Using just the keyboard, how do I fill in a dialog box?
Gerald Hoppe, Northport, New York
Dialog boxes may not seem keyboard-friendly at first (they're designed with mice in mind), but you can zip through them without lifting your hands off the keyboard if you employ the same keyboard shortcuts you use in your favorite applications. Besides, everybody knows you're more productive when you keep your hands on the keyboard.
Move to the next field in a dialog box by pressing Tab; go back to the previous field by entering Shift-Tab.
If the dialog box has multiple tabs, move between them by pressing Ctrl-Tab, or enter Ctrl-Page Down to move forward and Ctrl-Shift-Tab or Ctrl-Page Up to move back.
To select items in the current field or drop-down menu (and to make that drop-down menu appear), press the up- and down-arrow keys. To select the current item--for instance, to check an option box--press the space bar.
If an option has an underlined letter in its name, hold down the Alt key and press that letter to choose the option. If the dialog box displays the contents of a folder, and you have reason to believe that those contents have changed since you originally opened the dialog box, press F5 to refresh them.
Speaking of folders, if you need to see the folder that contains the current one (the parent folder), press Backspace.
And when you're done with the dialog box, don't click OK; just press Enter. Unless, of course, you want to abandon the dialog box without changing anything, in which case you should press Esc.