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MS Office: Close, Move and Re-size Task Panes Using Your Keyboard

Here’s a cool set of keyboard commands I stumbled upon today that have to do with managing those task panes that seem to pop up in our daily work while using MS Office.


If you’ve ever tried to move, close or re-size a task pane, then you’ve definitely picked your hands up off the keyboard and headed for the mouse. Anyone who has an aversion to the mouse dislikes these situations and looks for ways to accomplish the task without it.

Here’s how you can manage those task panes without your mouse… to be honest, this is one that I never even thought of when it came to keyboard shortcuts, but there is one and it works like a charm – so let’s get to it.

First, to use these shortcuts on a task pane you’ll need to give it the focus of the program. Use the F6 key to rotate through the document, ribbon, etc… until you get to the task pane. (The title bar will change colors when it’s selected.)

Now use the Ctrl + Spacebar keys to open the task pane menu.


As you can see, we’ve got limited choices here, but they’re all good ones.

Use your arrow keys to select either Move, Size or Close.

Hit the Enter key once you’ve made your selection.

Obviously if you chose Close, then Poof! it’s gone.

As for the other two…

Once the Enter key was used you either got the 4-way or 2-way arrow – depending upon your choice.

If you’re moving the task pane, then you have the 4-way arrow and can now use the up, down, left, right arrow keys to move your pane anywhere you choose. To re-dock the task pane, simply keep moving it to the side where it should be docked… even if it looks like it’s moving right off the screen… keep moving it in that same direction until the program picks up on your intention and docks it for you.

A 2-way arrow is displayed when re-sizing is the goal. Use the left or right arrow keys to either increase or decrease the width of the task pane.

When all adjustments are done with the arrow keys hit Enter again.


Task pane adjustments without the hand adjustments that would be necessary if you were going to use the mouse.

~ April