Management Assistance Program

Alt Key “Magic” Shortcuts in Word

By Jim Calloway

Keyboard shortcuts are useful timesavers. It is easy to remember the ones we use all the time (Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + Z) but harder to remember those that are used less frequently. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a shortcut to the shortcuts?

Try this. Open any Word document. Hit the Alt key. Many black boxes with numbers and letters appear on the Ribbon and the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Most of us have seen this view before and our first reaction was “Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that!” followed by relief as the Esc key got rid of the boxes and we continued with our document.

This feature has a name — KeyTips. Type any of the letters or numbers displayed and it is as if you used the mouse to click on the link, but faster. If there is a dropdown, it is displayed with additional numbers or letters. This is a great tool for people with vision issues or who just hate using a mouse. For example, to insert an Endnote in a document, I first click the References tab and then click Insert Endnote. Using KeyTips, I sequentially hit Alt, then S, then E and the blank Endnote is now waiting for me to begin typing. These shortcuts will vary between users because of differences in the Ribbon and QAT.

If you don’t remember a KeyTips shortcut, they are all displayed on your screen.

Originally posted in Oklahoma Bar Association’s Courts and More, October 4, 2023.