The keyboard is the main way to enter information into your computer. Are you controlling your keyboard, or is your keyboard controlling you?

If you frequently make mistakes or find your keyboard a bit uncomfortable, it’s not hard to correct these problems. Here are some tips on how to quickly and easily change your keyboard settings and comfort options to best suit you. 

1. Get to Know Your Keyboard
Even if you’ve been using a computer for a long time, there may be features you don’t know about. Take a moment to get to know your keyboard, so you can be more efficient when working.

2. Change Your Settings
Once you’re familiar with your keyboard, there are a few settings you can change to help you work more smoothly. Such as:

•How long to press a key before the keyboard character repeats.
•The speed at which keyboard characters repeat, which helps you to avoid typing errors.
•The rate at which the mouse pointer blinks, which can help its visibility.

3. Take Shortcuts
Even if you’re a whiz with the mouse for the Windows Operating System, keyboard shortcuts are typically a more efficient way to work.

They’re called shortcuts because they reduce multiple clicks into one quick press of keys, like hitting a chord on a piano.

Getting to know a few shortcuts for the things you do all the time, like saving or closing files, can make using your PC much easier and faster.

Here are just a few popular keyboard shortcuts:

Press this To do this
Windows Logo Key Open the Start Menu
F11 or Windows Logo Key + Up Arrow Maximize the Window
Windows Logo Key + Tab See a Task View
Window Logo Key + L Lock Your PC
ALT+TAB Switch Between Open Programs or Windows
CTRL+S Save the Current File or Document (works in most programs)
CTRL+C Copy the Selected Item
CTRL+X Cut the Selected Item
CTRL+V Paste the Selected Item
CTRL+Z Undo an Action
Application key Open a Menu of Commands Related to a Selection in a Program. Equivalent to Right-clicking the Selection.

For more, see the detailed list of keyboard shortcuts for Windows.

4. Make it Easier to Press Multiple Keys
Do you find it difficult to press multiple keys at once? For example, if pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL is an acrobatic feat, you can set up Sticky Keys. Sticky Keys allow you to hit one key at a time in a keyboard shortcut. You can even set it to make a noise, so you know it’s working.

5. Find a Comfortable Keyboard
It might be time for you to evaluate the ergonomics of your desktop. There are several ergonomic keyboards to ensure you’re comfortable when you’re working on your computer. Having the right keyboard can really make a difference!

Additional Tips for Using Your Keyboard Properly
If a new keyboard isn’t in your future, be sure to use your current keyboard properly to avoid soreness or injury to your wrists, hands, and arms. This is particularly important if you use your computer for long periods of time.

•Place your keyboard at elbow level, with your upper arms relaxed at your sides.
• Make sure it’s centered. If your keyboard has a numeric keypad, you can use the space bar as the centering point.
•While typing, use a light touch and keep your wrists straight.
•When you’re not typing, relax your arms and hands.
•Take short breaks every 15 to 20 minutes.
•Type with your hands and wrists floating above the keyboard, so that you can use your whole arm to reach for distant keys instead of stretching your fingers.
•Avoid resting your palms or wrists on any type of surface while typing. If your keyboard has a palm rest, use it only during breaks from typing.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on 8/23/2010 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.