Tech Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts Can Save Time for Access Technology Users

Fingers on a computer keyboard

For people with low vision, performing certain computer tasks using a mouse can be time consuming. Locating the proper icon and clicking on it can take a several seconds. That can add up to a significant chunk of lost time over the course of an entire work day.

This is especially true for people using a high level of magnification. One option to save time is to use keyboard shortcuts. Both the Windows and Mac operating systems have built-in keyboard shortcuts that allow you to perform specific functions just by hitting a few keys on your keyboard.

One important task you can save time on by using a keyboard shortcut is closing your current program or window. In Windows, you can press ALT + F4 to close most programs. On a Mac, you can do it by pressing COMMAND + Q. This eliminates the need to move the mouse to the x in the top right corner of the window.

Another useful shortcut is ALT + TAB on Windows, or COMMAND + TAB on Mac. This shortcut allows you to change tabs without having to move to the bottom of your screen to search for the tab that you want. This is particularly useful when using high magnification, where you can usually only see one window at a time.

Most popular applications also have keyboard shortcuts. For example, when working in most Microsoft Office applications, pressing CONTROL + S on Windows or COMMAND + S on a Mac will save your current document. No more searching the top portion of the screen for the floppy disk icon.

While keyboard shortcuts are useful for screen magnification users, they are essential for those who use screen readers, such as JAWS or Voiceover, since users of these products do not use a mouse at all. Many screen reading software users learn these commands while they are learning to use their screen reader of choice.

There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts available on both Windows and Mac. You can easily find them by Googling “keyboard shortcuts” followed by the name of the application. For instance, searching “Keyboard shortcuts Microsoft Outlook” will bring up a number of sites that list many keyboard commands for that program.

There are many more shortcuts out there than you will ever have a need for. However, taking note of some of the keyboard commands you use frequently can really improve your efficiency when working with some applications.

If you are interested in one-on-one instruction on using keyboard commands, or any other accessibility features on your computer, contact Access Technology Specialist Jim Denham at or (608) 237-8104. Happy keyboarding!

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