You d be hard put to find a computer user who doesn t know what a keyboard is, but it would probably be nearly as difficult to find a computer user who uses the keyboard to the max. This chapter shows you how to configure your keyboard as well as possible and use such accessibility options as may help you. The chapter starts by making sure you know your way around your keyboard and the correct way to press keyboard shortcuts. After all, there s no point in getting the basics wrong.
You might also benefit from upgrading to a better keyboard. The appendix discusses the different types of keyboards available and suggests how to choose among them.
A standard PC keyboard (Figure 1-1) contains 101 or 104 keys that break down as follows :
Twenty-six letter keys for the letters a through z.
A [Spacebar] to put spaces between characters .
Two sets of keys for the single-digit numbers (0 through 9), one set appearing as a row above the letter keys and one set on the numeric keypad. The row of number keys double as symbol keys, and the numeric keypad keys double as navigation keys.
Fifteen to 18 keys for mainstream punctuation symbols (for example, comma, period, and semicolon) and other symbols (for example, + and ~). The numeric keypad typically includes symbols used for basic mathematical operations (+ for addition, “ for subtraction, / for division, and * for multiplication) and a period for a decimal place.
A [Tab] key for entering tabs and for navigating from one interface element to another.
Two [Enter] keys for entering carriage returns and clicking the selected button in dialog boxes.
Two [Shift] keys to change the case of the key pressed, and a [CapsLock] key to lock the letter keys in the capital position.
Six other modifier keys: two [Ctrl] keys, two [Alt] keys, and two buttons (discussed in the next section).
An [Insert] key for toggling Insert mode.
A [Delete] key for deleting the selection or the character after the insertion point, and a [Backspace] key for deleting the character before the insertion point.
Eight or more navigation keys: four arrow keys ( , ’, ‘, and “), a [Home] key for moving to the beginning of an item, an [End] key for moving to the end of an item, a [PageUp] key for moving up by a page of information, and a [PageDown] key for moving down by a page.
Twelve function keys, numbered [F1] to [F12] , for invoking functionality built into the operating system and into applications.
A [ScrollLock] key that toggles the locking on the scrolling function.
A [NumLock] key for locking on the numeric keypad.
A [PrintScreen] (or [PrtScr] ) key for capturing what appears on screen.
A [Pause/Break] key for special functions.
An [Esc] key for canceling an action or clicking the Cancel button in a dialog box.
A context menu key (or shortcut menu key) for displaying the context menu or shortcut menu.
Figure 1-1: A standard 104-key keyboard layout