A keyboard is the main way to enter information and control your computer. Depending on the type of device you’re using, the keyboard may be a physical one that is either attached to the computer as with a desktop PC or part of the computer itself as with a laptop. Tablets and smartphones use on-screen keyboards that you tap to enter information.
Whether physical or onscreen, most keyboards follow the QWERTY layout for letters, numbers, punctuation and symbol keys as found on a traditional typewriter. There are also additional keys that perform certain functions. These include:
- Control keys – Used alone or in combination with other keys, these perform certain actions. The most frequently used control keys are CTRL, ALT, ESC and the Windows logo key.
- Function keys – typically found at the top of a physical keyboard, these are labelled as F1, F2, F3, and so on, up to F12. They perform certain tasks, which will differ from program to program.
- Navigation keys – used to move around webpages, documents and when editing text. They include the arrow keys, HOME, END, PAGE UP, PAGE DOWN, DELETE, and INSERT.
- Numeric keypad – some keyboards include a numeric keypad that features number keys grouped together as in standard calculator layout. This makes it easier to enter numbers quickly.
Most applications and operating systems support keyboard shortcuts. This means by pressing a combination of keys on the keyboard you can perform certain action within the program instead of using the program menus. This makes working with computers and programs much easier and faster.
For example, you can copy a file, image or selection of text by highlighting and then selecting Copy from the software’s main menu. However, a faster way is to select the item, the press and hold down the the Ctrl key while you also press C. The item will be copied. If you want move the item somewhere else – say into another folder, click in the new location then, holding down the Ctrl key, press V on the keyboard to paste the item into the new location.