1. An indication that text or another object has been selected with the mouse or keyboard. When highlighting text, the selected text colors reverse, show as blue, have dots around the selection, or have bold lines around the selected text.

Highlighting text allows a user to move, copy, or cut that selected text. Highlighting an object such as an icon also allows it to be cut, copied, deleted, moved, viewed, opened, or otherwise manipulate.

How to highlight text using your mouse

To highlight text using your mouse, position your cursor at the beginning of the text you want to highlight. Press and hold your primary mouse button (commonly the left-button); while holding the button, drag the cursor to the end of the text and let go of the button. Once completed all text from the beginning to the end should be highlighted. Below is an example of highlighted text.

Highlighted text

There is no limit to how much text can be highlighted. You can move to the end of a paragraph to highlight the full paragraph or keep holding the Shift key and move to the end of the document to highlight everything to the end.

How to highlight text using your keyboard

To highlight with your keyboard move to the starting location with the arrow keys, hold down the Shift, and while holding Shift press the arrow key in the direction you want to highlight. Once everything you want is highlighted, let go of the Shift key. If you want to highlight all text press the shortcut key Ctrl + A.

Tip: If you also press the Ctrl key while holding down Shift and the arrow it will highlight one word at a time.

Note: If you are not working with text that can be edited (e.g. this paragraph), you cannot highlight text using this method. However, word processor documents, text documents, and any text field allows you to highlight text using these steps.

Below is a text field that can be used to practice highlighting text using the keyboard.

How to highlight text using your keyboard and mouse

Use the keyboard and mouse in combination by moving the cursor to where you want to begin highlighting, hold down the shift key and then click where you want to finish highlighting.

Tip: You can also practice this technique in the above text box.

How to highlight an icon or another object

To highlight an object such as an icon in Windows, single-click the item. Once clicked the icon or text should change to a different color indicating it has been highlighted.

To highlight multiple icons or other objects drag a box around all files you want to highlight.

Tip: If you want to individually highlight files, hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard and while still holding the Ctrl key single-click each file you want to highlight.

How to highlight multiple e-mails, files, icons, or other objects

Highlighting multiple things at once can be done by using the mouse or mouse and keyboard. Most programs will support the ability to click outside the items you want to be highlighted and while continuing to hold down the mouse draw a box (marquee) around all the items you want to highlight.

If a program does not support selecting items with the mouse, highlight the first object you want highlighted, hold down the Shift, click the last item you want selected and let go of Shift. Using the Shift key will highlight all items in between the first and last item you clicked. For example, clicking "Example in the below select field and then holding down Shift and clicking "Items" highlights all available options.


Tip: If there is something in the highlighted list you do not want to be selected, hold down the Ctrl and click each item you do not want to be highlighted.

Finally, if there are only a few items you want to be highlighted, but they are not together, highlight the first file and then hold down the Ctrl and select each item you want to highlight.

Related pages

2. With Microsoft Word and other text programs text can also be highlighted in a different color for quick reference. For example, "This text should be highlighted in yellow" and is easily seen while skimming this page.

Also see: Mark, Marquee, Reverse video, Shift clicking