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The keyboard is one of the simplest parts of the computer to understand. This
chapter goes beyond the keyboard basics, however, to show you how to do tasks
such as inserting special characters or typing in another language. This chapter
also looks at how to take care of your keyboard and how to take care of yourself
when using it.
The basic function of almost
every keyboard is compatible with what is called a standard 101- key keyboard.
The standard keyboard is divided into four main groups of keys:
typewriter or alphanumeric keys. These are all of the standard
letters, numbers, Tab, Shift, and the spacebar arranged in the usual
QWERTY order. The Return key is replaced by an Enter key, and some
special computer keys (Alt and Ctrl) are added at the bottom.
function keys. These are usually labeled F1 through F12, and have
different functions in each program you use (some programs may not have
any features that use them).
keys. These are the arrows and other keys that move the cursor or
insertion point on the screen. In addition to the up, down, left, right
keys, some keyboards add diagonal keys. This block of keys also includes
Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys.
keypad. This has two functions. When the Num Lock light is on, this
functions as a 10-key calculator. When the Num Lock light is off, this
functions as another set of cursor movement keys.
Most keyboards carry a variety
of additional keys, including Esc (Escape), Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and
Pause. The uses of these specialty keys varies from system to system. In most
||Esc can be
used to undo commands or actions and in keyboard combinations.
can be used to copy the current screen contents to the Clipboard, from
which you can then Paste the contents into a document for printing (see
the Print Screen entry in "Troubleshooting Common Keyboard
Problems" later in this chapter).
changes the action of the directional arrow cursors.
Check your user manual to find
the details of the specialty keys on your system's keyboard.
Many documents include
characters that don't appear on the keyboard. These special characters include
letters from the Greek alphabet, scientific values, symbols for foreign
currency, and copyright and registration symbols. Some applications have
shortcuts for entering these special characters; Windows 95 provides its own set
of special characters in its Character Map accessory. To use the character map,
follow these steps:
- 1. Check to see what font you are
using in the document to which you want to add the characters.
2. Click the Windows 95 Start button and choose Programs,
Accessories, Character Map.
3. In the Character Map application font list, select the name of the
font you're using in your document.
4. Find the character(s) you want to insert in the program document
and double-click them. This enters the characters in the Characters
to Copy box.
You can select several
characters for insertion in your document--all at the same time! The characters
that you double-click are shown in the Characters to Copy
- 5. When you have the characters you
want to use, click the Copy button.
6. Return to the program that you want to use these in and click the
mouse where you want to insert them.
7. Open the Edit menu in that program and choose Paste. This pastes a
copy of those characters in the document. You can then cut and copy the
individual characters into their appropriate locations in your document.
When you installed Windows, it
came with a default language for the keyboard. If you bought your PC or your
copy of Windows 95 in the U.S., that language is English (United States). If you
need to type in another language, Windows allows you to select another language
for the keyboard. To do this, follow these steps:
- 1. Click the Start menu; choose
Settings, Control Panel.
2. Double-click the Keyboard icon in the Control Panel to open the
Keyboard Properties dialog box.
- 3. Click the Language tab so you see
the dialog box.
4. Click the Add button to open the Add Language dialog box.
5. Select the new language from the drop-down list and click OK.
This dialog box shows what
languages are installed and which one is the default.
Select the language from
this list. Some languages (like English) have several varieties.
- 6. The language is now added. By default,
Windows 95 will still use the original language. The dialog box indicates
that if you want to switch between languages, you press the Left Alt key and
Shift at the same time. By default, Windows will also show you an indicator
of which language is being used in the taskbar. When you are done adding
languages, click OK.
Hold the mouse pointer over
the indicator to see a ToolTip pop up with the full name of the language. Click
the indicator to produce a menu with which you can switch between languages.
You can now type in Windows in
the new language. But, even with multiple language support, you need to keep in
mind a few limitations when selecting a new language for your system:
employ characters not used in English. The font that you use also has to
have all of the available characters for that language.
still has the U.S. English layout and keys. The foreign language feature
is designed with the assumption that users are familiar with the
keyboard for the language they've chosen, and the characters are matched
to that placement on your current keyboard. If you're unfamiliar with
the keyboard for the language you've chosen, you'll just have to type
each key and find out which keys type what characters.
every world language is available. If the language you're seeking
doesn't appear in the list, check with Microsoft Technical Support to
see if they know a Windows 95-compatible source for the language.
Some keyboards have special
keys that perform special tasks in Windows 95. The idea of these keyboards is to
give you access to some common mouse functions on the keyboard so that you don't
have to take your hands off of the keyboard to perform them. These Windows 95
keyboards usually have three special function keys bringing the total number of
keys to 104. These are:
logo keys (there are usually two of these, one each just to the outside
of the Alt keys), both marked by the Windows logo
||The Menu key
(usually located between the Windows logo key and the Ctrl key on the
right side of the spacebar), marked by a stylized drop-down menu and an
The Windows logo key (referred
to as WINDOWS in the following table) performs these actions:
||Opens the Start menu.
||Opens the Run dialog
||Minimizes all windows.
||Undoes Minimize All.
||Opens the Find: All
Files dialog box.
||Opens the Find
Computer dialog box.
||Cycles through current
Properties dialog box.
The menu key has one simple
application. Select any object and press the menu key and the same pop-up menu
that appears when you right-click the mouse on that object appears.
Never spill liquids on your
keyboard. Coffee, soda, and other beverage spills can ruin your keyboard. Liquid
spills on the keyboard have even been known to cause electrical damage to the PC
itself. With that in mind, though you may not stop drinking coffee around your
computer, you should at least get a spill-proof mug or keep the coffee on the
other side of the desk.
Another enemy of keyboards is
static electricity. Static electricity can have the same damaging effect on your
keyboard as does liquid. If your keyboard doesn't respond properly after a
strong static charge, you may just need to turn off the PC and turn it back on
to reset the keyboard. In some cases, however, the static discharge can zap the
keyboard and even parts of the PC. If you shuffle your feet across carpet or
your PC is in a room with dry air, avoid touching the PC or the keyboard until
you have touched something metal to discharge any static. If you don't have a
metal desk or bookcase in your work area, consider buying an anti-static mat and
keeping it where you can touch it before touching the PC.
Dust, dirt, food crumbs, and
hair are other enemies of keyboards. Try to avoid eating over the keyboard and
if your computer is in a dirty, dusty area, keep the keyboard covered when not
Some dirt and dust is
unavoidable. To keep the keyboard working well, you should occasionally clean
it. Any time you clean the keyboard, turn off the PC first; then try any or all
of these three techniques for cleaning the keyboard:
||Turn it upside
down and shake it. This should shake loose some of the crumbs and dirt
that collect between the keys.
||Get a can of
compressed air (available for a few dollars at most PC or electronics
stores) and use it to blow the dirt and dust from between the keys. Be
sure to read the directions on the can before using it. If you hold the
can wrong or use it incorrectly, you may blow cold liquid into the
keyboard instead of air. Generally, you need to hold the can upright and
tip the keyboard up at an angle so the debris will fall out when it is
||If the keys
themselves are dirty or sticky, wet a cleaning rag with some rubbing
alcohol or a little bit of any non-abrasive household cleaner (something
like Windex or Formula 409 is fine) and use it to clean the keys. Don't
spray or pour any cleaner directly on the keyboard, and don't get the
rag dripping wet.
Carpal tunnel syndrome,
tendonitis, and other repetitive stress injuries have become serious health
problems for many computer users. If you will use your computer a lot, you
should know how to avoid these injuries and what the symptoms are.
First, if you feel any pain
after typing or using the PC for extended periods, consult a physician
immediately. Symptoms can include:
||Pain in the
tingling of fingers
To avoid this type of injury,
you need to use the proper posture and position of the body while typing. Always
sit with your back straight. Your shoulders should be relaxed, and your upper
arms should hang almost straight down.
At this point, adjust your
chair and desk so that your forearms are parallel to the floor and your hands
are just above the keyboard. Don't rest your wrists on the desk or the keyboard.
While typing, your knuckles,
wrists, and forearms should form a straight line. While a lot of people have
started using wrist pads to rest their wrists on while typing, you should know
that these generally don't keep your hands and arms aligned correctly.
If you type for hours on end,
you should stop and take a break for just a few seconds every few minutes. This
is even more important for touch typists whose actions are probably more
repetitive than those who "hunt and peck."
Beyond these issues, you may
want to consider investing in a special ergonomic keyboard. The Microsoft
Natural keyboard and several others like it are specially designed to reduce the
risk of this type of injury. These keyboards are generally split down the middle
and angled to allow your arms and wrists to rest in the proper alignment. If you
think you want to try one of these keyboards, find a store with one set up in a
display where you can sit down and try the keyboard. Many computer professionals
who work constantly at their PCs won't use anything but one of these special
The following tips may help you
diagnose (and perhaps resolve) some of the most common keyboard problems.
Type Odd Symbols or Letters
To solve this dilemma, do any
of the following:
section "Using Special Characters and Symbols" earlier in this
chapter, and be sure that the language selected in Windows 95 is English
(United States) or whatever language you want the keyboard to be typing
||Check the font
selection in your application to be sure that you haven't selected a
symbol font like WingDings or Symbol. Try selecting Times or Arial and
see if the problem is fixed.
||If the problem
happens only occasionally and only with a few keys, the keyboard itself
may be bad. Borrow a keyboard from a friend or buy a cheap spare at the
store. Plug it in and see if it works. If you get the same problem, your
problem may be in the PC itself, not the keyboard, and the PC will
require professional service.
Print Screen Key Doesn't
In Windows 95, the Print Screen
key doesn't print to the printer. What it does do is copy the screen to the
Clipboard. To print a screen, press the Print Screen key to copy what you want
to print. Next, click the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories,
Paint. In Paint, click the Edit menu and choose Paste. You now
have a Paint picture of your screen. Click the File menu and choose Print.
You can save the Paint picture if you want to save the picture of your screen.
Keys Type Numbers Instead of Moving the Cursor/Number Keys Move the Cursor
Look for the light that
indicates the Num Lock on your keyboard. When this is lit, the numeric keyboard
is in number mode and is used like a 10-key calculator. When the light is off,
the numeric keypad is used for the arrow key movements indicated on the keys.
Keyboard (or PC) Won't Stop Beeping
There's a key stuck somewhere.
If there is an application running, look to see if the same letter or number is
filling the screen. The key may be jammed, broken, or so dirty underneath that
the contact is jammed shut. Try cleaning the keyboard and restarting the PC.
Get a Message That Says Keyboard error or Keyboard missing When
the PC Boots Up and Then Nothing Happens
Try any of the following:
||Check first to
be sure that the keyboard is plugged in correctly.
and mouse may have similar plugs and connectors. Check for an icon on
the computer case or a description in the computer manual showing which
plug is the correct one for the keyboard, and be sure it is in the right
||Turn off all
power to the PC, waiting a few minutes, and restarting it.
keyboard from a friend or buy a cheap spare at the store. Plug it in and
see if it works. If you get the same error, your problem is in the PC
itself-- not the keyboard-- and the PC will require professional