I'm a keyboard-shortcut kind of guy (was brought up in the UNIX world originally), and when I have SQL Server questions, I typically start researching topics in SQL Server Books Online (BOL). When I use SQL Server 2000 BOL, I can press Alt+N to go straight to the index, no matter which pane I'm currently using, and start typing a word to search. It irks me a bit that I haven't found the keyboard shortcut to access SQL Server 2005 BOL. Where is it?

David Shank, group manager with the SQL Server User Education team at Microsoft provided the following helpful advice. "Getting information about keyboard shortcuts in the SQL Server Books Online version of Microsoft Document Explorer Help viewer (DExplore) can be a challenge. The shortcut that should work for you is CTRL+ALT+F2, but finding a list of shortcuts is somewhat difficult. Users can find the common DExplore shortcuts in two ways:

  • By selecting Tools, Options, Keyboard node from the DExplore menu bar
  • By selecting Help, Help on Help in the DExplore menu bar.

Some of the topics in Help on Help discuss the DExplore keyboard shortcuts.The topics aren't included in standard searches in BOL, so customers have to know to go to Help on Help.You can customize the default keyboard shortcuts by following the instructions in the Help on Help topic 'How To:Assign Shortcut Keys.'"

Yes, finding information about keyboard shortcuts can be a challenge. Figure 3 shows the window that appears when you select Tools, Options from the DExplore menu bar. Notice that the Shortcuts for selected command: field shows the keyboard shortcut for navigating to the Help Index pane.

SQL Server 2000 BOL uses the more traditional Windows method of underlining the letter in a menu or option to identify a keyboard shortcut. Most people know to press Alt plus the underlined letter to activate a shortcut.

SQL Server 2005's Document Explorer Help viewer is certainly more flexible than the previous method and it offers more shortcuts. Having more shortcuts is great, but you might have trouble remembering them all—the Escher-esque Help on Help is bound to be useful. Help on Help can be very handy because many of its topics aren't referenced in a regular BOL search.