Weekly Computer Tip # 242
23 August 2008

Faster form filling, using your keyboard

OK, I know that as soon as I click on Send I will get hundreds of Out of Office messages but as last week I was making my way through the canals of Amsterdam by water bike rather than sending a tip, I didn't want to miss yet another week. (Apparently people from Amsterdam look down their nose at water bikes, but tourists - which is what I am these days - love it. No prizes for guessing who has the most fun.) Anyway, on with the tip in the hope you'll all read - and love - it upon your return ...

Lots of websites, or programs such as Microsoft Access, work with online forms where you have to enter data, mimicking paper forms. Web forms are often used to book flights or order a product but also - in programs such as OpenText's document management system, Livelink - to search for data. But filling out these forms can be cumbersome if you use your mouse to click in the various fields. So why not use your keyboard instead?

Here's how:

  1. Press the [TAB] key to move your cursor from field to field.
  2. Press [SHIFT] + [TAB] to move your cursor to the previous field.
  3. Press [TAB] until you activate a button - such as Submit or OK - and press [ENTER] to simulate a mouse-click.
  4. Type the first letter or a number in a drop-down list and the first occurrence of that letter will appear. Type the same letter or number once more and the next occurrence in the list will appear. Alternatively, use your arrow keys to move through the drop-down list and press [TAB] when the correct entry appears to move to the next field.
  5. Press the spacebar to select or unselect a check box.

Give it a go - it's easier done than said!