As a general rule, the more comfortable you are with the operating system, the more you prefer to keep your hands at the keyboard. Reducing the number of trips your hand makes for the mouse can, over the long haul, reduce fatigue and improve efficiency.
Most power users quickly learn many of the Ctrl, Alt, and Shift shortcuts that make computer operation easier. For example, drafting this chapter is made less work-intensive with the Ctrl key because it lets me quickly jump between words and paragraphs while using the keyboard arrows. I won't go through all the Ctrl shortcuts, as most users could rattle off uses for Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V more easily than they could give the names of their elected representatives. Besides, most applications identify the keyboard shortcuts in their menu selections or tooltips.
A few command key shortcuts, however, are less known and are worth a specific mention.
For example, when you double-click a folder in Windows Explorer, the folder will open either using the current window or in a new window, depending on how the Folder Options have been set. Figure 7-13 shows the Folder Options available as you double-click.
Figure 7-13. Opening in a new window or the current window.
Which option you use is a matter of personal preference. But what many users don't realize is that you can modify the folder opening behavior with the Shift and Ctrl keys.
Let's assume, for instance, that you've kept the default Explorer behavior: new folders open in the current window. You're double-clicking around, opening folders, and now have a folder open, but want to see what was in the parent folder without closing the current one. Further, you don't want to open a second instance of Explorer, start from the root, and work your way down again.
Use the Ctrl key instead. Just hold down the Ctrl key and click the Up button on the folder's toolbar. A new Explorer window opens at the currently selected target folder.
You can also use the Ctrl key while double-clicking a folder, which will again change the currently configured behavior. Assuming the same Folder Options setting as we described previously, this action keeps the current window open and opens the selected folder in a new window.
Another handy use of a command key: If you have multiple Explorer windows open, closing each one by clicking the X (close) button in the top-right corner can be a tedious exercise. Use the Shift key insteadyou can close all open parent and child folders with a single click. Just hold down the Shift key and click the X to close one of the child folders.