Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
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Stop the Runaway Mouse
What's the "runaway mouse?" You've seen it...you
may have even yelled at your computer when it happened. All you want to
do is select (highlight) some text or data in a Microsoft Office
document by dragging your mouse.
Suddenly, your mouse has a mind of it's own and moves too far too fast.
I've even heard people shout out "Whoa!" as they try to handle the out
of control mouse.
What should you do? First, stop dragging your
mouse! To stop the "runaway mouse" add some keyboard shortcuts. To
begin, move to the top of the area you want to highlight. Then, press
and hold down [Shift]. Move to the end of the area by pressing any
directional keys such as the [Down] arrow or [Page Down]. Keep holding
down [Shift] and continue moving to the end of text or data that you
want to highlight. When you have the area you want then perform the next
action: formatting, editing, etc.
Still like the mouse? Press and hold [Shift] and
click to pick the end of the selection area even if it is at the end of
the document. The key is not to drag; use the scroll bar if you need to
make big moves.
Excel bonus: Okay, I admit there is a dragging
trick in Excel. Instead of pulling harder on the mouse to move to the
end of the selection, stop on the scroll bar. If you hop on and ride the
scroll bar and gently pull the mouse, you can easily maintain control.
Easy Keyboard Selection Secret
Even better than the [Shift] key is a hidden
selection trick. I compare this to taking the measurements of a large
room--it's much easier with a friend holding the measuring tape at one
end while you take your time to move to the other end. Ever have a
measuring tape snap back when you try this yourself? The hidden trick is
the [F8] function key.
To use this selection trick, simply:
- Move to
beginning of the selection area.
- Press [F8] once.
- Look in the bottom center or left corner of your status bar for
Extend Selection (EXT in Office 2003 and earlier); don't
expect anything to flash or pop up.
- Take your time moving to the end of the selection area with your
keyboard and/or the mouse.
- Perform the action to the selected area such as formatting, cut,
copy, etc. The Extend Selection mode turns off as soon as you do an action.
Just move anywhere to clear the highlight. What if you change your
mind and you want to turn off the Extend Selection without continuing?
In Excel, press [F8] again or press [Esc]. In Word,
press [Esc] to cancel. Move anywhere to clear the highlight.
Selecting Multiple Items
To select more than one item such as 2 different
paragraphs in Word, 4 cells in Excel, 3 graphics in PowerPoint, or 10
files in Windows Explorer, choose either [Shift] or [Ctrl]. The basic
steps work in Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer, and many other Windows
To select a contiguous (touching) area use [Shift]:
- Click once on the first item.
- Press and hold [Shift].
- Click on the last item that you want to highlight and everything
in between will also be selected.
- Perform an action such as formatting.
To select non-contiguous (unrelated) items use [Ctrl]:
- Click one on the first item.
- Press and hold [Ctrl] and, click on each of the other
items, press [Ctrl] again to unselect.
- Perform the action to finish working with the highlighted area.
Some ideas for these options:
- Pick files from File > Open to open all of these at the
same time in your Microsoft Office program.
- Choose multiple slides in the PowerPoint slide sorter to apply a
- Highlight groups of cells or sections of text and apply
- Select drawing objects to group, move, or change formatting.
Selecting Tricks in Word With the Selection Bar
Have you ever used the selection bar? Just think of
this as the left margin of your Word document. To locate the selection
bar area, move your mouse to the left of text until it changes from an
upper case "I" to a white arrow. Selection tricks to try with the
- Click once to highlight entire line.
- Double-click to select the whole paragraph.
- Triple-click (can you do it?) to highlight the entire document
(great for overall changes such as font formatting).
Easy Select All
To make changes to an entire document or file,
press [Ctrl] + A to Select All or choose File > Select All
More Selecting Shortcuts in Word & Excel
Want more ways to use the Word selection bar, the
[F8] extend selection key, and other tricks to highlight your data? For
instance, did you know that [Ctrl] + a mouse click will highlight an
entire sentence? Check out these handouts:
Microsoft Word - Selecting Text Tricks
Microsoft Excel - Moving & Selecting
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
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Press [F8] to turn on the
extend selection mode. Move to highlight and press [Esc] to
|Press and hold
[Shift] while moving to highlight text that you want to change.