Alt

Updated: 11/06/2021 by Computer Hope

Alt may refer to any of the following:

Alt key

1. Short for alternate, Alt is a modifier key on both sides of the spacebar key on IBM compatible computer keyboards. The picture shows an example of the Alt key.

Note

The Alt key should not be confused with the Altmode key that is used with some TeleType and ASCII terminals. The Altmode key does not function the same as the Alt key.

Where is the Alt key on the keyboard?

The following image of a keyboard shows the location of the Alt keys, which are highlighted in blue.

Alt keys

Note

Apple computer keyboards use the option key in place of the Alt key.

Alt keyboard shortcuts and what can the Alt key do?

Alt is most often used to in a key combination to perform certain actions such as accessing the options in the file menu or Ribbon. Refer to the example below:

Ctrl+Alt+Del

The combination above means to press and hold the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keys all at the same time. This action opens the Windows Task Manager window or the lock menu to get access to the Task Manager.

Below are some other commonly used Alt shortcut key combinations on a computers in alphabetical order. Clicking any of the shortcut links open a page for that shortcut with all known programs associated with that shortcut key.

Tip

The Alt key is not used as often as the Ctrl key with keyboard shortcuts. If you're not sure about using Alt or Ctrl in a shortcut, start with Ctrl.

Alt Pressing the Alt key alone focuses the computer on the file menu (if available) or show keyboard shortcuts in Office programs with the Ribbon. Once selected, you can use the arrow keys to move between the file menu options.
Alt+A Open the Data tab in Excel.
Alt+B Open the bookmarks file menu option in Firefox.
Alt+C View the favorites in Internet Explorer.
Alt+D Select the URL in the address bar in Internet browsers.
Alt+Down Arrow Decrease sound volume in Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow view.
View the menu for the currently selected button in Microsoft Excel.
Pan down in Paint 3D.
Alt+E Open the Edit file menu option for programs supporting a file menu.
Alt+End Move to the last cell of a column in a Microsoft Word table.
Alt+Enter Create a new line in a Microsoft Excel cell.
Alt+Esc Switch between windows in the order that they were first opened in Microsoft Windows.
Alt+F Pressing these two keys opens the file menu in an open program.
Alt+F4 These keys close the open program. To close an open window or tab within a program press Ctrl+F4.
Alt+G Access the Design tab in the Microsoft PowerPoint Ribbon.
Alt+H Open the Help file menu or the Home tab in Microsoft programs with the Ribbon.
Alt+Home Open the homepage in the active tab.
Alt+I Open the Insert file menu.
Alt+Ins Add a workspace in Xfce.
Alt+J Adjust the justification of text in a file.
Alt+K Open the Transistions tab in the Ribbon.
Alt+L Open the Developer tab in the Ribbon.
Alt+Left Arrow Go to the previously-viewed web page in most Internet browsers.
Go to the previously-viewed folder in File Explorer.
Alt+M Open the Formulas tab in the Ribbon.
Alt+N Open the Insert option in a file menu or the Ribbon.
Alt+O Open the Format file menu.
Alt+P Open the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
Alt+Q Open the "Tell me" box in recent versions of Office products.
Alt+R Open the Review tab in the Office programs Ribbon.
Alt+Right Arrow Go to the web page visited after the web page you are currently viewing in most Internet browsers. (Only works if you went back to the current web page after viewing another web page.)
Alt+S Open the slide show settings in PowerPoint.
Alt+Space Open the window menu of the program currently open in Microsoft Windows.
Alt+T Open the Tools in the file menu.
Alt+Tab These keys switch between open programs from left-to-right. Pressing Alt+Shift+Tab moves in the opposite direction, from right to left.
Alt+U Change text to uppercase.
Alt+Up Arrow Increase sound volume in Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow view.
View the folder where the currently-selected folder is located in File Explorer.
Pan up in Paint 3D.
Alt+V Open the View file menu.
Alt+W Open the View tab in the Office programs with the Ribbon.
Alt+X Display the Unicode character code of a character.
Alt+Y Open the Database Tools tab in Microsoft Access.
Alt+Z Access the GeForce Experience in-game overlay.
Tip

See our shortcut key list to view all the keyboard shortcuts.

Using the Alt key to create special characters (Alt codes)

With Windows computers, the Alt key can also be used with the number keys on the numeric keypad to create special characters (Alt codes) such as accented letters. For example, when using code page 437, pressing Alt+160 creates an "a" with an accent (á) in all programs.

Note

When using Alt codes, your Num Lock must be enabled, and you must be using the numbers on the numeric keypad.

Where is the Alt key on my smartphone or tablet touch screen?

Android and Apple phones, tablets, and other mobile devices with touch screens don't have an Alt key or other modifier keys, except the Shift key.

Note

With a computer on-screen keyboard, the Alt key is on both sides of the spacebar.

2. Alt may also be used to describe the alternate text used to describe an image in HTML. For example, with the below img tag the alt attribute is describing that the picture is the Computer Hope logo. If someone was reading the page but couldn't see the images (e.g., blind visitor) they could understand what the picture is showing.

<img src="https://www.computerhope.com/cdn/computer-hope.jpg" alt="Computer Hope logo"/>
Tip

The alt attribute should not be confused with the title attribute, which shows text when hovering over an image. See our img tag page for further information about each of these attributes.

ASCII, Computer abbreviations, Ctrl, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Keyboard terms, M, Meta key, Modifier key, Option key