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2,001 Tips

Keyboard Booster

Perk up your keyboard's responsiveness when running multiple applications by editing the [386Enh] section of your SYSTEM.INI file. Look for a line that says KeyBoostTime= and change the setting to .005 (the default is .001). If this line does not exist, add it. This setting controls the amount of time allocated to an application when it receives a keystroke. The higher the number, the higher the priority given to the keystrokes going into your current application.

Type Another Tongue

If you often habla Espanol or parle Francais, use Control Panel to set up your keyboard to work with other languages. In Win95, click on Keyboard, then Language/Add Language. In Win 3.x, click on International. You may have to use the setup diskette to load the new .DLL if you haven't done it in the past. If a driver is already present, indicate whether you want to use the resident file or load a new one.

Chairman of the Keyboard

Adjust the height of your chair to correspond with the height of your keyboard. You should be able to hold your wrists parallel with the keyboard at seated elbow height. Your arms should come down straight from your shoulders with your fingers on the "home" row of keys and your forearms parallel to the floor.

Watch Your Wrists

Keep your wrists neutral, at the same level as your forearms, without bending them in any way while typing. Keep their keyboard position as close as possible to the way you keep them when your arms rest comfortably at your sides. Minimizing wrist movement reduces stress to the nerves, blood vessels and tendons, thus lowering your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Only use wrist rests for support between typing and only if you find them comfortable. They can cause you to bend your wrists if used while typing.

Hold Your Head High

To reduce neck strain while improving the flow of blood to the upper body, always keep your head above your shoulders. Use a chair that supports the natural curve of your lower back, while keeping your back upright against the chair to support your upper body's weight. If necessary, use a pillow or a rolled towel for extra back support.

Get in Position

To avoid repetitive motion disorders, position your keyboard so that it is at wrist level, about 26.5 inches high (rather than at the 29-inch desktop height). Often you can add a keyboard shelf to your desk to hold the keyboard at this height.

The Right Touch

Don't use too much force when you're typing, and use a keyboard that can be operated with a light touch. You should maintain moderate to light pressure on the keys, as the stress caused by placing too much pressure plays an important part in cumulative trauma disorders. Keys should be spaced comfortably and slightly concave to keep fingers from slipping.

Mousy Keys

Win95 comes with a few options designed to make it more accessible to physically limited users. One of these options is MouseKeys, which lets you move your mouse pointer with the numeric keypad on your keyboard. This is useful if you're recovering from a repetitive strain injury caused by overly vigorous use of your mouse, or you want to use a notebook without a mouse. Turn on MouseKeys by double-clicking on the Accessibility Options icon in the Control Panel; then click on the Mouse tab and select Use MouseKeys.

Behavior Modification

Edit your WIN.INI file to specify how your keyboard acts. The KeyboardDelay= line specifies the length of time you have to press a key before the character is repeated. The default is 2 (milliseconds). Reducing this value makes creating repeat characters easier; increasing it makes it harder. Editing the KeyboardSpeed= line lets you determine how fast the characters repeat after the initial repeat. The default, 31, is as high as you can go. You can slow the repetition speed by reducing the number. You may also change these parameters through the Keyboard section of the Control Panel.

Let Your Fingers Do the Surfing

Most people mouse their way through the Web, but keyboard surfing is faster. In Navigator 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0, the Tab key takes you from link to link (even within image maps); pressing Enter is like clicking on the link. Ctrl+D puts the current page in Bookmarks or Favorites.

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