Pressing the Tab key again will cycle through the windows. Use your mouse to click on the window you want or cycle until the window you want it at the font

8) New window same Excel sheet

As I mentioned in point 6, Alt+Tab and Windows+Tab do not work on separate tabs in applications. So in Excel you wont see all your sheets, only the currently active one (though you’ll be able to cycle through other Excels).

There is a trick for that though. Select the spreadsheet you wish to be able to see separate tabs. Select The ‘View tab’ in the menu and go click on ‘New Window’ which is located in the Window section:


Note that on smaller screens the menu might be condensed, so the icon might look more something like this:alt_new_windowor even without the text. Look for it in the Window section

When you click it a new window will open of the same spreadsheet. Now you can alt tab between the two like two separate files.

Note though that if you save the file with the two windows open will save two open windows, so the next person opening it will also see two windows. This can led to issues if this has not been agreed upon. So remember to close the second window before saving if this has not been discussed with other users of the file.

9) Paste Values

For item 9 and 10 I will introduce the concept of Paste Special. You can access the paste special options any time using the Paste button from the Home tab of the menu (Earlier office versions you can get to Paste Special through the Edit menu):


To access Paste Special, click the little arrow below the Paste text. Pressing this will bring up several Paste Special options. One of Which is called paste values. When you do you copy a cell with a formula in it, pasting will keep a formula. But what if you just want the number (or date or text etc). This is where paste values comes in. For example If cell A1 has a formula =2+2 copying A1 into A2 will keep the formula. But doing Paste Values will paste in the number 4. Similarly if you have a cell that is shaded, doing Paste Values will only paste the value in the cell not the shading.

In Office 7 it will be written as Paste Values, while Office 10 has a section for it:


The regular Paste Values is the first one on the left. Select the cell you want to paste to and click Paste Values to paste only the value form the original cell.

Note that Paste Value itself will not copy any of the number formats. So if you have a date, doing Paste Values will likely give you a number. To overcome this use Paste Formats to keep the formatting. In Office 10 there is anew option in the Paste Values section that let’s you keep only the number format (second one from the left)

10) Paste Column Width

While Paste Special deserves and article on itself. I wanted to share one more little trick you can do with Paste Special in Excel, Paste Column Width. This option allows to copy the width of one column across to others. This is very handy when trying to copy a while table while keeping the same column widths. Or aligning column widths across the report.

Open the Paste Special menu as in point 9. But this time click on Paste Special… at the very bottom of the menu. This will bring up a new menu with additional options:


Select Column widths and Click OK. Now whichever columns you had selected before will have the width of the copied column. Note, no need to select the whole column just whichever cell you had selected.


Hope you find this useful and feel free to submit your feedback below

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation