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The Fastest Ways to Select Text on Your Computer


Highlighted text.

Highlighting text is something you probably do a lot and don’t think much about. There are actually a surprising number of ways to do it, and some are much better than others. We’ll show you the fastest methods.

Dragging your mouse letter by letter to highlight text is the method most people are familiar with, but it’s not the best. There are several methods that make more sense and will save you time. Let’s begin.

Note: The methods below were tested primarily in Windows in a web browser and text editor. Most of these methods work across operating systems and applications, although there are too many variables to promise they’ll work everywhere.

Click at the Start and End with Shift

One of the fastest methods utilizes the mouse and keyboard. First, aim the cursor at the start of the selection and click. Now hold down the Shift key and click the cursor at the end of the selection. The text between the two clicks will be highlighted.

Double-Click to Highlight Word

Here’s a simple trick for highlighting one word. Aim your cursor at the word you’d like to highlight and simply double-click. The entire word will be highlighted.

Double-Click and Drag to Highlight by Word

Let’s bring dragging to the party. Double-click on the first word, but instead of releasing the button on the second click, continue to hold down the button and drag the mouse. This will highlight word by word instead of letter by letter.

Triple-Click to Highlight Sentence/Paragraph

Triple-clicking will highlight even more. Depending on the app you’re using, a triple-click will highlight the full sentence or the full paragraph.

Triple-Click and Drag to Highlight Sentences/Paragraphs

We can add dragging to triple-clicking too. Triple-click on the first sentence or paragraph, then drag the mouse down the page on the third click. You’ll highlight full sentences or paragraphs at a time.

Click in the Left Margin and Drag Down

To select multiple lines of text at a time, click in the left margin next to the first line you want to highlight and drag the mouse down the page.

Shift + Ctrl and Arrow Keys

We can highlight word by word with a keyboard too. Aim the cursor at the starting point or double-click the first word, then hold Shift + Ctrl and press the Left or Right arrow keys. Each press will highlight the next or previous word.

Ctrl + A to Select All Text

Last, but certainly not least, is a keyboard shortcut everyone should know. If you want to select all the text on a page or document, simply press Ctrl + A. Everything on the page or the active text box will be highlighted.


As you can see, there’s a quick method for highlighting text in nearly any way you could want. Try to work these into your routine, and you’ll save time and highlight text more accurately. It’s okay to admit when there’s a better way to do something.

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