How to select text using keyboard shortcuts

Written by simon foden Google
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How to select text using keyboard shortcuts
Most text selection shortcuts are modified navigation shortcuts. (Getty Thinkstock)

Text selection is a crucial part of creating and editing a document. But sometimes, grabbing that mouse can slow down your work low. Fortunately, word processing software like Google Docs and Microsoft Word permit keyboard shortcuts. Even more fortunately, these are typically universal across programmes and operating systems and many of them are very similar to the navigational shortcuts you already know. For some commands, Mac users will need to replace the “Ctrl” button for “Cmnd.”

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Press “Ctrl” and “A” to select all text in a document. If using a Mac, hit “Cmnd” and “A.” The next command you execute will apply to all of the text in the document.

  2. 2

    Press the "Shift" key and then use the left or right arrows. This moves the cursor as normal, but as it moves it highlights the text as it moves past it. This is a useful method if you want to highlight a couple of words.

  3. 3

    Press "Shift" and “End” to select the text between your cursor and and the end of the line. Mac users need to hit "Shift," "Cmnd" and the right arrow to execute the same function. Once this chunk of text is selected, you can select additional lines by hitting the down arrow. To trim or extend the selection, use the left and right arrows.

  4. 4

    Press "Shift" and “Home” or "Shift," "Cmnd" and left arrow if using a Mac, to select the cursor and the start of the line. Trim and extend using left and right arrows.

  5. 5

    Press “Shift” and the down arrow to select the text between the cursor and the end of the line, plus the line below. Each time you hit the down arrow, you select a new line. Doing the same, but with the up arrow lets you select text positioned between the cursor and the start of the line plus the lines above. Use the left and right arrows to trim or extend the text within the line. If your cursor is inside a line and you want to select the entirety of that line, hit “Home” or “Cmnd” and left arrow to quickly move the cursor to the start.

  6. 6

    Hit “Shift” and “Page Up” to select all text between the cursor and the page above. Shift and “Page Down” selects all text between cursor and the bottom of the page. Mac users need to hit “Fn,” "Shift" and the up or down arrow key to execute the same commands.

Tips and warnings

  • Many of these commands enable you to select text on web pages, as well as word processing documents.
  • If you make an error, hit "Ctrl" and "Z," or "Cmnd" and "Z" if using a Mac.

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