[techtalk] Tech-Talk: WINDOWS – Keyboard Shortcut - Alt + E + R

Darci Hanning darci.hanning at state.or.us
Tue Dec 26 11:50:03 PST 2017


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 This Week's Tech-Talk: Windows

1. VIDEO ...  Keyboard Shortcut - Alt + E + R
2. ARTICLE ...  Keyboard Shortcut - Alt + E + R
3. COMMUNICATING ... "What is the worst thing..."

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WINDOWS - Keyboard Shortcut - Alt + E + R

I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of moving the mouse up and down, back and forth, over and over again to repeat the same set of functions multiple times.

That's when "shortcuts" come into play. Basically, there are two types:

1.  Keyboard - a combination of keystrokes. E.g. Ctrl + C = copy; Ctrl + V = paste. Most shortcuts are keyboard related.
2.   Feature (or function) -- a button or menu command. E.g. Format Painter. This shortcut takes out a lot of strokes.

All shortcuts reduce the number of times you have to move your mouse and click.

The keyboard combo we're featuring today is little known, yet so helpful. It's not very glamorous, but when you try it a couple of times, we think you're going to love it.

You can use it for such things as:

1.  Repeating complicated commands
2.  Formatting text faster (much like Format Painter, but different)
3.  Inserting new blank slides in a PowerPoint presentation rapidly
4.  Widening or narrowing white space quickly
5.  Changing content format in an entire Excel column with three keystrokes

The keyboard shortcut is called Alt+E+R.  Think of it as an “Alternate way to Edit, Repeatedly”.

[Alt + E+R]

This shortcut allows you to make a series of multiple formatting changes at once … over and over again, with just three clicks on keys.

This keystroke series remembers the sequence of several formatting changes that were just done. If you’ve completed all the mouse moves once, then you can follow it with this shortcut (Alt + E, then R). You do this over and over again, for as many times as you need.

Let me show you what I mean.

Alt + E + R Examples

SITUATION #1- Repeating Complicated Commands

I wanted to create a document of "fake text" to show you how to format it with this shortcut, and ended up using the keyboard strokes (Alt+E+R) to instantly insert pretend Latin as a placeholder. (See Tech-Talk. Search for "fake text".)

1st Series of Actions:
I typed "=lorem(3)" and hit Enter. Three paragraphs of fake text appeared.


Keyboard Shortcut: I typed Alt+E+R two more times and instantly ended up with nine paragraphs of fake text.

SITUATION #2 - Formatting Text Faster

I want to reformat all the subheads of a report to be larger, colored, and in small caps. NOTE: All the changes have to be within the same function. In this case it was all in the FONT block.

1st Series of Actions:

·     Highlight the subhead
·     Move mouse to the Font block
·     Move mouse to go from size 11 to 14
·     Move the mouse to change the color from black to red
·     Move the mouse to check “small caps”

Keyboard Shortcut:

·     Highlight next subhead (I used the shortcut: triple-click anywhere on the line)
·     Pressed Alt+E+R
·     Next subhead: Alt+E+R
·     Next subhead: Alt+E+R

Before and After Images:

[shortcut example]

NOTE: Yes, in this case you could use Format Painter to get the same effect as this keyboard shortcut. But once you get the feel of the Al+E+R under your belt, you'll instinctively know when it’s more convenient to use each.

TIP: If you aren’t familiar with Format Painter, you’re missing a huge opportunity for productivity. You can see the Tech-Talk articles on it in our online library.

SITUATION #3 - Inserting Blank Slides in a Presentation

We often snag an image (a screen capture) to keep a visual record of it. For instance, if we want an image of each step of an online process, we snag it and paste it into a PowerPoint file, with one slide for each step. In our example I want 15 blank slides.

[PowerPoint example]

1st Series of Actions:
In a new blank presentation…

·     Move the mouse up to “New Slide” and click
·     Move the mouse down to “Blank Slide” and click
·     Move the mouse up to “New Slide” and click
·     Move the mouse down to “Blank Slide” and click
·     And so on, 15 times in total

Keyboard Shortcut:
·     After the first slide…
·     Alt+E+R
·     Alt+E+R
·     Alt+E+R
·     Alt+E+R
·     Alt+E+R, etc.

The bottom line is, that you first do the sequence of changes once, then just hold the Alt key and press the letter E. Then release both and press the R key. Presto, the changes are applied!

If you practice this shortcut a few times when you have multiple moves to get one thing done, it not only becomes instinct – but a great time saver!


Communicating: What is the "worst"...
Ask about the most serious thing

You're being asked to take on a project at work. You're discussing it with your manager. You're excited and are glad to have the challenge.

So, what types of things might you inquire about to clarify the expectations?

Sure you could ask, "Ultimately, what would you like to have happen? A sold-out event? A high customer satisfaction score?" It's always good to hear what others have in mind as the measurement of success.

But, here's another question that you could ask to get some unexpected insight. "What is the worst thing that could happen in this project?"

Folks don't usually ask the flip side of the success question. When you do, you'll usually get an answer that is quite revealing ... and useful.


I was beginning a new venture and asked a more experienced colleague in this field a question he didn't expect. "What is one reason why people don't succeed in this area? ... What's the worst thing they can do?"

His answer was quite firm and instant. In fact, he gave me two things that affected people's results.

·     "They give up too soon, before they've tried enough possibilities."
·     "They look at products to offer, rather than find and feed a passion."

This was great insight because I flipped his answers to identify my solution to success: following the process without giving up and staying focused on the market's passion, not the product.

Where Else Can You Use This Technique?

You can ask about the worst thing that can happen in all kinds of situations, such as:

·     Interviewing someone for a new position. "What might be the worst aspect of the job if you were to get it?"

·     Talking with a field representative. "What is the worst thing a customer can tell you?"

·     Getting instructions from an expert you've asked to help you with a project. "What is the worst thing people do when writing a press release?"


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Darci Hanning, MLIS
Technology Development Consultant
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