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Explain Keyboard And Shortcuts

A computer keyboard is one of the primary input devices used with a computer that looks similar to those found on electric typewriters, but with some additional keys. Keyboards allow you to input letters, numbers, and other symbols into a computer that can serve as commands or be used to type text.

QWERTY keyboard layout

Keyboard Connection Types

Many keyboards are wireless, communicating with the computer via Bluetooth or an RF receiver.

Wired keyboards connect to the motherboard via a USB cable, using the USB Type A connector. Older keyboards connect via a PS/2 connection. Keyboards on laptops are of course integrated, but technically would be considered "wired" since that's how they are connected to the computer.

Tablets, phones, and other computers with touch interfaces often don't include physical keyboards. However, most do have USB receptacles or wireless technologies that allow external keyboards to be attached.

Like tablets, most modern mobile phones utilize on-screen keyboards to maximize the screen size; the keyboard can be used when needed but then that same screen space can be used for other things like watching videos. If the phone does have a keyboard, it's sometimes a slide-out, hidden keyboard that rests behind the screen. This both maximizes available screen space as well as allows for a familiar physical keyboard.

Laptops and netbooks have integrated keyboards but, like tablets, can have external keyboards attached via USB.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Though most of us use a keyboard nearly every day, there are many keys you probably don't use, or at least aren't sure why you use them. Below are some examples of keyboard buttons that can be used together to form a new function.

Modifier Keys

Some keys you should become familiar with are called modifier keys. You'll probably see some of these in the troubleshooting guides here on my site; the Control, Shift, and Alt keys are modifier keys. Mac keyboards use the Option and Command keys as modifier keys.

Unlike a normal key like a letter or a number, modifier keys modify the function of another key. The regular function of the 7 key, for example, is to input the number 7, but if you hold down the Shift and 7 keys simultaneously, the ampersand (&) sign is produced.

Some of the effects of a modifier key can be seen on the keyboard as keys that have two actions, like the 7 key. Keys like this have two functions where the topmost action is activated with the Shift key.

Ctrl-C is a keyboard shortcut you're probably familiar with. It's used for copying something to the clipboard so that you can use the Ctrl-V combination to paste it.

Another example of a modifier key combination is Ctrl-Alt-Del. The function of these keys isn't as obvious because the instructions for using it aren't laid out on the keyboard like the key is. This is a common example of how using modifier keys can produce an effect that none of the keys can perform on their own, independent of the others.

Alt-F4 is another keyboard shortcut. This one instantly closes down the window you're currently using. Whether you're in an Internet browser or browsing through pictures on your computer, this combination will instantly close the one you're focused on.

Windows Key

Although the common use for the Windows key (a.k.a start key, flag key, logo key) is to open the Start menu, it can be used for many different things.

The Win-D is one example of using this key to quickly show/hide the desktop. Win-E is another useful one that quickly opens Windows Explorer.

Microsoft has a large list of keyboard shortcuts for Windows for some other examples. Win+X is probably my favorite.

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