If Only I had Known This Before
This information is all over the internet but I am repeating it here because much of it is often overlooked and if this is where you came across it and it helps you then that’s great.
The more geeky amongst you will probably already know many of these Windows shortcuts, also known as Hot Keys. All the same, I often come across people who don’t know about many of the following keyboard shortcuts for Windows even though most of them have been around for many years.
I suggest that you take time to learn these, print them out, I guarantee that they will make your life easier. Many of them work nearly everywhere; in Word, Web browsers, Windows explorer online software, offline software, the list goes on.
Maybe you will learn some new shortcuts or remind yourself of those you have forgotten. This is not a full list, I have listed the ones that I think are the most useful. There is a reference to a full list near the bottom of this post.
I will endeavour to clarify some of them where I think it’s not clear what they do. I am using the shortcut keys for Windows 7 so examples below may vary between different versions of Windows. Some of them will work on Apple computers but the names of the keys may vary.
Windows Main Shortcuts
F1 – The help function. It should work in context so if you are in Word you will get the help for Word, if in a web browser then you will get the help for that. It may bring up a help dialogue or it may bring up a help page in a web browser.
F5 – Refreshes the current window. This works in context, if you are focused on the desktop then that will be refreshed, if you are focused on a web browser than that will get refreshed etc.
ALT+TAB – Switch between open programs. This will give you a list of thumbnails of running programs that you can tab between as long as you continue to hold down the ALT key. When you let go the highlighted Window thumbnail will become the current program.
If you just press the Windows key on its own it will bring up the Start menu. It’s the same as clicking the start menu button usually located at the bottom left on the task bar.
Windows key+TAB – This does the same as the ALT+TAB but it looks like this:
Windows key+E – This starts up a new Windows Explorer, very useful. That’s the window you use to organise your files and folders
Windows key+F – Brings up a search dialogue. This is the same as the search in the top right of a Windows Explorer window. More useful in earlier versions of Windows.
Windows key+L – This will lock your computer. If you have a user password set then you will have to input the password again to access the computer. Very useful if you work in a public space and need security or just want to stop people snooping when you are away from the computer.
Windows Logo+R – This will bring up the run box. It’s the same as clicking “Start” and then “Run” (if you have this enabled as a “Start” menu item).
Windows key+M – Minimize all open Windows down to the task bar.
SHIFT+Windows key+M – Undo minimize all.
ALT+double click / ALT+ENTER – Opens the properties for the selected object. This is a context command but particularly useful in Windows Explorer.
CTRL+SHIFT+ESC – Opens Windows Task Manager. Many people do not use the task manager but it is a very useful feature often accessed by right clicking in the task bar and choosing “Start task manager”.
I recommend you see this article entitled “How to use the Windows Task Manager” as this Windows utility can be very useful for troubleshooting your computer or to get you out trouble when a program hangs.
ALT+underlined letter in menu – On some programs pressing the ALT key will bring up letters and numbers as in the example below. In this example, if you press the “F” key the “File menu” will be presented along with further letters if more options are presented. On some versions of Windows or perhaps software certain letters on the various options will be underlined instead.
All these are context keys and with few exceptions will work in any program or online application that has an editable space.
SHIFT+ENTER – This is a very useful but possibly less known key combination. Normally when you want to drop down a line you hit the “Enter” key. In some editing spaces, pressing the Enter key starts a new paragraph which may not be what you want. If you use the SHIFT+ENTER combination then the cursor will just drop down to the next line without leaving a larger spaced line break suitable for a new paragraph.
The difference is this:
This is a drop down to a
This is a drop down to a
CTRL+LEFT/RIGHT ARROW – Advance the cursor to the next or previous word.
SHIFT+LEFT/RIGHT ARROW – Highlight from right to left or from left to right.
CTRL+A – Highlight all. Very much a context function. If you are on a page of text this shortcut will highlight all the text including pictures or anything else on the page. You can them cut, copy, replace or delete as appropriate. If you using Windows Explorer then all the files or folders in directory will be highlighted ready to cut, copy, or delete.
For the next 2 shortcuts and the CTRL+Z & CTRL+Y shortcuts below please see the following video. These commands are better understood if you see them in action.
SHIFT+LEFT CLICK -This will selectively highlight from a source point to a destination point.
CTRL+LEFT click – This will selectively highlight text or files and folders by adding clicked items to a list.
When using editing commands to cut or copy text, images, files etc. the last thing that was cut or copied is stored in an area managed by Windows, ready to paste elsewhere. In some versions of Windows you could manage the clipboard for example, Windows XP not only allowed you to manage the clipboard but you could store multiple entries. In Windows 7 only the last item cut or copied can be accessed and without third party software you cannot see the clipboard. If you would like to see the clipboard or enhance it you can find plenty of apps to do this, for example “10 best free Windows clipboard replacements“.
CTRL+C – Copy the highlighted text, images, files etc. into the clipboard for reuse.
CTRL+X – Cut the highlighted text, images, files etc. into the clipboard for reuse.
CTRL+V – Paste text, images, files etc from the clipboard to an appropriate destination.
CTRL+Z – Undo the last command.
CTRL+Y – Re-do a command after an undo (Reverts an undo).
CTRL+B – Bold text.
CTRL+U – Underline text.
CTRL+I – Italicize text.
Screen Capture Shortcuts
Print Screen -This will capture an image of the entire screen and place the image of it in the clipboard for reuse.
Alt+Print Screen – This will capture an image of the current Window and place the image of it in the clipboard for reuse.
A good explanation of the keyboard and with much duplicated content can be found at “Standard Windows Keyboard Layout – Windows Natural Keyboard“.
The Microsoft complete list “Keyboard shortcuts for Windows“.
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