There are several ways to select, copy, and paste data in Windows programs.

Choosing the best method for each situation can speed up your workflow.

Read: Use shortcuts to save time and work

In some situations, you don’t have a choice.

Read: Save time when typing symbols

Some programs will allow you to copy data from fields using the right-click>copy method, but not text outside fields.

In this case Ctrl + c will usually work. The text can be selected by holding down the mouse button while dragging across the text.

This also works for copying text from websites that have the right-click function disabled.

To select several words or lines of text you can drag the mouse across all the text. This becomes frustrating when the highlighting scrolls fast and goes too far, then scrolls too far in the other direction when you try to reverse.

In word-processing programs, place the cursor at the beginning of text, scroll, and click the end of the text while holding down the shift key.

This method can also work in websites and programs with text outside fields, with one slight difference. Since you’re not able to put the cursor at the beginning of the text, simply drag your mouse across the first character to highlight it, hold down the shift key, then click the end of the text.

The fastest way to select text (if it’s one word or string) is to double click it. Sometimes separators like spaces, hyphens, and the @ sign in email addresses will cause partial text selection.

Rather than revert back to dragging the mouse across the string, click anywhere inside the field and press Ctrl + a (for select all).

Just as Ctrl + c can work for copying when right-click is not available, Ctrl + v can work for pasting. The letters a, c, and v are close to each other on the keyboard. You can jump from field to field and window to window by clicking them with your right hand.

At the same time you can select, copy, and paste by holding down the Ctrl key with the little finger of your left hand and tapping the appropriate letter with your index finger.

For select all, copy, then paste (Ctrl + a or double-click, Ctrl + c, Ctrl + v) you don’t have to release the Ctrl key between the steps. If you start using this method you’ll be able to do it without even thinking after a short time.

For expert typists who think they can type faster than these methods, the increased speed in your workflow comes from not having to verify important data you’ve just typed in order to keep it accurate.

David Dagley, CFP®, is a software developer and Adobe javascript expert, with 15 years of financial planning experience. He is the owner and president of Forms Doctor Inc., a company specializing in workflow automation solutions and financial planning calculators for investment dealers, financial advisors, and investment firms.
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