The Escape Key: Getting Out of Stuff

2 minute read

"Yeah, if you press Escape enough times, you'll escape from your problems." (*)

Nice try. But even though it's not really a solution to everything, you can still get out of quite a few things using your Escape key.
  • If you open a dialog box you don't want, just press Escape to close it. For instance, if you choose File --> Open in Microsoft Word and realize you don't want to open a file after all, you can just press Escape to close the window instead of looking around for the cancel button.
  • If you start dragging a file or text from one place to another and realize you don't want to move it after all, or you started moving it to the wrong place, pressing Escape will release whatever you're dragging and put it back to its original location.
  • If a website is hung up or you accidentally browsed to it and don't want to wait for it to load, you can press Escape to stop it from loading. (You can follow up with F5 to reload it if appropriate, as discussed in this tip.)
  • If you open a menu (or right-click) and you don't want it, Escape will close all the menus quickly.
  • If you're in a PowerPoint presentation and want to stop it before the end, pressing Escape will end the show.
There are more uses that I didn't mention--you can use it almost any time you want to cancel an action you're in the middle of taking. If you're not sure if Escape would work, feel free to try it--pressing Escape will never cause anything particularly untoward to happen (unless you just spent five hours filling out a dialog box, in which case you have other problems).


(*) I said this a few months back when someone was in a sticky situation in a computer game and another player had told him to press Escape to clear a message box. Nice try!


Soren "scorchgeek" Bjornstad


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Copyright 2011 Soren Bjornstad.
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