Changing the view in Windows Explorer in Windows 8

Changing the view in Windows Explorer (File Explorer) is a frequent task. Views are different arrangements of files like large icons, detail and so on.

The keyboard shortcuts used in Windows 7 do not work in Windows 8. Here is a good set of keyboard shortcuts you should know for Windows 8. There are 8 shortcuts.
Ctrl Shift 1 to 8. Let us explore this a little more…

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Using Mouse Efficiently – Part 3

Please read the previous two articles first. In this article we continue to explore the mouse usage scenarios further. In this article, I am using an abbreviated writing styles – using minimal words, reducing long paragraphs… making it short, sweet and to the point. Let me know if you like this style.

Drag Drop

Common activity. Usually used for Copy Paste operations.

Very nice feature – RIGHT DRAG DROP

Press the RIGHT mouse button while dragging and dropping … and see what happens.



You get a set of menus to choose from. Read the menus and then enjoy.
You will discover many options you always wanted…

Explanation: When you drag drop using left mouse – the default action happens.
Who decides the default action? The vendor who created the software.
But the default is chosen based upon what most users want in that situation.

Default is fine. But more actions may be possible. These are exposed to you when you perform RIGHT DRAG DROP

Here is a common place… go to Excel, type a number and drag it down (regular left drag)
It repeats the number. But try a RIGHT drag and see the options…


Homework: For the next few days, try right drag drop in places where you usually drag drop – and learn more!

Canceling drag drop

Sometimes you start dragging something and change your mind. How to cancel the operation without any damage?

Think a little – guess … ESC key.

Blind Drag Drop

Common scenario. you are composing a mail. you want to attach a file… you open  Windows Explorer… find the file – drag the file …. now there is a problem if you cant see the mail window

That is when we try to copy and paste. No need to do so.

Drag from one window, take the cursor to the Outlook icon on the taskbar..
Even if there are multiple Outlook windows shown it is ok…
Move cursor on the thumbnail or name of the desired window and ..


Now the window will automatically come in front… move the mouse and then complete the drag drop]

Drag Drop Across multiple monitors

If you use multiple monitors, you can drag-drop items across the monitors. This is useful when you have a laptop and an external monitor / LCD screen attached.

Depending upon where the external monitor is physically kept in relation to your laptop, your mouse cursor can move from edge of your screen to the external desktop. This is configured using Display Properties – Settings tab. This tab will show two monitors. If monitor 2 is physically on the left side of base laptop, then you can move the monitor 2 icon accordingly.


Once this is configured, the laptop mouse cursor will move over to the external monitor from the LEFT edge.

If monitor 2 was configured to be on the right side of the laptop screen, the mouse cursor will spillover from the RIGHT edge of laptop screen.

You can even arrange the second monitor above or below the main laptop screen. This configuration is often done when your external monitor is physically installed above your work table to save space.

Observe the mouse cursor while dragging

This is very important. It changes to show many useful things during drag drop… Observe it and try to decipher the meaning…

Best example to illustrate this is drag dropping fields into a Pivot Table (Classic mode only – blue border pivots).

When you start dragging a field and move to the Excel sheet, cursor is like this

when you are over row, column or data area it changes dynamically.




Observe it and you will never make the mistake of dragging a field to the wrong area in Pivot table!

Mouse Wheel

Used for scrolling vertically.

Document Zoom In / Out

Press CTRL key and move the wheel – ZOOM in and out the document. Practice it a little.

Useful scenarios:

  1. Zoom in to do intricate work an zoom out to see overall impact in a PowerPoint slide or Word Document
  2. Find missing areas of data quickly – zoom out maximum in Excel
  3. Useful while browsing web pages as well

If you just move the scroll wheel while the cursor is over the RIBBON (Office 2007 onwards), it changes the selected menu (Tab) very quickly.

If you don’t use a mouse with your laptop, this feature can still work if you have a touch pad with right margin configured for scrolling.

Horizontal Scrolling: Tilt Wheel

Most newer models of mice have a horizontal scroll facility, called the “Tilt Wheel”. This is often ignored and we never end up using it.

Here are some common uses of horizontal scrolling.

1. Excel: Horizontal scrolling is probably most important in Excel as you have large number of columns to view.
But I find the keyboard shortcut SNAGHTML1683205SNAGHTML1685627 or SNAGHTML1683205SNAGHTML168a263 more convenient here.

2. Large browser pages. Some browser pages are very wide and therefore horizontal scrolling is necessary

3. PowerPoint / Word document with large Zoom level

4. Photographs / images which are too large for your screen

5. Any document which needs Panning functionality.

Tilt wheel may not be supported by all software applications.

Ribbon Tabs and Scroll Wheel

This is a very useful tool.

Just position the mouse cursor anywhere on the ribbon and use Scroll Wheel. It shuffles the ribbon tabs – try it NOW.


Using Keyboard along with mouse

Mouse has limited number of buttons.
But combining it with keyboard keys (Shift, Alt, Ctrl) makes it more versatile and useful.

SNAGHTML17077a3 + Mouse Drag = Copy

Generally while working with shapes / objects/ files if you press Ctrl key while dragging, it usually means COPY the object. To indicate the copy operation, the mouse cursor typically shows a PLUS sign. If you don’t see the plus sign, it means a MOVE operation!

This works with file drag drop as well. The default action is reversed by pressing CTRL key while dragging a file. If you are dragging a file from one folder to another on the SAME drive – default action is MOVE. Across drives, default action is COPY. So be careful while pressing CTRL key while dragging files.

SNAGHTML17077a3[5] Resize = Resize from center

Usually, to increase the size of a picture or shape, you drag from the corner. However, this disturbs the alignment of the picture because it grows in size in the direction you drag. If you press Ctrl key while dragging from any corner, resize happens, but without disturbing the center position.


This is very useful for resizing pictures after pasting in PowerPoint.
Pasted object is automatically put in the center – usually.
Exception… if you copy an object from one slide and paste it into another slide, it is pasted in the ORIGINAL position – not the center of the slide. Nice touch … someone thought about our convenience!

Zoom in and out with SNAGHTML17077a3[7] Scroll

We have covered this above.

Discontinuous selection using SNAGHTML17077a3[9]key

To select items (like a shape) we usually click on them. To select text / data we click and then drag.

But what if we want to some items and skip some items?
That is when CTRL key is useful.

Here is an example:


Click on the first file to select it, then keep pressing CTRL key and click on rest of the files. When you finish selection, release the CTRL key

Similar concept works in Excel if you want to select multiple ranges.

SNAGHTML17138ef key

Very useful for selecting many things which are far away from each other.
Windows Explorer – want to select from fifth file to the last file…
Click the fifth file…. use scroll bar to move to the last file…
Press SHIFT key .. keep it pressed and then click on the last file
Now release the SHIFT key.

It can also be used with CTRL key to select combination of continuous and discontinuous object selections. Difficult to describe – try it out.

SNAGHTML171dc34[5] key

In MS Office (up to version 2003) Pressing Alt key makes all menus and visible toolbars customizable (without opening the Tools – Customize dialog)

While pressing ALT key you can drag any menu item and move it to another place. If you want to COPY it, you need to press CTRL key as well.

This feature DOES NOT work from Office 2007 onwards. In newer versions, right click on the desired toolbar button and choose Add To Quick Access Toolbar (see this blog post for details).

Last article in this series coming up soon…

We will discuss how to use mouse to learn new features, while you work… This is a completely new (and originally unintended) use of mouse!

Useful keyboard shortcuts in Word

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Keyboard shortcuts for Word

Before you use these shortcuts, please read this article: How to Create Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some shortcuts which I have found useful. DO NOT try to memorize the shortcuts. Only if you use the functionality frequently you need to find or create and remember the shortcut.

Download a one page Word file

Triple Click Triple click anywhere in a paragraph to select the entire paragraph.
Shift Alt Up / Down arrow Press Shift Alt Up / Down arrow to move entire paragraphs up or down. Also works with multiple selected paragraphs and PowerPoint bullets.
Ctrl A Select Entire Document


Copy a picture of entire screen to the Clipboard. Ctrl V to paste it.

Use Alt PrtScr to copy only the active window image.

Ctrl Alt 1 / 2 / 3 Apply style Heading 1, 2 or 3
Ctrl Click Selects the current Sentence.
Ctrl Scroll


Pressing CTRL key while moving the mouse wheel zooms in / out. Works in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, Internet Explorer and many other products.
Ctrl U

Ctrl Y

Ctrl Z = Undo last action

Ctrl Y = Redo last action

Supports 100 levels of undo / redo by default.

Ctrl Shift

> or <

Increase or decrease font size of the selected text.
Ctrl Alt V Paste Special. Provides many options to paste copied content in different formats.

Ctrl V does default paste.

Ctrl Shift V Paste only formatting from the source (Press Ctrl Shift C to copy).

Equivalent to the toolbar button called Format Painter


Or PgUp

If pressed after Finding some text, finds next or previous occurances of the found item being searched for.
Ctrl Shift N Apply Normal Style.

Useful when you want to remove all unwanted formatting and revert the text to regular body text quickly.

Ctrl Alt I Switch to Print Preview
Ctrl Alt M Insert a comment for the selected text or current position in text.
Ctrl Backspace / Ctrl Del Delete
one word to the
left (Ctrl Backspace) or
right(Ctrl Del)

Press Shift F7 for better communication


This key opens the thesaurus in Office products (including Outlook).

So what is the big deal?

Well… many of us know that the thesaurus exists. But we rarely use it.

Start using it more frequently.

Scenarios where thesaurus should be used

  1. Stinker Mails: Replying to mails where some kind of fight is happening or you are really angry with someone and writing a stinker … Press F7… choose the right words carefully. See the difference it makes.
  2. Writing copy for mailers, brochures, etc. Using the right word matters because this is going to be seen by thousands of people.
  3. Presentation titles: These are seen first. The space available is less. If the title is not relevant and powerful, audience will not read the rest of the content. Therefore, use F7.
  4. Resume: This is probably the most important document in our lives. So pay attention to it.

Warning: Don’t use big words. Use the right words!

There is a danger of using the Thesaurus. We tend to choose heavy, sophisticated, complex words instead of using simpler words. That is NOT the purpose of using a thesaurus.

The idea is to use the most suitable and impactful word in a given context.

If you are not sure about the usage, you can click on the word to get more details…


Remember to hear pronunciations as well

Many of us pronounce common words in a wrong manner. In most cases, people around us either don’t realize it, don’t care or are too junior to tell you about your mistake. So that reduces clarity of verbal communication – especially if you talk on stage often.

It is a good idea to hear the pronunciation and correct yourself if you notice a problem.

Copy Paste – Part 13 – A better shortcut for Paste Special

Most common ways of invoking Paste Special are:

  • Alt E S keyboard shortcut
    This was the older (2003 or before) version shortcut – Alt E = Edit Menu, S was the hotkey for Paste Special
  • Open the dropdown of Paste in Home tab in the ribbon and choose Paste Special
  • Right click – Paste Special

A better shortcut

Although all these methods work, Microsoft added a NEW shortcut since Office 2007. Most people don’t discover it. The shortcut is


Why should you use this shortcut?

The reason is simple. Paste Special is a variation of Paste. Paste shortcut is CTRL V. For Paste Special CTRL ALT V is more intuitive. It is definitely better than using mouse anyway.

But there is more to it.

Compare the actual act of pressing the older shortcut –


On the fact of it, there are three keys to be pressed in either case. So what is the difference?

Let me show you the difference using a keyboard layout.

You try pressing Alt E S using left hand and see the position of fingers.

Now compare it with CTRL V and CTRL ALT V

Usually we press CTRL key using little finger and V using index finger. The middle finger is anyway resting near ALT key. Look at the photo on left side – I have intentionally flexed the middle finger to expose the Alt key.

You just have to decide is it Paste or Paste Special at the last moment. If it is paste, don’t press the middle finger, if it is paste special – just press the middle finger (right side photo)


Another alternative is little finger for Ctrl, Index finger for V and thumb for Alt – which is also convenient. You try it out yourself and choose the method which is most comfortable to you.

This is ergonomics!

Imagine the amount of effort the Office team is taking to make our life easier and healthier… it is just that we simply don’t notice these things and therefore are not able to utilize the products effectively.

By the way, the imageshortcut works across ALL Office products. Including Project and Visio.

No Paste Special option in OneNote. Why?

It does not work for OneNote because OneNote does not have Paste Special functionality at all. It does not mean that you cannot choose the paste format in OneNote. It does offer four paste options as expected:


In that case, the question is – why did Microsoft not choose a default format for paste and provide Paste Special in OneNote (like all other products)? Just to avoid a Paste Special dialog? That does not sound like a good reason.

This is my guess but I think that is the logical explanation.

The reason OneNote does not have two separate options – Paste and Paste Special – because :

  1. OneNote is used for various types of copy paste from diverse sources. And it is a comparatively new product – and most people don’t even know that it exists – even if they have it installed! Therefore, Microsoft did not / could not finalize a default format based upon common user behavior pattern.
  2. If you have started right clicking instead of Paste or Paste Special – as recommended in my earlier article, you will realize that the demarcation between paste and paste special is simply irrelevant.

Next article

Although the Copy Paste series is far from over, I will deviate from it and show you how to find useful keyboard shortcuts and reduce the damage to your wrist and tendons (which can happen due to excessive usage of mouse, among other things).