The Best Keyboard Shortcuts in Default Windows Programs

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Every good program makes use of keyboard shortcuts.

We’ve shown you the essential Microsoft Office keyboard shortcuts, and even compiled an ultimate keyboard shortcut guide with hundreds of the most popular combinations.

What we haven’t covered yet, are default Windows programs. Today, we’ll remedy that by taking a look at some keyboard shortcuts that will save you time in these tried-and-true applications.

A few notes, as always:

  • Keys appear in bold and keyboard combinations appear in bold, italic font.
  • Control is abbreviated as CTRL.
  • Keyboard shortcuts that need to be pressed at the same time will use a + symbol (e.g. CTRL + S).
  • Combinations that need to be pressed one after another will use a > (e.g. CTRL > T).

Microsoft Paint

Though you probably use a more powerful alternative, Microsoft Paint provides a decent way to edit screenshots. Next time you’re editing or just messing around, here are some keyboard shortcuts to make you more productive in Paint.

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Like most programs, you can use CTRL + N to create a new file, CTRL + O to open an existing image, or CTRL + S to save the current image.

You’re probably used to these ones, too, but in Paint they’re extra useful: use CTRL + Z to undo your last action and CTRL + Y to redo that change.

When you need to manipulate large chunks of an image, use CTRL + A to select the whole canvas. CTRL + C will copy a selection, while CTRL + X cuts the selection. After either of these actions, use CTRL + V to paste it to a new location.

Paint doesn’t have any tools for aligning images, and it can be tough to do this with the mouse. Instead, select an area and use the Right, Left, Up, and Down arrow keys to move a selection by one pixel at a time. This allows you fine-tuned control.

You’ll often be working with selections of the canvas in Paint. After you’ve selected some space, you can press ESC to cancel the selection or DEL to delete it right away.

Paint offers various brushes for your drawing delight; try pressing CTRL (+) + or CTRL (+) – to increase or decrease the width of a brush, line, or shape outline by one pixel respectively.

Since the shortcuts combos that usually zoom in and out are used for line weight in Paint, you can use CTRL + Page Up or CTRL + Page Down to zoom in or out of the canvas.

There a couple of dialogue boxes available in Paint you can easily open with shortcuts. To open Image Properties, where you can change the size of the canvas, press CTRL + E. CTRL + W opens the Resize and Skew dialogue where you can further mess with your image or selection.

CTRL + R toggles the on-screen ruler for making exact measurements, and its buddy CTRL + G will enable or disable the gridlines.

If you’re still shaky on grabbing screenshots in the first place, find out how to easily capture what you see on your screen.

Windows Calculator

The Windows Calculator is one of the most underappreciated features of Windows. It’s much more than it seems at first glance, and packs a ton of punch for such a small program. Though there are calculator alternatives, learning some keyboard shortcuts for the default one could make it even more useful for you.

The Calculator has several different modes, if you didn’t know. Use ALT + 1 to use Standard mode, ALT + 2 to switch to the Scientific calculator, ALT + 3 for Programmer mode, and ALT + 4 if you want the Statistics calculator.

Press CTRL + E to open the date calculation window, CTRL + U for the unit conversion window, and CTRL + F4 to hide either of these windows.

To keep a list of calculations you’ve run, press CTRL + H to toggle calculation history. To clear it, press CTRL + SHIFT + D. If you’d like to go back and edit a past calculation, press F2; you can use the Up and Down arrows to navigate through the history. ESC will cancel out of editing and you can press ENTER to re-run an edited history item.

There are many more shortcuts you can use in the calculator that correspond to specific buttons on the screen, but reviewing them all would be tedious. Since there are so many of these, especially in the Scientific calculator, I’ll only list a sampling here; check the full listing if you need more for your favorite mode.

In the Standard view, press F9 to toggle the +/- button. Use R to utilize the 1/x function, and @ to calculate the square root.

For the Scientific calculator, ; will press the Int button, S is the shortcut for sin, O triggers cos, and T presses tan. P will press the pi button, while X presses the Exp button. Q runs the x^2 calculation and Y runs x^y.

Also in Scientific mode, you can press F3 to select Degrees, F4 for Radians, and F5 for Grads.

In the Programmer calculator, pressing F5 will select Hex, F6 will choose Dec, F7 corresponds to Oct mode, and F8 selects Bin. You can also press Space to toggle individual bit values. ^ corresponds to Xor, ~ is for Not, while & corresponds to And.

In Statistics view, press S to calculate the sum, CTRL + S for Sum Sq, T for the S.D. button, and D for the CAD button. CTRL + T will trigger Inv S.D.

Windows Magnifier

The Windows Magnifier makes your screen easier to read with several modes. While there are only a few shortcuts for it, they can make navigating with the magnifier much easier.

Instead of struggling with the mouse while zoomed in, just press WIN (+) + or WIN (+) – to zoom in or out.

When using full screen mode, CTRL + ALT + Space lets you preview the full screen (essentially just lets you see where you’re zoomed at in relation to the whole screen).

You can switch between modes with shortcuts. Use CTRL + ALT + F to switch to full-screen mode; CTRL + ALT + L switches to Lens mode, and CTRL + ALT + D enables Docked mode.

CTRL + ALT + I will invert all colors on the screen (this looks pretty wild, but can be used to make nighttime reading easier on your eyes!)

CTRL + ALT + R will enter the lens resizing mode (when you’re using the lens), where you can move the mouse to change the size and layout of the lens. This is useful if you’re reading a lot of horizontal text, for instance.

If you get stuck in the magnifier and don’t know what to do, simply press WIN + ESC to exit!

Taking Shortcuts

Now you have plenty of ways to whiz around your favorite Windows applications. There are even more shortcuts for programs like WordPad, but that isn’t used as often as these. Don’t forget you can press F1 at any time to open the Help dialogue in most programs and find even more shortcuts!

Are you an Office junkie? Find out how you can get all the Office shortcuts you’ll ever need.

What default Windows programs do you utilize shortcuts in? Were any of these a surprise to you? Let us know how you use shortcuts in the comments below!

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