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PC Tip of the Month

Select Text Using Keyboard Shortcuts

September 2020 – by Per Christensson

When most people think of selecting text in a word processor, they think of clicking and dragging over a block of text with their mouse. This tried-and-true method works well, but it's not the only way. Did you know you can use the Shift key to select text?

Shift + Mouse Click

Both Mac and Windows allow you to select a block of text by holding Shift, and then clicking somewhere else within the text. It will select the text between the cursor and the location you click.

Shift + Arrow Keys

You can also use the Shift key along with the arrow keys to select text. It only takes two steps:

  1. Move the text cursor (I-bar) to a location within in the text.
  2. Hold the Shift key and press an arrow key to begin selecting text.

You will start selecting text in the direction of the arrow you press. For example, holding Shift and pressing Right Arrow will select one character to the right of the cursor. Pressing Right Arrow again will select two characters. You can hold the Right Arrow key to select several characters at once.

Shift + Left Arrow selects text to the left of the cursor, Shift + Up Arrow selects a line above the cursor, and Shift + Down Arrow selects a line below the cursor. The Up/Down Arrow keyboard shortcuts are a quick and easy way to select several lines of text at once.

Want to select an entire word? Windows and macOS have shortcuts for that too.

Windows: Press Shift + Control + Right/Left Arrow Mac: Press Shift + Option + Right/Left Arrow

▶ In macOS, you can also hold Command + Shift + Right/Left Arrow to select an entire line of text.

These simple text shortcuts can save you a lot of time as you type. And you won't even have to move your mouse!

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