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April 27, 2010 / Upnishad

Incredible list of keyboard shortcuts for Windows users

Keyboard shortcuts are by far and away the best way to a) speed up your work flow and b) prevent RSI. The single worst thing you can do, as far as your wrist and elbow is concerned, is move your hand to the mouse. The best thing you can do is read this list of shortcuts and be amazed at what you can do with just a couple of keystrokes.

First, the shortcuts that are so fundamental to computer use that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. Almost all of these shortcuts should be performed with the LEFT hand, with your thumb on Alt or Ctrl.

  • Ctrl+T — opens a new tab in all major Web browsers.
  • Alt+Tab — cycles through currently-open programs. If you also hold down Shift, it cycles backwards.
  • Ctrl+Tab — cycles through Web browser tabs (you can use Shift to go backwards too).
  • Ctrl+W — closes the current window or tab. Some applications can be closed with Ctrl+W, but Alt+F4 is universal.
  • Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V — copies selected text (you can use Shift and arrow keys to select text!), and then paste it. Use Alt-Tab to switch between source and destination for bonus points.
  • Ctrl+Z — undoes your last action. This works in almost everything except Web browsers. ‘Redo’ varies from program to program (check the ‘Edit’ menu to find out!)
  • Ctrl+Mouse scroll wheel — zoom in, zoom out. This works in almost every kind of app, including Web browsers. Great for increasing the size of tiny ‘aesthetic’ text on normal websites… or tiny thumbnails on nefarious ones. Also scales the size of icons on your desktop, if they’re too small for you!
  • F5 — refreshes your current folder/directory or Web page. Yes, you can hammer a button on your keyboard rather than foolishly clicking a button over and over!
  • Alt+D — selects the address bar in your Web browser or folder/directory view! Yes, I know — how awesome is that?
The space-cadet keyboard!

Really Neat Keyboard Shortcuts
This next block of shortcuts is for the power users, the administrators, those of you that want to squeeze just a little bit more out of your PC. These shortcuts are nearly all Windows Key combinations, so first… a little bit of trivia (you never know when you might get asked about the Windows Key in a pub quiz!).

The Windows Key (the one with the flag on, next to ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Alt’) is a relatively recent addition to modern keyboards. It’s functionally identical to the Mac’s Command Key, and both of them originated on the awesomely-named ‘Space-cadet keyboard‘ at MIT. Along with its bastard cousin the ‘menu key‘ (I can only assume that key was thrown in for special people with one-button mouses), it started to appear after Windows 95 was released. And now on with the shortcuts!

  • Windows Key+L — locks the computer! BLAM! It’s really fast and probably the best (and most secure) way to quickly clear your screen of anything offensive.
  • Windows Key+D — shows your desktop. Hit Windows Key+D again to bring the windows back! Another great way to hide whatever you’re up to — or maybe you just want to declutter your workspace.
  • Windows Key — pops up the Start Menu. It also focuses the ‘instant search/run’ box, so you can start typing immediately. Type the name of an application and press enter! Windows Key+R is the same thing but without the as-you-type search.
  • Windows Key+Number (0 through 9) — opens the program pinned to your Superbar/taskbar as indicated by the number. Windows Key+1 would be the first icon on your taskbar… +5 the fifth, and so on. If the program is already open, you switch focus to that window. Shift+Windows Key+Number opens a new instance of the pinned program.
  • Windows Key+Tab — a pretty, Aero Flip version of Alt+Tab. Cycle through your open applications in 3D! This can be quite slow on laptops or older PCs.
  • Windows Key+Shift+Left Arrow — on multi-monitor setups, this moves your current window to the left-hand screen. +Right Arrow would move it to the right. If you only have two screens it doesn’t matter which combo you use.

Note: these shortcuts all work with Windows 7; most of them work with Vista — and only some work with XP and earlier.

Kinda Cool Keyboard Shortcuts
This last section is dedicated to the shortcuts that no one really knows about. These are fairly obscure, and in some cases completely useless, but who knows: maybe you’ll find something useful!

  • Ctrl+Shift+Left Click — use this on a Superbar or Start Menu item to run it as an administrator. One of the many ways to combat UAC annoyances…!
  • Hold Shift — if you hold Shift after putting a CD into your computer it will stop it from Auto Running (this one goes way back to Windows 95!)
  • Ctrl+Shift — switches between keyboard layouts. Usually you’ll change keyboard layout without noticing… now you know the shortcut to change it back! (Or just uninstall the other keyboard layouts — that’s what I do)
  • Left Alt+Left Shift+Print Screen (PrtScrn) — changes Windows to ‘high contrast’ settings. Good for Web sites that all ‘fade into grey’ — or for older people with weaker eyes!
  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc — opens the Task Manager. No, you don’t have to access it via Ctrl+Alt+Del!
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del — yes… this one reboots your computer. Surprising how rarely you have to hit it nowadays, eh?
  • Windows Key, Right, Right — no, not a cheat code! This brings you to the Log Off/Shut Down/Sleep menu.
  • Ctrl+Right Arrow (or Left Arrow) — when word processing, this moves the cursor one word to the left or right. Much faster than simply ‘holding down the arrow key’. If you hold down Shift you also select the text as you go; very cool.
  • Home and End (Page Up, Page Down, etc.) — the whole ‘block’ to the right of the Enter key are actually used for moving around documents and pages. Home takes you to the start of a line; End… to the end. Hold Shift to select text as you go.
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