Tip of the week # 657
3 June 2021

Ten ways to work faster using the Esc(ape) key on your keyboard *

Back in March 2013 I decided to drip-feed one shortcut per week. There's obviously nothing wrong with using the mouse, but many people find that keyboard shortcuts help them to work faster. And for users with mobility or vision disabilities it can be a very important alternative.

Today I would like you to know when I use the Esc key in the top left corner of my keyboard. In a nutshell, I use it every time I want to close one of these windows that pop up (a "dialog box"). It's instead of picking up my mouse and pressing the Cancel button.

But there is so much more you can use it for ...

Here's how:

  1. Close a dialog box
  2. Close the File tab
  3. Close a right-click drop-down menu
  4. Save and close your comment in Word
  5. Exit a Slide Show in PowerPoint
  6. Dismiss AutoComplete suggestions in Excel
  7. Cancel a formula in Excel
  8. Remove the "marquee" (the dotted line) in Excel following a copy/paste
  9. Close the Suggested Searches in Outlook
  10. Open the Task Manager (OK, I cheated a little bit with this one, as you need to press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC.)

Do any of you use your Escape key for anything else? I'd love to know!

Related tips

  1. Quickly close a dialog box : tip_262.php
  2. Ten things you may not know about Comments : tip_652.php
  3. Using the Esc(ape) button on your keyboard : tip_84.php
  4. Display the right-click drop-down menu using a key on your keyboard : tip_441.php
  5. Fast way to close a program that isn't responding : tip_460.php

* Unless stated otherwise this tip is written for Microsoft 365 desktop apps and Windows 10 users, but might also be useful in Office 2010, 2013 and 2016.