Tame your computer - take a shortcut

In her regular series for Cambridge Network members - now in its 15th year - software training expert Karen Roem offers handy tips to help you 'Tame your computer'. This week she describes ten useful keyboard shortcuts you can do with your spacebar.

Roem tip time logo

Earlier this week I rediscovered a keyboard shortcut using the spacebar that I had totally forgotten … CTRL + spacebar to select a column in an Excel table, no matter where your cursor is in that column. OK, it was a long time ago that I wrote about it (coming up to four years, to be precise) but it goes to show that if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

Over the years I’ve found out lots of things you can do with your spacebar other than obviously entering a space between words during typing.

So herewith a few of my favourite things. (Apologies to anyone who finds themselves humming this Sound of Music song for the rest of the day!)

ExcelCTRL + SPACEBARSelect the data in a column of a table
ExcelSHIFT + SPACEBARSelect the data in a row of a table
Word and Outlook* + SPACEBAR Start a bulleted list
Word and OutlookNumber + dot + SPACEBARStart a numbered list
Word and OutlookCTRL + SPACEBARRemove character formatting such as fonts, italics/bold, font size. (Paragraph formatting such as indents and line spacing is kept.)
Word and OutlookCTRL + SHIFT + SPACEBARInsert non-breaking space (I know – very obscure, but I once got a question about it.)
PDF, Firefox, ChromeSPACEBARScroll down the page
PDF, Firefox, ChromeSHIFT + SPACEBARScroll up


Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box
WindowsALT + SPACEBAROpen the shortcut menu for the active window

Do you use any of these? Or after today, do you think you’ll use any of them?

By the way, back in March 2013 I decided to drip-feed one shortcut per week on my home page. All 207 (!) can be found in the ever-growing tip archive with a link to one of my more detailed tips that I've been cranking out since 2003 (like I’ve done in the table above). And no, there’s obviously nothing wrong with using the mouse, but many people find that keyboard shortcuts help them to work faster. And for users with mobility or vision disabilities it can be a very important alternative.

This tip is written for Microsoft 365 desktop apps and Windows 10 users, but might also be useful in Office 2010, 2013 and 2016. I meticulously test every tip I write to make sure it is correct, easy to understand and time-saving. Let me know if something isn't clear or doesn't work.

11 October 2021

Karen Roem offers software training and support through her company Roem Ltd.  Contact her by email (Karen@roem.co.uk) or visit her website at www.roem.co.uk

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