What the Alt key can do for you in Office 365 - Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay Most of us just use what we know or are shown by others. Most of us don’t have time to investigate what other things are there for our use. That is why we need to go on training courses to learn maybe just a few new “tricks” that will help us enormously. Much more than we ever thought they would before we knew about them. It’s a really good idea to talk to your peers and say I really wish I could do this or do it quicker. One of them probably knows how and just thinks everyone else know too.

We use the keyboard all the time but some people just don’t see every key. They don’t see that some can change their lives. One such key is the ALT key. There are two, one is on the left of the space bar and the other on the right. Thought this one is Alt Gr. Both do separate jobs unlike the SHIFT keys that do exactly the same.

We are going to look at the left hand one. The simple Alt key. But for me not so simple at all, this has a host of “goodies” attached.

For example, you may need the degree sign. To do this it would take you a little while to find it and insert it but if you knew that by pressing the Alt key followed by 0176 (on the number pad of your keyboard NOT the numbers across the QUARTY keyboard) gave you the degree sign, wouldn’t you use it every time? Or the copyright sign, Alt then 0169 or any of the other symbols that you need frequently.

How to find the correct codes

  • Write down the symbols you use on a regular basis.
  • Select the insert tab.
  • Select the Symbols tool at the end of that tab. Symbol Tool
  • Make sure the font is set to (normal text).
  • Symbols keyboard
  • Select one of the symbols you need.
  • At the bottom right of this dialog box you will see the character code, and the correct section being from the ASCII (decimal) right next to that.
  • When you use it, you need to place a zero in front of the code.
  • When you find the symbols you need just jot down the code number and look at the rest as there may be one or two that you dint know you needed.

What else can the ALT Key do?

There are other things this key can get you to a little quicker than the mouse.

For example:

  1. To insert a picture you have on your network.
  • Press the Alt Key.
  • Notice there is a letter in the ribbon area for each tab. Type n for the insert tab.
  • Type p for the picture option.
  • Type d for this device option.

So what you end up learning is a sequence of letters after the Alt key to get to your preferred item quickly.

Alt, n, p, d

Gives you this dialog box in Excel. Insert picture dialog box

Here you would locate where the image resides and select it in the normal way.

There are many ways to get to the item you require and sometimes the mouse is the fastest and sometimes the keyboard, sometimes there are many ways even with the keyboard. You just need to find the one that suits you best.

In previous tips I listed all the actions the Shortcut keys can do. There are 8 lists in all that you can view on our site.


Using the Keyboard to access tabs in Windows.

Tips – Navigate and select text in Word using the keyboard



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