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People love taking shortcuts in all aspects of life; computers are no exception. Shortcuts, particularly ones performed by keyboard, can save you hours of time once applied properly. We’ve rounded up some of the most common keyboard shortcuts in the past, but today we’re here to produce the ultimate guide on Windows shortcuts.

After examining how useful shortcuts can be, we’ll first look at universal shortcuts that perform the same function in pretty much every program you could use. We’ll dive into specific programs after that, and finish up with a selection of alternative tricks. Stay on board and you’ll be mastering these tricks in no time!

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Why Bother with Shortcuts?

If you’re not accustomed to using them, keyboard shortcuts might seem like a waste of time. After all, you can use your mouse to make selections, use the toolbar options (like File, Edit, and Tools), launch programs, and navigate websites. In actuality, though, a mouse isn’t required to use your computer Missing Or Broken Mouse? Operate Windows Completely From Your Keyboard Missing Or Broken Mouse? Operate Windows Completely From Your Keyboard Your computer’s mouse may seem like an essential peripheral, but it’s not – it’s just nice to have. If you don’t have a working mouse around – or if you just feel like learning some... Read More at all; you could get around with just a keyboard if you had to.

01-Streamline-Mouse

Consider this: you probably only have one hand on your mouse (if you use a two-handed mouse, I’d love to see pictures). Keeping that other hand on the keyboard and learning some keyboard shortcuts is an excellent idea; your spare hand probably isn’t doing anything else productive! If you were writing a paper in Word and took ten seconds to save the document every five minutes by manually clicking File > Save, you’d be spending two minutes of every hour just saving! A quick tap of Control + S takes a fraction of a second and doesn’t take your hands (and mind) away from typing like using the mouse does.

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Now, you don’t have to get carried away. If your memory isn’t capable of remembering hundreds of shortcuts, that’s okay! Aside from exercising your mind 5 Things You Can Do In 5 Minutes To Exercise Your Brain 5 Things You Can Do In 5 Minutes To Exercise Your Brain Keeping your brain in top shape requires that you challenge it on a regular basis. Surprisingly, you can do a lot in five minutes. Here are five things you can do for your mental fitness. Read More , focusing on just a few common shortcuts and integrating them into your daily use will soon make them second nature. Once you’re not even thinking about doing it anymore, add a few more to your repertoire, and keep the cycle going! Keep in mind that not every shortcut is worth using for every person, either. If you never play music on your computer, you’re not going to use fast-forward shortcuts, so skip those!

To be clear, this guide is written for Windows keyboards. The keys on a keyboard shouldn’t cause any ambiguity, but just for the sake of consistency:

  • All keys will appear in bold and keyboard combinations will appear in bold, italic font.
  • 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).
  • As we go, I’ll be sharing various strategies for committing shortcuts to memory, including subliminally bolding letters of commands that match their shortcuts. If you don’t find these helpful, glaze over them!
  • The SHIFT key is used as a “reverse” function for many key combinations. For example, SPACE will jump down a set amount on a web page, so SHIFT + SPACE will move back up that same amount. A note will be made when this applies to a shortcut.
  • Control will be abbreviated as CTRL.
  • Windows Key is abbreviated as WIN.
  • LEFT, RIGHT, UP, and DOWN refer to the arrow keys.
  • Remember that no two keyboards are the same; some laptop keyboards may have Function (FN) keys that perform their own functions on the F1-F12 keys.

Windows Keyboard

Universal Windows Shortcuts

Of course these aren’t guaranteed to hold 100% of the time, but there are some shortcuts that will be identical in almost every corner of Windows or any program you use. Most of these have been around forever, so you might be familiar with a handful already. Many of these basic shortcuts also conveniently have key combinations that match their function (such as CTRL + S for Save), making them a cinch to learn.

Download: Windows Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet Windows Shortcuts Windows Shortcuts Read More

Most Common and Useful Shortcuts

WIN will open the Start menu on Windows 7 and 10 and allow you to start typing a search term immediately; the speed even rivals keystroke launcher Launchy How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher Read More if you don’t mind the basic functionality.

You’ll find this much faster than manually mousing over to the Start button and then having to type. Those on Windows 8 or 8.1 will be taken to the Start screen with this key – though you can easily bring back the old Start menu with some free tools Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More .

Probably the most ubiquitous of our study are the shortcuts that deal with text editing Master These Universal Keyboard Shortcuts For Text Editing Master These Universal Keyboard Shortcuts For Text Editing After months of practicing, you have finally boosted your typing speed above that of a snail. You have finally got the hang of not looking at the keyboard for each character. You are no longer... Read More :

Cut, Copy, and Paste

These shortcuts located all in a row on the standard QWERTY keyboard A History of Keyboard Layouts, Is QWERTY Lagging Behind? A History of Keyboard Layouts, Is QWERTY Lagging Behind? QWERTY is over 100 years old. It's outdated and outclassed by several alternatives, yet it's still the most popular keyboard layout in the world. How did we get here? Read More , making them easy to locate. To keep them straight, think of X as making a cut, C standing for copy, and then V, the only one left, is the arrowhead pointing downwards for dropping or inserting what was saved to the clipboard! Don’t forget that copy-pasting works for more than just text; images are fair game, as well.

02-Control-C-Shortcut

Select All

To select everything in the current space, use CTRL + A. If you’re typing in a textbox in Chrome, for example, this shortcut will select all the text you’ve typed. If you click any old point on a page, you’ll select every element, including images and other formatting.

Selecting all is most useful when you’re trying to work with a bunch of files at once How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More , or perhaps to grab everything you’ve just typed and re-use it elsewhere. Manually dragging the mouse over the selection is much slower.

Undo & Redo

CTRL + Z will undo any action and is your best friend when doing any sort of work on your computer, especially tasks prone to errors such as image editing Photoshop Is Overkill: Edit Your Images With These Free Chrome Apps And Extensions Photoshop Is Overkill: Edit Your Images With These Free Chrome Apps And Extensions Although Photoshop is a great program, it has its drawbacks. Photoshop is not only very expensive, it also has too many controls for what you probably need. There are a lot of editors you could... Read More or formatting a document. Its counterpart, CTRL + Y, will redo a previously undone action. Use these two regularly and your mistakes will be vanquished in an instant!

Delete Routines

When typing, instead of using Backspace to delete one character at a time, use CTRL + Backspace to delete entire words at once. This also works with CTRL + DEL to delete one word in front of the cursor.

Save, Open, and Print Files

Use CTRL + S to save whatever file you’re working on – and do it often so you don’t lose your work! In a browser, this can also be used to save a page for offline viewing How To Save A Complete Webpage For Offline Reading How To Save A Complete Webpage For Offline Reading Read More .

CTRL + O will open a file into whatever program you’re using.

Keeping in the CTRL family, CTRL + P is the universal command to print. Many folks are striving to go paperless The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today Paperless – a term that is used quite often now days. But what does it mean? And to what extent does it apply? Certainly we all still use paper to some degree despite the advancements... Read More , but most of us need to print for work or perhaps that relative who still doesn’t have a computer. Those who print websites often should utilize tools to make printing web pages more presentable Top Tips & Tools to Help With Printing Webpages Top Tips & Tools to Help With Printing Webpages No matter how hard you try to go paperless, sometimes you just need to print that webpage. It might be for directions, an article for class, a handout for a meeting at work, etc. As... Read More so you’re not printing a bunch of ads and other useless material. Ink is expensive!

Close Windows and Tabs

We’ll talk about using shortcuts to open programs in Windows, but you can just as easily close out of your work with a few taps. Try ALT + F4 to close any window (identical to clicking the X in the top-right corner) or CTRL + F4 to close out just the current tab. Alternatively, CTRL + W will also close your tab.

Search Documents

When you’re stuck searching for a word 4 Browser Extensions For Searching Multiple Words On A Webpage [Chrome, Firefox] 4 Browser Extensions For Searching Multiple Words On A Webpage [Chrome, Firefox] Do you ever find yourself needing to search things on a webpage? The find function (CTRL+F) is an awesome keyboard shortcut and feature in browsers – chances are you already know about it and use... Read More in a huge PDF document, web page, or other application, CTRL + F will open the Find bar (see, it matches!). Type anything in and you can use ENTER to snap to the next result; SHIFT + ENTER will go back one hit.

Move Between Windows, Tabs, and Monitors

How often do you find yourself switching between programs by clicking on their taskbar icons? Even if you’ve beefed up your taskbar Get More Out Of The Windows Taskbar with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker Get More Out Of The Windows Taskbar with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker Could the Windows Taskbar be more useful? You can quickly add features and keep things simple with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. Customize your Taskbar to your needs - without the fluff. Read More , using ALT + TAB is faster as it lets you instantly switch between your last two opened applications.

Holding ALT lets you see everything that’s open and allows you to TAB to any program. You can use SHIFT to step backwards, or WIN + TAB and the same process if you like your switching to be a bit fancier. Chris covered even more ALT + TAB tricks if you’re digging this shortcut.  Note that in Windows 10 WIN + TAB will open the virtual desktop screen How to Increase Your Virtual Desktop Space How to Increase Your Virtual Desktop Space Feeling overwhelmed by all the windows you need open for various tasks or jobs? If this windows clutter causes you stress, virtual desktops are for you. Read More  (see below).

03-Win-Tab-Shortcut

Similarly, using CTRL + TAB inside a program will switch between all open tabs. This works in browsers and any other application with a tabbed interface (like Foxit Reader, a great alternative to Adobe Reader This Is Why You Don't Need Adobe Reader This Is Why You Don't Need Adobe Reader Adobe Reader isn’t just unnecessary – it has a history of being an application you wouldn’t want on your system. From being extremely heavy and slow to having a long series of security flaws, Adobe... Read More ).

To take switching programs a step further, try launching the programs pinned to your taskbar by pressing WIN + 1-0 – so 1 will launch the program to the far left, 2 the next, and so on up to 0, the tenth. Choosing the number of a program that’s already open will switch to it right away; take advantage of this by putting your default browser Browser Wars: Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Opera, The Definitive Benchmark Browser Wars: Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Opera, The Definitive Benchmark If you could only choose one browser, which one would it be? Which is best: Firefox, Chrome or Opera? We'll show you. Read More at position 1 and you can switch back to it at any time!

If you’re using two monitors to form an extended desktop Two Monitors for an Extended Desktop: 3 Things You Should Check First Two Monitors for an Extended Desktop: 3 Things You Should Check First You'd think that all you'd have to do is plug any video display into the computer port on your laptop or PC. Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Read More , you might have some issues getting Windows to output your displays the way you want them. Use WIN + P to toggle between the four available modes on the fly.

04-Control-P-Menu

Open File Explorer & System Properties

Using Windows Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer Windows Explorer is the default Windows file manager. Last week I introduced you to 3 easy ways to improve Windows 7 Explorer by tweaking features and using it to its full potential. In this article,... Read More lets you browse all the files on your machine; one of the places you probably end up most is the Computer page to view your attached drives and devices. Get there instantly with WIN + E.

Those that perform tech support for family and friends 7 Ways to Ensure Your Loved Ones' PC Will Never Need Fixing 7 Ways to Ensure Your Loved Ones' PC Will Never Need Fixing Are you tech support for your family or friends? Do you receive frantic calls because they've installed malware or somehow managed to break their computer and they need you to fix it? This can be... Read More often need information about their loved ones’ systems, such as whether their copy of Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit 4 Easy Ways to Know If You're on a 64-Bit Version of Windows 4 Easy Ways to Know If You're on a 64-Bit Version of Windows Are you using a processor that supports a 64-bit operating system and are you running a 64-bit operating system? The average off-and-on PC user probably doesn't know the answers to these questions, although they should.... Read More . Pressing WIN + PAUSE/BREAK will bring up the System Properties panel with basic information about your PC that you can share with whoever is helping you.

Show Desktop

When you have tons of windows open and need to access a file on your desktop (or just want to admire an awesome wallpaper Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Your choice of desktop wallpaper says a lot about who you are. So, if your wallpaper is an expression of who you are, where can you find wallpapers that fit your personality? Read More ), press WIN + D to instantly show the desktop. You can tap it again to get back to where you were.

05-Shortcut-Fingers

Minimize & Maximize Windows

Similarly, if you need to clear your mind 10 Calming Apps to Destress & Clear Your Mind 10 Calming Apps to Destress & Clear Your Mind You are not alone if you have you ever felt stuck in your thoughts? Like you're trudging and not able to make any headway. Calming, thought-organizing apps can rescue the mind. Read More from the insanity of work for a minute, pressing WIN + M will quickly minimize all open windows. Once you’re ready to get back in the action use SHIFT + WIN + M to get everything back open.

Lock System

You’ve read plenty about securing your computer Five Tips For Managing Your Security In Windows 8.1 Five Tips For Managing Your Security In Windows 8.1 Read More , but none of your measures will do much good if your system is accessible to anyone who walks by! To quickly lock your computer as you stand up to walk away, use WIN + L. If you’ve ever had someone leave a goofy Facebook update for you when you’re away from your computer, you’ll appreciate this one.

Open Security Screen & Task Manager

One shortcut as old as Windows itself that most people resort to when their system freezes up is CTRL + ALT + DEL. In modern versions of Windows, this will bring up the Windows security screen that lets you change your password or log off, among other things.

The program you’re probably looking for is the Task Manager, which is directly accessed by the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC combo. Once you’re there, be sure you know what’s going on with our guide to the Task Manager Mysteries Of The Windows 7 Task Manager: Why You Don't Need an Alternative Mysteries Of The Windows 7 Task Manager: Why You Don't Need an Alternative This might seem contrary to what you read about throughout the Internet, but the Windows Task Manager is fine as it is – it doesn’t need a replacement. You could interpret that as a simple... Read More .

06-CTRL-ALT-DEL-Shortcut

Windows 8/8.1 Shortcuts

Windows 8 and 8.1 (which makes significant improvements over Windows 8 Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Curious about the latest Windows 8.1 Update or not sure what this is about? KB2919355 is a cumulative update that comes with useful features. It can also be removed in case it causes issues. Read More – it’s important and free, so grab it now!) include their own set of key combos that might not apply in Windows 7 or earlier. Here are some shortcuts you’ll want to know if you’re rocking Windows 8.

Download: Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts Read More

Open Charms Bar & Search

WIN + C will open the Charms bar, the central hub for searching, sharing, and accessing settings. You can use swipe gestures in Windows 8 Everything You Need To Know About Windows 8 Swipe Gestures On A Laptop Everything You Need To Know About Windows 8 Swipe Gestures On A Laptop With the introduction of Windows 8, a lot of brand-new touch-friendly features have been added to make the operating system enjoyable to use on touch-enabled devices. However, for typical laptops which only have touchpads for... Read More to get there as well, but those can be annoying and activate by accident.

Since you can’t just tap WIN and start searching like in Windows 7, use WIN + Q to open the Search charm from anywhere. This lets you search for files, settings, and even the Web if you like.

Other important Charm items have shortcuts too: WIN + I will jump you to Settings, WIN + W lets you start searching settings (great if you need to find a buried Control Panel item).

Access System Tools

WIN + X launches Windows Tools, a useful menu containing shortcuts to common utilities like the Control Panel, Device Manager, or Programs menu. Since the Start menu that used to hold all these shortcuts was removed in Windows 8, this group of commands is quite convenient. Should you find yourself using this frequently, expanding the Windows Tools menu with a third-party program 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor Windows 8 contains an almost hidden feature you need to know about! Press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu you can now customize. Read More is a good plan.

07-Windows-Tools-Menu

On Windows 7, this menu doesn’t exist, so WIN + X brings up the Windows Mobility Center instead. It’s still useful, especially on laptops where you change settings like screen brightness, volume, and display mode frequently.

Read: Guide to the Windows 7 Mobility Center One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls Seeing how useful this tool is, it's shockingly fameless. I'm talking about the Windows Mobility Center. Say what? See what I mean! Read More

Windows 7 Mobility Center

Snap Windows

You can snap windows to either side of your screen (an Aero feature left in Windows 8 Windows 8 Doesn't Come with Aero - But You Can Add It With These Tools Windows 8 Doesn't Come with Aero - But You Can Add It With These Tools Whichever way you look at it, Windows 8 has been a controversial release. The latest version of Microsoft’s domestic operating system has built in touch and no Start button on the Desktop view, something that... Read More ) for dual-pane working; using WIN + . (Period) snaps the current App to the right side of the screen and WIN + SHIFT + . (Period) throws it to the left.

Open Modern App Command Bar

08-Windows-8-Command-BarWindows 8 Apps (we’ve collected the best Modern Apps The Best Windows 10 Apps The Best Windows 10 Apps Windows 10 Store apps have come a long way. Meanwhile, you can choose from a considerable selection, free and paid. We have picked out the ones worth your while. Read More for your convenience) have unique App Command bars that appear at the bottom of the screen – for example, the Start screen’s contains options to unpin, uninstall, or resize an app. Right-clicking or swiping up from the bottom of the screen will open these, as will WIN + Z.

See our complete guide to Windows 8 shortcuts Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Windows 8 is all about shortcuts. People with touch-enabled PCs use touch gestures, users without touch devices must learn the mouse shortcuts, power users use keyboard shortcuts on the desktop and novel command-line shortcuts, and... Read More for even more, including gestures and new command line tricks.

Windows 10 Shortcuts

Windows 10 is coming Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More . Microsoft’s new OS attempts to make up for the ill-received Windows 8, and as such has all-new shortcuts that weren’t around in 7 or 8. You can install the technical preview of Windows 10 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview You can try Windows 10 Technical Preview for free and help Microsoft polish its new flagship operating system. Before you install it, make sure you choose the best method for your needs. Read More and try these now for yourself, but be cautious; the unfinished product should not be your main operating system Why The Windows 10 Technical Preview Should Not Be Your Main OS Why The Windows 10 Technical Preview Should Not Be Your Main OS If you think Windows 10 is a keylogger, you know nothing about the purpose of a Technical Preview. That's OK because we're here to explain. Read More as it hasn’t been sufficiently prepared for mainstream use.

09-Windows-10-Desktop

Snap Windows

Windows 10 increases the functionality of window snapping. In addition to WIN + LEFT and WIN + RIGHT, try WIN + UP and WIN + DOWN to snap your windows side-by-side vertically. Using all four, you can now display four windows at once in a little 2 x 2 grid.

Open Task View

Previously, you had to utilize third-party tools for virtual desktops Use 10 Virtual Desktops To Boost Productivity With Just One Screen [Windows] Use 10 Virtual Desktops To Boost Productivity With Just One Screen [Windows] Ever since I started using a second monitor, I realized that I just can't get enough screen space. Every task seems to require so much display real estate. When I'm editing, I like to have... Read More , but the new Windows runs them natively.

  • WIN + TAB goes from displaying a nice visual effect (in Windows 7) to an essential new menu – the Task View. Once you tap the key combination, you’ll be able to let the buttons go and choose between open programs in your current virtual environment.
  • ALT + TAB is the same as before, except you can switch between programs from any desktop.

On the subject of virtual desktops, you’ll also want to use WIN + CTRL + D to create a new virtual desktop environment, WIN + CTRL + F4 to close your active desktop (remember that ALT + F4 closes open windows, so this is the same idea), and WIN + CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT to toggle between your open desktops.

Open Settings App

Windows 10 no longer contains a Charms bar. At the time of writing this manual, WIN + C had no function. WIN + I, which previously opened the Charms bar Settings, now opens the Settings app, which is a modern Control Panel.

Navigate Command Prompt

Windows 10 includes some long-awaited new shortcuts that make using the command prompt 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More much more user-friendly. Instead of having to right click and choose Paste, you’ll finally be able to use CTRL shortcuts to edit text when on the command line.

Before you try these, the How-To Geek explains how to enable the new shortcuts: right click on the title bar of a command prompt, choose Properties, and under the Experimental tab check the box next to Enable new CTRL key shortcuts.

  • Just like other places in Windows, you can now use CTRL + C to copy text, CTRL + V to paste text, and CTRL + A to select everything on the console window.
  • Managing multiple lines of commands is much simpler when using SHIFT + Arrows to move the cursor and select text; up and down move one line, while left and right move one character at a time. Holding CTRL + SHIFT + Arrows will move one word at a time. Keep holding down SHIFT to select more text.
  • SHIFT + HOME/END will move your cursor to the start or end of the current line, selecting all text on that line with it. Adding CTRL to this shortcut will move to the beginning or end of the entire output.
  • Holding SHIFT + PAGE UP/DOWN scrolls the cursor by a whole screen, and as you might guess, also selects the text on said page.
  • Using CTRL + UP/DOWN lets you scroll one line at a time (just like using the scroll bar on the right), while CTRL + PAGE UP/DOWN moves a whole page up or down.
  • CTRL + M lets you enter a “marking mode” to mark text. Since you can highlight text now using SHIFT, you might not need this shortcut.
  • You can finally use CTRL + F to search for text in a command prompt.

Read: 15 CMD Commands Every Windows User Should Know 15 CMD Commands Every Windows User Should Know 15 CMD Commands Every Windows User Should Know The command prompt is an antiquated tool from an era of text-based input. But some commands remain useful and Windows 8 even added new features. Find out which ones. Read More

Specific Software Shortcuts

Now that we’ve seen shortcuts that work across Windows, let’s take a glance at some time-savers for the best Windows software The Best Windows Software The Best Windows Software Windows is swimming in a sea of free applications. Which ones can you trust and which ones are the best? If you're unsure or need to solve a specific task, consult this list. Read More .

All Browsers

Whether you’re surfing with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or even good old Internet Explorer Is Internet Explorer Making A Big Return In 2015? Is Internet Explorer Making A Big Return In 2015? Microsoft no longer has to offer EU Windows users a choice of browsers. Moreover, Microsoft is working on a new browser. Nevertheless, we'll show you how to install your favorite browser without touching IE. Read More , these shortcuts will get you around with less clicks.

Switch and Open Tabs

Open Links

When you want to open a link but don’t want it to take over your current page, CTRL + Left Click it to open it in a new tab. You can also Middle Click the link for the same result. CTRL + SHIFT + Left Click will do the same as the above, but you’ll be brought to the new tab instead of it being left for later.

Go Back and Forth, Refresh, and Stop Loading

Instead of using your browser’s back and forward buttons, ALT + LEFT will go back, and ALT + RIGHT goes forward if applicable. For as often as you navigate pages, this is definitely one worth getting into the habit How To Build One Brain-Boosting Habit In 2015 How To Build One Brain-Boosting Habit In 2015 In 2015, give your brain a boost. It's easier than you think and takes only a few minutes of your life each day — something you can easily turn into a habit. Read More of using. When you need to quickly refresh a web page Reload All Tabs For Chrome: Refreshing All Your Browser Tabs Has Never Been Easier [Chrome] Reload All Tabs For Chrome: Refreshing All Your Browser Tabs Has Never Been Easier [Chrome] At one time or another, we’ve all had to refresh a page, whether it was because it crashed, or we needed to update it, etc. And often at times, there is a need to refresh... Read More for various reasons, F5 will do it for you. To override the browser’s cache Everything You Need to Know About the Browser Cache [MakeUseOf Explains] Everything You Need to Know About the Browser Cache [MakeUseOf Explains] Whenever you have an issue with a website, one of the first suggestions you will hear from IT support is "try to clear your browser cache" along with "and delete your cookies". So what is... Read More and fully reload the page if it’s being finicky, use CTRL + F5. If you want to stop a page from loading, ESC will cease the page’s activities.

Go Home

Having taken the time to set up an awesome homepage Bring Some Life Into Your Browser With These 5 Brilliant Start-Page Extensions [Chrome] Bring Some Life Into Your Browser With These 5 Brilliant Start-Page Extensions [Chrome] Chrome’s default start page has nothing to be ashamed of. With its neat appearance and quick access to apps, most visited pages and recently closed tabs, it’s fast becoming a great option for a default... Read More , you’ll want to visit it whenever you can. ALT + HOME will bring you back where the heart is.

Send

This one doesn’t do anything in the browser itself, but many websites (including sending email with any provider, posting messages on Facebook and Twitter, and PC texting apps 3 Ways to Send and Check SMS Messages from Your PC 3 Ways to Send and Check SMS Messages from Your PC Do you often get distracted by SMS alerts on your mobile while working on the computer? Switching from one device to another is major interruption of your work flow, so tools that help you stay... Read More such as MightyText) use CTRL + ENTER as an equivalent to clicking Send or Enter.

Zoom In or Out

Sometimes it’s too hard to read text How To Make Text Easier To Read In Windows How To Make Text Easier To Read In Windows Most of us spend hours reading on the computer every day, but our computers probably aren’t optimized for reading. The text on our monitors may not be sharp enough or may be too small, especially... Read More on a page, or perhaps you need to inspect an image from close-up. To quickly scroll, use CTRL + +/- to go in or out. You can also hold CTRL and slide the mouse wheel instead of using the + and buttons for faster scaling. To jump back to standard zoom, a quick tap of CTRL + 0 makes everything look normal again.

Address Bar Shortcuts

CTRL + L instantly focuses the cursor on the address bar so you can paste in a URL or search for a term. Once in the address bar, CTRL + ENTER will add “www.” before your text and “.com” to the end of it. So instead of manually entering “www.makeuseof.com”, you can just type “makeuseof” CTRL + ENTER and your browser will fill in the boring parts.

Navigate Menus

Use a few shortcuts to jump to the sub-menus of your browser. CTRL + H opens the history, CTRL + J will bring you to your downloads, CTRL + D adds the current site to your bookmarks Everything You Need to Know About Managing Chrome Bookmarks Everything You Need to Know About Managing Chrome Bookmarks Chrome has a number of features to help you sync, easily access, manage, sort, and tidy your bookmarks. Some people manage just fine without bookmarks, but not most of us. If you use the Chrome... Read More , and CTRL + SHIFT + DEL opens the prompt to clear the browsing history How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History As you browse the Internet, tracks of websites you visit are left on your computer, including cookies, cached websites, a history of visited sites and searches, site preferences, and more. These data reveal your browsing... Read More .

Other Programs

We’ve written at length in the past on shortcuts for specific programs, so I won’t be redundant here. If you’re looking to get around faster in your favorite software, these articles will put you well on your way.

10-Shortcuts-Web-Apps

Type Special Characters

Special characters (such as ¡ or ®) are necessary to type sometimes, but it’s annoying to copy them from the Web every time you need one. If you don’t want to use a website like copypastecharacter to do the job quickly, using ALT and the numeric key pad lets you punch these in at any time.

Download: Special Windows Characters Cheat Sheet Shortcuts For Special Characters on Windows Shortcuts For Special Characters on Windows Read More

Make Your Own Shortcuts

If you’re not satisfied with the variety of hotkeys available to you Windows Shortcuts Windows Shortcuts Read More , it’s time to make your own shortcuts. Since they’re user-created, they’re incredibly versatile – you can use them to just open a few of your favorite programs, or make in-depth shortcuts that perform a string of functions for you. Here’s a basic overview of what you can do.

Launch a Program with a Shortcut

Go-to programs that you use all the time shouldn’t be more than a few taps away. To make a custom shortcut, first find the program you want to use and create a shortcut icon for it. Place the shortcut anywhere, then right-click it. Choose Properties and in the Shortcut Properties box, type your combination into the Shortcut button.

11-Program-Launch-Shortcut

Keep in mind that though all shortcuts made here start with CTRL + ALT, it can’t be a combo that’s already in use elsewhere, so pick something unique. Launching multiple programs with one command Launch Multiple Programs From a Single Shortcut Using a Batch File Launch Multiple Programs From a Single Shortcut Using a Batch File Do you always launch a specific set of applications? What if you could launch them with a single click? It only takes a minute to set up and will save you so much time! Read More is possible – give it a shot if you have applications that you like to launch in pairs.

Get Some Help from Another Program

For anything beyond opening a few programs, you’ll want to utilize powerful third-party tools to make some shortcuts. Since we’ve covered this topic in the past, I’ll refer you to our existing resources if you wish to give it a shot: the powerful AutoHotKey combined with ac’tivAid How To Pimp Windows With AutoHotkey Scripts Using ac'tivAid How To Pimp Windows With AutoHotkey Scripts Using ac'tivAid Read More lets you do nearly whatever you want with automation; novices should try out the less intimidating HotkeyP HotkeyP Lets You Easily Configure & Customize Hotkeys For Anything [Windows] HotkeyP Lets You Easily Configure & Customize Hotkeys For Anything [Windows] When it comes to controlling my computer using hotkeys, I’m a huge fan of AutoHotkey. However, if you’re just starting out on the path to complete keyboard domination, AutoHotkey may seem a bit daunting. Add-ons... Read More which doesn’t involve any AutoHotKey code.

Though it’s probably not as fast, if you use the Run menu (WIN + R) regularly, using AddToRun How To Make Your Own Windows Run Menu Shortcuts How To Make Your Own Windows Run Menu Shortcuts Read More will let you add program shortcuts to that prompt.

When Shortcuts Go Bad

As amazing as keyboard shortcuts are, sometimes you activate a key combination by mistake Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake It happens even to the most experienced of users: the accidental keyboard shortcuts. No matter how often you use your computer, weird things can start happening when you’re going too fast, when you lean on... Read More , leading to all sorts of wacky things. Let’s see some of the common culprits and find out how to actually take advantage of what they do!

12-Flipped-Display

13-Sticky-Keys-Popup

For most, this is just a Windows annoyance 10 Windows Annoyances You Could Rid Yourself Of Right Now 10 Windows Annoyances You Could Rid Yourself Of Right Now We make do with Windows, but it isn’t perfect. In fact, Windows computers can be extremely annoying. They’re full of all sorts of annoying features that just get in our way and slow us down,... Read More you won’t ever want enabled, so it’s wise to disable the prompt so you stop being pestered about it. Tap SHIFT five times to get the pop-up (if it doesn’t come up, you’ve already disabled it) and then choose to go to the Ease of Access Center, where you can disable the shortcut.

There are Shortcuts in Life

Hopefully you made it through our massive list of Windows shortcuts! Although we compiled a ton of them, there could be even more that aren’t as universally useful. As Windows adds features in future versions, we’re likely to get an even larger library than we currently have.

Remember that you’re not expected to remember or even use all the shortcuts presented here! Pick out the ones that you’d use most in a regular day, and work them into your routine. They’re designed to help you, and I’ll bet if you haven’t been using many shortcuts until now, you’re going to be very pleased with your increased productivity! If it helps you, make up your own mnemonics to get them into your head even faster.

Hungry for even more shortcuts? Check out how to add shortcuts to your right-click menu 10 Best Shortcuts to Add to Your Right-Click Menu 10 Best Shortcuts to Add to Your Right-Click Menu The context menu that pops up whenever you perform a right-click can help you become more productive. With the right tool, customizing the shortcuts within it is a breeze. Read More , or try something different and check out Just Gestures to use mouse shortcuts Just Gestures Lets You Use Mouse Gestures To Control Windows Just Gestures Lets You Use Mouse Gestures To Control Windows Keyboard shortcuts are a well known strategy to cut a few corners and avoid navigating menus while working on the computer. Often, however, your hands are not on the keyboard and it would be much... Read More .

What are your most-used Windows keyboard shortcuts? Did you learn any new useful hotkeys here? Leave a comment (there’s no shortcut for doing so!) and let me know what you think of the list!

Image Credits: Hands typing Via Shutterstock, Windows Keyboard and Finger pressing the keyboard via Shutterstock, Damian_Yerrick/Wikimedia

  1. Simon Lindgaard
    August 3, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Could you make a cheatsheet from this information?

    • Ben Stegner
      August 4, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Simon,

      Is the PDF at the start of the article not what you are looking for? Do you mean a bullet list of just straight commands with their key combos?

  2. Manuel
    February 26, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Sometimes you are gaming and you dont want to exit your game just to simply skip to the next song in your playlist. Keyboards featuring media functional key is a solution to that problem. But what if you wanted to save those extra dollart? Isn't there a shortcut for previous/skip a song playing? really...
    I didnt see anything like that listed. So I,m going to see if there is a workaround solution like a program that I can use or something.

  3. Peter Buyze
    October 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Just read this for the 1st time: excellent article Ben !!

    • Ben Stegner
      October 30, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      I'm glad you liked it! Thanks Peter.

  4. Jeff
    February 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Have you seen the KickStarter for KeyMouse?

  5. Ignacio Agulló
    February 21, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Great guide, thank you.

  6. Aleta
    February 19, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    This is not an article, it is a manual! This needs to be in my life.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      This is a lot like the old manuals we used to do, just updated to be a longform article. I'm glad it was right for you!

  7. InezbyDesign
    February 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Great article, saving it to go more in depth with it.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Awesome! There's nothing wrong with learning in steps!

  8. Larry
    February 19, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Why can't more subjects be written as clear as this ? -- clear and easy to understand --- Thank you for the outstanding article -- keep up the good work.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Your comments mean a lot, Larry. Thanks a lot for appreciating this piece! I'll continue to create useful content and I appreciate you visiting the site!

    • Tina Sieber
      February 20, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thank you Larry! Ben put a lot of effort into this article and he did a fantastic job; it's awesome to hear that from readers like you. :)

  9. Sergei
    February 18, 2015 at 7:42 am

    It is very helpful indeed! Thanks a lot.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Glad I could help, and I hope the guide benefits you for a while to come!

  10. Manuel Longo
    February 17, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I have been using shorcuts for years (I am paralyzed) and I actually install Windows WITHOUT a mouse (XP - never needed to install 8.1 YET!). As a keyboard I use Lucy (http://www.lucykeyboard.com/)...the computer "sees" it as an ordinary keyboard. The shorcuts are very useful and everybody should learn them.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 20, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Thank you for sharing this tool, Manuel!

      We don't look for / at tools like these enough, mainly because we don't use them. But your comment inspired me to add a section for aids like Lucy to our Best Windows Software page. What would you propose to call it?

    • Manuel Longo
      February 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Tina,

      Actually I am pretty hopeless at coming up with names. What I can say is that most people don't know that Lucy exists!.....which is a pity as it is truly excellent. When I bought it (10 years ago), Internet was a very different place - things that today we take for granted (like Google, eBay, Paypal. ...etc) didn't exist or were in their infancy. At first, me and my friends were actually going to design something like Lucy.

      To have a better idea of me or get some ideas, go to : http://www.mlongo.net

      There are descriptions of what I use but there are plenty more - just because I don't use them, it doesn't mean they don't exist or are not good.

      As a final note, the software that Stephen Hawking uses is going to be released as open source......I think that he is the hero of most disabled computer users - he has quite extreme disabilities, yet still manages to use a computer.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 26, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Thank you for the insights, Manuel! Will consult your site when I update the Best Windows Software article.

  11. Najib Dajani
    February 17, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Admittedly, I only skimmed the article. However, I think you neglected the shortcuts I use the most to move windows between monitors.

    I use WIN+left/right arrow keys to snap windows to exactly half the screen (very useful when you want to copy files between 2 folders). Also, if you keep pressing the shortcut, it will quickly move a window to the other monitor.

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      I don't know how I missed these ones; they're extremely helpful for working with two windows at once. Thanks for reminding me!

  12. Evan
    February 17, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Didn't know about alt + home. It might be useful, because I remove the home button from my browsers. I use ctrl + 1-8 frequently. It is actually alt + 1-8 on Linux.

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      I typically just have my homepage as Google or DuckDuckGo, which I already have an icon for on my bookmarks bar. So I don't really use the Home icon, though I can see why a lot of people do.

  13. Ethan
    February 16, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Good article one to add WIN + SHIFT + left/right arrows will move windows between monitors can be useful sometimes.

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      Even with all these shortcuts, here's one I missed! Just tried it and it works great; thanks for letting me know!

  14. Jon
    February 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Is there a screen window capture combination in Windows 8.1 like Alt-Printscrn from XP?

    • Ethan
      February 17, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Hi Jon,
      there are lots of ways to take a screen cap in win 8.1 the way you are talking about doing it I THINK is to hit print screen on your keyboard and then copy that in to paint to save it as a picture.
      BUT windows will do the saving part for you if you like WIN + Print Screen will take the screen cap and then save it in you pictures folder in a folder called screenshots.
      I hope that helps.
      also a small lists of other was to do it as well.

      https://www.google.com/search?q=Alt-Printscrn+from+XP%3F&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&channel=fs&trackid=sp-006#q=screen+capture+windows+8.1

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      I'd recommend using the Snipping Tool. It's built into Windows and is easy to use, plus it cuts out the step of capturing everything on your screen and having to edit it in Paint.

    • Jon
      February 18, 2015 at 12:14 am

      Thank you both. I found I had problems with a USB-PS/2 keyboard/mouse Y-cable and replaced it with a different one that worked properly with my good old keyboard. Since Alt-PrintScrn is in that list (from the search link), I just tried it, and it worked normally. I had thought the shortcut had been left out, but it was probably the same hardware problem. And I now know about the snipping tool too. Thanks.

  15. Davin Peterson
    February 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Microsoft dropped Windows 7's Flip 3D in Windows 8,

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! I don't use Windows 8 so I wasn't able to double-check this.

  16. Alan
    February 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Great article, and website!

    • Ben S
      February 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Thanks Alan! I hope you come back to visit us soon - my colleagues publish awesome articles every day!

  17. Jeff
    February 16, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Super helpful article. Thanks!

    • Ben S
      February 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for reading.

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