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As you gain experience in Sketchpad, you’ll naturally seek ways to maximize your efficiency and productivity within the software environment. There are many keyboard techniques that will help you use Sketchpad productively.

You can use keyboard shortcuts for various menu commands.

You can use the Esc key  to “escape” from your current activity.

You can use the Shift key to modify the behavior of various tools, commands, and other actions.

You can enter mathematical expressions in place of numbers in various dialog boxes.

You can insert subscripts, symbols, Greek letters, and Unicode into the labels of objects, by using support built into Sketchpad or using Unicode input methods available from your operating system.

You can use several other special keys to affect Sketchpad's operation.

You can use several caption-editing keys when you're editing a caption.

Menu Command Shortcuts

Many menu commands have shortcut keys, allowing you to access the menu command directly from the keyboard whenever that command is available. Most of these shortcuts require a modifier key (such as Alt or Ctrl on Windows or on Mac) to be held down while you type the command’s shortcut key. Shortcut keys (and their modifiers) are listed in the menu, directly across from the name of each command that can be accessed by a keyboard shortcut.

For example, in the Windows File menu the Save command lists Ctrl+S as its keyboard shortcut. In the Macintosh File menu it lists S as its keyboard shortcut. Thus, you can save the active document by typing the S key while holding down the Ctrl modifier key (in Windows) or the modifier key (on Macintosh).

The Esc Key

The Esc key provides a powerful general-purpose means to “escape” from your current activity. Depending on the activity you’re presently engaged in, Sketchpad’s response to the Esc key varies, but in general, Esc reverts Sketchpad to a less “special” state. Each press of the Esc key performs one of the following actions:

If a caption is being edited, Esc stops editing the caption.

If a script view is being applied step-by-step, Esc stops the execution without completing the remaining steps.

If the Arrow tool is not active, Esc activates it.

If any object is selected, Esc deselects all objects.

If any object is animating, Esc stops all animations.

If any traces are visible, Esc erases all traces.

If information balloons are showing, Esc hides them.

If you're creating a drawing with the Marker tool, Esc finishes the current drawing and allows you to start a new one.

Press Esc repeatedly to revert your document to a “normal” state, with no objects animating, no traces visible, no objects selected, and the Arrow tool active.

The Shift Key

You can use the Shift key to align text objects, to change the behavior of the active tool, to switch from one tool to another, and to modify various commands:

Shift+Enter with selected text objects or action buttons aligns the selected objects below the first selected object. If the objects are already aligned, Shift + Enter increases the vertical spacing between objects.

Shift+Drag with the Arrow tool in empty space begins a selection rectangle to add objects to those already selected.

Shift+double-click with  the Arrow tool on a table removes the most recently added row from the table.

Shift while resizing a picture maintains the picture's aspect ratio

Shift+Drag with the Translate Arrow tool on a control point of a straight object constrains the object's direction to multiples of 15° (0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°, and so forth).

Shift+Construct with the Point, Compass, Straightedge, or Polygon tool to construct and select a new object while maintaining previous selections. (For instance, you can hold Shift while clicking the Point tool three times to construct three points and leave all three selected.)

Shift+Drag with a Straightedge tool similarly constrains the straight object's direction to multiples of 15°.

Shift while drawing with the Marker tool turns the tool into an eraser to erase ink from the current drawing.

Shift+Click an object with the Information tool shows a new information balloon while keeping existing information balloons visible.Shift+ or Shift+↓ changes the active tool to the next higher or lower tool in the Toolbox.

Shift+  or Shift+ changes the active tool to the next or previous tool of the same type when the active tool is a Selection Arrow tool, a Straightedge tool, or a Polygon tool.

Shift+Tab adds to the selected objects another object similar to the already-selected object(s).

Shift when changing the appearance of an object or text preserves the default settings for point style, line style, color, font, text style, and size.

Shift changes several menu commands:

Changes File | Save As to Save As HTML.

Changes Edit | Undo to Undo All.

Changes Edit | Redo to Redo All.

Changes Edit | Preferences to Advanced Preferences.

Changes Transform | Iterate to Iterate to Depth.

Changes Graph | Show/Hide Grid to Show/Hide Coordinate System.

Changes Edit | Split/Merge to Merge Text To Point.

Changes Display | Label Objects to Reset Next Labels (provided no objects are selected).

Shows the Script View at the same time as you choose a custom tool.

Changes Choose Tool Folder to Forget Tool Folder in the Custom Tools menu.

Expressions in Dialog Boxes

Many of Sketchpad’s dialog boxes permit or require you to enter various numeric quantities. Wherever you’re required to enter a number, you can substitute an arithmetical expression — such as (1/3) or 2π — instead. Type expressions combining numbers, parentheses, addition (+), subtraction (), multiplication (*), division (/), and exponentiation (^). Sketchpad evaluates your expression and uses the resulting value for the dialog box quantity.

To enter π  in a dialog box, type the letter p.