Keyboard Shortcuts and Option Tweaks for Microsoft Office Programs

I want to talk with you today about one of my favorite tips for getting around in Microsoft Office programs: keyboard shortcuts.

Microsoft has given us multiple ways to accomplish any task, including the Ribbon, right-clicking the mouse and keyboard shortcuts. Any power user will tell you, however, that you will work more proficiently if you spend less time using the mouse.

That’s where keyboard shortcuts come in.

What are keyboard shortcuts?

There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts out there, and you can even create your own. But if you are interested in a complete list by program, click the link on screen to go to Microsoft’s website.

(By the way, keyboard shortcuts can also be referred to as command shortcuts, but they are the same thing.)

How do keyboard shortcuts work?

Most keyboard shortcuts involve holding down one or more keys simultaneously. Also, most keyboard shortcuts use the Control key plus a letter. There are some, however that will add Alt and/or Shift to the key press combination, and some that involve just the Function keys at the top of your keyboard.

The most common example of keyboard shortcuts are the ones for Copy and Paste.

In the video you can see that I have  highlighted some text. By pressing Ctrl and the letter C at the same time I copy that information to the pasteboard.

Now I will deselect by pressing the arrow key, and then press the return key a couple of times to add in a few new lines.

Now I will press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V and you’ll see my name pasted onto the new line. (When you see the plus sign used in this way you don’t actually type the plus sign.)

Microsoft broke the Open Keyboard shortcut… or did they?

Microsoft introduced a hitch in Office 2013 that potentially blocked one keyboard shortcut from working efficiently. In Office 2010 and earlier, the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + O would take you to a list of your files, normally your documents library.

As you can see in the video, however, the shortcut now takes me to the Backstage and forces me to use the mouse to find and open files.

I’ll press the Escape key now to get out of the Backstage and return to my document.

The solution to making Ctrl + O work in Office 2013

Luckily, the engineers at Microsoft also gave us a way around the hitch, but they hid it in that spookiest of all places, the Options dialog.

Remember, you always get back into the Backstage by clicking on the File tab on the ribbon.

On the bottom left side of the Backstage is the Options button. When I click on it, a dialog box opens that too few people have every looked at.

Here in Word I have the choice of 10 different buttons on the right hand side. The number of buttons and what they say will vary from Office program to program, but almost all of them have the Save button.

The fix we’re looking for is on the Options Save screen, so I’ll go ahead and click on Save.

And lo and behold, the third checkbox from the top says “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files.” I’ll go ahead and place a checkmark beside that selection, and click on OK at the bottom of the dialog.

Now when I use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + O for Open you can see I jump straight to my list of files, which I can navigate very easily using the keyboard.

But wait, there’s more…

The same Option to “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files” is in all Microsoft Office programs. The good news is that when I click the checkbox in one program it simultaneously checks it in all other Office programs.  As I open Excel and navigate to the same Options dialog, you’ll see that the checkbox is now checked by default.

It doesn’t matter which office program you start in, but there can be differences between all of the Options dialog boxes. This is most prevalent in Microsoft Access.

As you can see, the choices in the Access Options dialog box are different, and there is no Save button.

Instead, you’ll have to go to Client Settings on the left side, then scroll down to the Display section and find the checkbox and click on it if necessary.