How to Highlight Text Without the Mouse

Keyboard Shortcuts

1. Shift + Arrows:

  • Put your cursor at the beginning of where you want to start highlighting.
  • Hold down the Shift key.
  • Use the arrow keys to extend the selection. Right arrow highlights forward, left arrow highlights backward.

2. Ctrl + Shift + Arrows (Word by Word):

  • Like the above, but instead of highlighting character by character, this jumps by whole words, facilitating quicker selections.

3. Home/End with Shift (Line Selection):

  • Start your cursor at the beginning of the line.
  • Hold down Shift.
  • Press End to highlight the entire line to the right, or Home to highlight the line to the left.

Operating System Specific

Windows Caret Browsing:

  • Press F7 on your keyboard. You might need the Fn Key on laptops.
  • You’ll get a confirmation asking to turn on Caret Browsing.
  • Use arrow keys, Home/End, and Shift combinations to navigate and highlight text.
  • Press F7 again to turn Caret Browsing off.

macOS VoiceOver:

  • Enable VoiceOver: Command + F5
  • Use VO + arrow keys to navigate.
  • Use VO + Shift + arrow keys to select text.

Accessibility in Applications

Many applications (web browsers, word processors) have built in features designed for keyboard only navigation and control. These sometimes include special text selection modes which can be toggled with keyboard shortcuts.

Important Things

Specific Applications: The precise shortcuts will vary slightly in different word processors, browsers and text editors.

Practice: Mastering keyboard selection takes a bit of practice but it helps you become incredibly efficient.

Accessibility Features: Caret Browsing or VoiceOver are powerful assistive technologies that have a wider range of uses beyond text selection.

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