Take Control of the Control Key when Reading and Editing Text
The Control Key is a powerful thing. It is used in many key commands (examples include Control + B to bold text, Control + Z to undo your last action, etc). But it can also be used in a totally different way. And it can be used whether or not you are using a screen reader or screen magnifier, so if you’re reading this message, you can use the following tech tip.
Did you know that you can add the Control Key to keys you use every day to change how they work? What’s great about these is that when using a screen reader, they expand your options regarding how you want to read text on a webpage or how your move around a document you are editing. You’re not limited to just using arrow keys on their own (which takes much longer and can be very frustrating). And those not using assistive technology can also benefit from using them in Word, Outlook, or other editing programs.
Control + Right/Left Arrow moves the cursor one word in that direction
Control + Up Arrow moves the cursor to the beginning of the current paragraph. Pressing it multiple times moves the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraphs (if they exist)
Control + Down Arrow moves the cursor to the end of the current paragraph. Pressing it multiple times moves the cursor to the end of subsequent paragraphs (if they exist)
Control + Home (or on some laptops, Control + FN Key + Left Arrow if it does not have a dedicated “Home Key”) will move the cursor to the very top of a document or page (Yes, even if you are on page 568 of a 575 page document)
Control + End (or on some laptops, Control + FN Key + Right Arrow if it does not have a dedicated “End Key”) will move the cursor to the very bottom of a document or page (Yes, even if you are on page 1 of a 575 page document)
Building on that information, adding the Shift Key to any of the shortcuts above will select the text (JAWS users, press Insert + Shift + Down Arrow to read selected text. NVDA users, press Insert +Shift + Up Arrow or Caps Lock + Shift + Up Arrow)
One more trick involving adding the Control Key (and this one is my favorite). Did you know you can delete a whole word at a time just by adding the Control Key to the Backspace or Delete Key?
Using Control + Backspace deletes an entire word. It sounds silly, but it is important to know that a “word” is not necessarily defined as letters separated by a space. In fact, many forms of punctuation count as a “word” in this context, so it’s important to pay attention to what is being erased. Anyway, if you press Control + Backspace once, it will delete the word located physically to the left of the cursor. Much easier to add that Control key to the Backspace than just holding it down and hoping you deleted the right number of characters…
Using Control + Delete deletes an entire word also, but it deletes the word physically located to the right of the cursor. Yes, it might be that using Delete instead of Backspace is more unusual for you, but it’s worth knowing about. FYI, the same rules about punctuation and words apply to this method as well.
I have to admit that I use these key command so often that I don’t even think about it anymore, it’s automatic. I am sure if you make a point of trying to use them once or twice a day, they’ll become part of your habit too!