What’s the “runaway mouse?” You’ve seen it … you may have even yelled at your computer when it happened. All you want to do is select (highlight) some text or data in a Microsoft Office document by dragging your mouse. Suddenly, your mouse has a mind of it’s own and moves too far too fast. I’ve even heard people shout out “Whoa!” as they try to handle the out of control mouse.
What should you do? First, stop dragging your mouse! To stop the “runaway mouse” add some keyboard shortcuts. To begin, move to the top of the area you want to highlight. Then, press and hold down [Shift]. Move to the end of the area by pressing any directional keys such as the [Down] arrow or [Page Down]. Keep holding down [Shift] and continue moving to the end of text or data that you want to highlight. When you have the area you want then perform the next action: formatting, editing, etc.
Still like the mouse? Press and hold [Shift] and click to pick the end of the selection area even if it is at the end of the document. The key is not to drag; use the scroll bar if you need to make big moves.
Excel bonus: Okay, I admit there is a dragging trick in Excel. Instead of pulling harder on the mouse to move to the end of the selection, stop on the scroll bar. If you hop on and ride the scroll bar and gently pull the mouse, you can easily maintain control.
Even better than the [Shift] key is a hidden selection trick. I compare this to taking the measurements of a large room–it’s much easier with a friend holding the measuring tape at one end while you take your time to move to the other end. Ever have a measuring tape snap back when you try this yourself? The hidden trick is the [F8] function key.
To use this selection trick, simply:
To select more than one item such as 2 different paragraphs in Word, 4 cells in Excel, 3 graphics in PowerPoint, or 10 files in Windows Explorer, choose either [Shift] or [Ctrl]. The basic steps work in Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer, and many other Windows programs.
To select a contiguous (touching) area use [Shift]:
To select non-contiguous (unrelated) items use [Ctrl]:
Have you ever used the selection bar? Just think of this as the left margin of your Word document. To locate the selection bar area, move your mouse to the left of text until it changes from an upper case “I” to a white arrow. Selection tricks to try with the selection bar:
To make changes to an entire document or file, press [Ctrl] + A to Select All or choose File > Select All (if available).
By Dawn Bjork, MCT, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Technology Speaker, Software Consultant