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Keep Your Hands Where They Belong: On the Keyboard

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Doug Anderson

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Posted: 3 Jun 1999

It's time all you DOS diehards fessed up; the GUI revolution was an incredible success. Computing has never been this easy. Whether or not you think Macintosh is way better than Windows, admit it, GUI is better than, well, not GUI. On the other hand, the old way had one thing going for it: speed. Once you learned the secret handshakes required, you could do an entire day's work without ever taking your hands off the keyboard. And repetitive motion injury concerns aside, isn't that really where your hands belong?

Even in this age of mice and mousing, magic keystrokes can make your life easier. When learning a new feature, the first thing developer types always want to know is what's the accelerator key? Accelerator keys are the Holy Grail of fast computing. Here's a common (but still nifty) example: bolding text (not in the literary sense by making it read more like Don Quixote, but in the typographical sense; that is, making the letters darker). You type the text, you reach for the mouse and either double-click the word or drag across the text to select it, then click the Edit menu, click Font, then click Bold. All just to make the letters a bit darker. Here's an easier way: you type the text, then, without taking your hands off the keyboard, press Shift+Ctrl+Left-arrow until the text you want to be bold is all selected. Now, leaving your hands where they belong (on the keyboard, of course), press Ctrl+B. Hey look at that! The text is now as bold as a man staring down windmills. Naturally the same thing works for italics (Ctrl+I) and underline (Ctrl+U).

So here's how we'll get you started in the club of secret handshakes: we'll provide some of the coolest, most useful, commonplace keystroke combinations, we'll drop some hints, we'll give you a list of other common accelerators, and send you on your way. We can't just give you a list of every keystroke combination in GroupWise for a couple of reasons. First, many magic keystrokes are not just GroupWise keystrokes, but are Windows standards, or conform to the CUA (Common User Access) keyboard, a nebulous standard, sometimes confused with SPECTRE of James Bond fame. Also, when we tried to get an overall picture of exactly which keystrokes GroupWise has, we found little pockets of knowledge all over development. In fact, more than one programmer asked us to return with any list of keystrokes we found. But experimenting with software is an adventure, so think of this article as a primer on using the keyboard; we'll keep you updated as we find more cool stuff.

Selecting Stuff

You can't manipulate text until you have it in your hand. And you can't bold, delete, move, or whatever text until you select it. And the Shift key is the way to do it. Anywhere there's text, get your insertion point at the text you want. While holding down the Shift key, press Left-arrow, Right-arrow, Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down to select as much or as little text as you want. For more control, press Shift+Ctrl while you arrow left or right, and you'll move one word at a time. Of course, once the text is selected, you'll use the old standby keystrokes, Ctrl+X to cut or Ctrl+C to copy, then Ctrl+V to paste.

If you're handling stuff instead of text, keystrokes can still help. In the GroupWise Item list (or in a Find Results list, or pretty much any list), you can select every item by pressing Ctrl+A. Or, if you simply want to select more than one item, use Shift+Up-arrow or Shift+Down-arrow to keep selecting. To move faster, press Shift+Page Up or Shift+Page Down. GroupWise selects anything visible above or below the item selected in the Item list. Once selected, the stuff is yours to control.

The Mystery of Tab

In addition to being the original one-calorie soft drink, Tab is a mighty useful navigation tool in GroupWise. Because, let's face it, sometimes GroupWise puts the focus on something you aren't interested in. For example, you open GroupWise, and your default setting has the Folder List, the Item List, and the QuickViewer all open (our preferred view around here in these caffeinated times). You scroll through your Item List looking for something interesting, waiting patiently while each item you scroll past is displayed in the QuickViewer. When one finally catches your eye, you start to read. But the text is longer than the window, so you reach for the Down-arrow key on your keyboard to scroll, but when you press it, instead of scrolling the message text, you scroll to the next message in the Item List. Aarrgghh. Calm down and try to get focused. That is to say, you need to change GroupWise's focus from the Item List to the QuickViewer, and the way to do that without reaching for you mouse, is by pressing Tab.

Tab is the universal focus mover in Windows applications. Pressing Tab in the GroupWise Main Window cycles the focus between the the Folder List, the Item List, and the QuickViewer. Pressing Tab while in a dialog box cycles the focus through each option in the dialog box. Pressing Shift+Tab moves the focus back the other way. For example, take the Cancel dialog box you get when you decide not to send a message you've been composing. The options are Yes, No, and Cancel.

Do you see how the Yes button has the focus? That means that if you press Enter (keeping your hands on the keyboard), GroupWise will try to preserve the message you're trying to get rid of. Your options are limited. You could panic and reach for the mouse to click No, or you could calmly press Tab, then Enter. See how easy that is? Try it in all your dialog boxes.

Of course, sometimes a Tab is just a Tab. Or you wish it was. Like in a mail message you're composing. You want to use Tabs to quickly format a small list if filenames, but every time you press Tab to move the text, instead of doing what you want, GroupWise stubbornly (or, to be generous, tenaciously), transfers focus to the Attachment window. Press Tab again, and GroupWise, like a puppy eager to please, moves the focus to the CC box. Garbage in, Garbage out, as they say. You need a little extra keystroke to create the old fashioned type of Tab to stop GroupWise from being so single-minded. Try pressing Ctrl+Tab. Problem solved.

Is it Pneumonic or Mnemonic?

Try this: look at the Help menu in GroupWise. See how the first letter in the word Help is underlined? That's called a mnemonic. And mnemonic is just another word for magic keystroke. If you're in GroupWise and you want to use a menu option, press the Alt key, let go, then look at the menu bar. Notice how the File menu is now a different color? That means it's all fired up and ready to serve. After pressing Alt, press the underlined letter of the menu you're after (for example, H for the Help menu). See how the menu opens? Now each menu option is yours to command; just press the underlined letter of the option you need. Mnemonics show up in menus and dialog boxes all over GroupWise, just standing and waiting (like Milton said, ?they also serve . . .?) for you to need them. In any dialog box, press Alt plus the underlined letter of the option you want.

We feel the need to remind you, should you ever say the word ?Mnemonic? aloud: it is mnemonic (sounds like namonic, as in sha namonic), not pneumonic (sounds like newmonic, as in new moniker). Pneumonic means ?of or relating to the lungs.? Not the same thing at all.

Here's a List:

This list is by no means comprehensive. It is simply a sample of some of the cool things you can do in GroupWise without ever taking your hands off the keyboard.




select all


bold text


copy selected text


open a new document (if focus is in the Folder List or the Item List)


begin a Find


go to today's date (when focus is in a calendar, of course)


italic text


attach a file to a message


open a new mail message


normal text


open the selected message


open the Print dialog box


open the QuickViewer (recommended)


mark the selected item unread (so you don't overlook it later)


save a draft of whatever you're doing (within reason) in the Work in Progress folder


underline text


paste selected text


cut selected text


display the properties of the selected item (very handy)

Ctrl+Up-arrow or Ctrl+Down-arrow

open the previous or next item


open online Help (very useful, trust us)


open the Spell Checker


open the Font dialog box (this isn't necessary as often now that we have the message enhancement pack C3PO in Downloadables)

Shift+Left-arrow or Shift+Right-arrow

select text one character at a time

Shift+End or Shift+Home

select text to the end or beginning of a line

Ctrl+Shift+Left-arrow or Ctrl+Shift+Right-arrow

select text one word at at time


you know what this is for (here's hoping you never have to use it from GroupWise)

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