The Daily Ping

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November 6th, 2002

Tips and Tricks Brigade

Many times, people come up to me on the street and say, “Paul, you’re such a computer whiz. What’s your secret?” When I tell them that I’m a prototype for a new type of human hybrid, they scurry along.

Truth be told, though, there are a number of tips I’ve taken for granted… and it’s high time they be shared with others. You might know about them, or you might not. Feel free to add your own “secret stash” of tips.


  • Pressing Tab will jump between fields in a form. This works on the web and in most programs, too.
  • On drop-down fields, the arrow keys will navigate up and down in the list. You can also press the first letter of the item name you want to select (“I” for “Illinois”). On Windows, you can keep pressing that letter to rotate through all the options that start with that letter.
  • Enter or Return submits most forms.

Mac OS X

  • If your title bar has a document icon for the document you’re currently working on, you can do magic things with it. Command-click it, and you’ll see the hierarchy of its location on your disk. Drag it elsewhere, and it acts the same as dragging the actual file from the Finder.
  • You can Command-drag items on the right side of the menu bar to your heart’s desire.


  • If an on-screen word has an underlined letter in it, in theory you can press Alt-(that letter) to jump to its field. However, some programs allow you to do this with just (that letter), and some don’t allow it at all (oops). The shortcuts for menus (Alt-F for File) do tend to work in almost all situations.

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