Windows Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide
Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp

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 previously rounded up some keyboard shortcuts, but today we’re here to produce the ultimate guide on Windows shortcuts.

Unlock The "Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101" Cheat Sheet Today!

Enter your Email
This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download Windows Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

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!

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 Browse Faster and Better with Mouse Gestures Browse Faster and Better with Mouse Gestures Can't remember keyboard shortcuts? Prefer using the mouse at all times? You'll love what mouse gestures can do for your browser workflow. Read More , 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 Learn To Navigate Windows Without A Mouse, Keyboard Or Screen Learn To Navigate Windows Without A Mouse, Keyboard Or Screen You just spent hours labouring over an important document when your keyboard dies on you. Would you know how to save your work, exit programs, and shut down your computer? We'll show you. Read More at all; you could get around with just a keyboard Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone You might know lots of keyboard shortcuts, but did you know you could get around Windows without your mouse? Here's how. Read More if you had to.

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 How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word An annotated bibliography is an important part of any research document. Let's see how to create one with the help of Microsoft Word. Read More 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.

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, 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 The Best Ways to Learn All the Keyboard Shortcuts You Will Ever Need The Best Ways to Learn All the Keyboard Shortcuts You Will Ever Need There are many keyboard shortcuts you aren't using. We bring you all the right resources to teach you everything you need to know about keyboard shortcuts. Memorize keyboard shortcuts for instant productivity. Read More , 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!

A Few Guidelines

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. We’ll make a note 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.

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 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 go to the Start screen with this key – though you can easily bring back the old Start menu with some free tools Get A Modern Start Menu For Windows 7 & 8 Get A Modern Start Menu For Windows 7 & 8 A new Start Menu can be a good way to bring something fresh to any version of Windows. This article looks at creative Start Menu alternatives and replacements that work on both Windows 7 and... Read More .

Probably the most ubiquitous of our study are the shortcuts that deal with text editing:

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.


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, 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 10 Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Programs for Newbie Photographers 10 Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Programs for Newbie Photographers Some photos only look their best after a bit of editing. If Photoshop and Lightroom seem too complex for you, check out these easy-to-use alternatives. Read More or formatting a document. Its counterpart, CTRL + Y, will redo a previously undone action. Use these two regularly and your mistakes will disappear 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.

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, 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 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 How to Find and Replace Words in Multiple Files How to Find and Replace Words in Multiple Files What do you do if you have to replace a single word in dozens or even thousands, of text files? You keep calm and download Notepad++ or Replace Text to do the job in seconds. 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. Note that in Windows 10, WIN + TAB will open the virtual desktop screen (see the below section on Windows 10 shortcuts).


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.

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 at position 1 and you can switch back to it at any time!

If you’re using two monitors to form an extended desktop, 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.


Open File Explorer & System Properties

Using Windows Explorer 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 What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? Do you know whether your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit and does it even matter? Yes it does! Let's take a look at where these terms come from and what they mean for you. Read More . Pressing WIN + PAUSE will bring up the System Properties panel with basic information about your PC that you can share with whomever 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.


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 The 6 Best Methods to Lock Your Windows PC The 6 Best Methods to Lock Your Windows PC Locking your computer is essential in preventing unattended access. Here are several great ways to do so in any version of Windows. 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 tips on the Task Manager.


Windows 8/8.1 Shortcuts

Windows 8 and 8.1 (you shouldn’t use Windows 8 any longer Why to Upgrade Windows at the End of Extended Support Why to Upgrade Windows at the End of Extended Support Eventually, support for every Windows version expires, leaving PCs full of holes, entry points for malware, and opportunities for hackers. Windows 8 recently reached end of support status - we show you why and how... Read More as Microsoft is not supporting it) 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.

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 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 is a good plan.


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.

Windows 7 Mobility Center

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

Snap Windows

You can snap windows to either side of your screen 7 Ways to Organize and Control Your Windows Desktop 7 Ways to Organize and Control Your Windows Desktop Your Windows desktop is more versatile than you think. You can utilize a number of tricks and tools to keep things tidy and get things done quicker. Read More for dual-pane working. 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 the current version of Windows If You Don't Upgrade to Windows 10, This Will Happen If You Don't Upgrade to Windows 10, This Will Happen After July 29, Windows 10 will no longer be a free upgrade. Here's what that means for users of each version of Windows. Read More , and makes up for the ill-received Windows 8. It contains all-new shortcuts that weren’t around in 7 or 8. If you don’t have Windows 10 yet, download it now!


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, but Windows 10 runs them natively An Introduction to Virtual Desktop & Task View in Windows 10 An Introduction to Virtual Desktop & Task View in Windows 10 Windows 10's new Virtual Desktop and Task View features are quality-of-life enhancements that you shouldn't overlook. Here's why they are useful and how you can start benefiting from them right now. Read More .

  • 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 closes your active desktop (remember that ALT + F4 closes open windows, so this is the same idea), and WIN + CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT will toggle between your open desktops.

Open Settings App

Windows 10 no longer contains a Charms bar. Thus, WIN + C has no function in Windows 10. WIN + I, which previously opened the Charms bar Settings, now opens the Settings app, which is a modern Control Panel Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel The Control Panel is being decommissioned. In Windows 10, the Settings app has adopted most of its features in a more stylish and mobile-friendly interface. Is that really necessary? Read More .

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, you must enable them. 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: Essential Windows CMD Commands You Should Know Essential Windows CMD Commands You Should Know Essential Windows CMD Commands You Should Know The bleak interface of the command prompt is your gateway to advanced Windows tools. We show you essential CMD commands that will let you access them. 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 Microsoft Edge This Is What Microsoft Edge Is Good For This Is What Microsoft Edge Is Good For Microsoft Edge is way better than Internet Explorer. It's time to become browser agnostic. We'll show you the unique features that make Edge worth using, even if it's not your main browser. Read More , these shortcuts will get you around with less clicks.

Switch and Open Tabs

  • CTRL + 1-8 will switch instantly to that numbered tab, just like WIN + 1-0 switches to programs on the taskbar. Also, CTRL + 9 jumps to the last tab even if you have too many tabs open.
  • CTRL + T will open a new tab; in combination with powerful browser omniboxes 11 Quick Tricks To Become A Chrome Omnibox Power User 11 Quick Tricks To Become A Chrome Omnibox Power User Do you want to become an Omnibox power user and save plenty of time and keystrokes? All you need are a few good extensions and a little knowledge of how to tweak the search settings.... Read More , you can instantly start typing a search term after using this shortcut.
    • If you need to re-open a tab you just closed (this probably happens on a daily basis), CTRL + SHIFT + T makes it reappear in a flash.

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 of using. When you need to quickly refresh a web page, F5 will do it for you. To override the browser’s cache 3 Hidden Switches That Clear the Chrome Cache Instantly 3 Hidden Switches That Clear the Chrome Cache Instantly For optimal browser performance, you should clear the cache on a regular basis. Here are three hidden switches that let you do so without interrupting your workflow. 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 4 Ways to Brighten Up Your Mozilla Firefox Start Page 4 Ways to Brighten Up Your Mozilla Firefox Start Page You can customize Firefox down to the tiniest detail. That includes giving the start page and new tab page a makeover and making them more useful. Read More , you’ll want to visit it whenever you can. ALT + HOME will bring you back where the heart is.


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 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 Are You Nearsighted or Farsighted? Tips to Make Windows More Accessible for Young & Old Are You Nearsighted or Farsighted? Tips to Make Windows More Accessible for Young & Old Computers use print that's too small, your eyesight changes, you get headaches, and the computer gets called a lot of dirty names. Consult this guide to Windows Accessibility tools for some stress relief! 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 “”, 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 Creative Ways You Need to Try to Organize Your Bookmarks Creative Ways You Need to Try to Organize Your Bookmarks But, what really is the best way to save and organize bookmarks? Here are a few creative ways to do so, depending on your style and browser use. Read More , and CTRL + SHIFT + DEL opens the prompt to clear the browsing history.

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.


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, it’s time to make your own shortcuts 12+ Custom Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for the Geek in You 12+ Custom Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for the Geek in You Windows includes hundreds of keyboard shortcuts, but you can create your own shortcuts to nearly anything you'd like. Here's how to customize your Windows shortcuts. Read More . 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.


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 giving the powerful AutoHotKey 10+ Cool AutoHotkey Scripts & How to Make Your Own 10+ Cool AutoHotkey Scripts & How to Make Your Own AutoHotkey is an easy way to add shortcuts to your computer. You can download ready-to-use scripts or write your own. We show you to become more productive with automated hotkey tasks. Read More  a shot. It lets you do nearly whatever you want with automation.

Though it’s probably not as fast, the Run menu (WIN + R) has some useful commands Everything You Must Know About The Run Dialog & Most Useful Commands Everything You Must Know About The Run Dialog & Most Useful Commands Are you using the easiest way to save time on Windows? It's the Run dialog. We show you how to quickly create custom commands to open any program or file in two easy steps. Read More , too.

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!



For most, this is just a Windows annoyance The 6 Most Annoying Windows Features and How to Fix Them The 6 Most Annoying Windows Features and How to Fix Them Windows has plenty of issues. Here are annoyances every Windows users has to live with, and how to make them better. 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 are even more that aren’t as universally useful. And we didn’t even discuss how to start using the massive list How to Find Every Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcut You Could Ever Need How to Find Every Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcut You Could Ever Need Finding a complete list of keyboard shortcuts can be a chore. Let Word automatically generate a list of all of its shortcuts! You'll find keyboard shortcuts for other Office applications, too. Read More of Microsoft Office shortcuts 60 Essential Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcuts for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 60 Essential Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcuts for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Hundreds of keyboard shortcuts are available in Office, but these are the most important ones you should know because they will save you a lot of time. Read More !

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”ll be 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. How to Add & Remove Entries from the Windows Right-Click Menu How to Add & Remove Entries from the Windows Right-Click Menu Everyone loves shortcuts. Meanwhile, your context menu is cluttered with entries you never touch. We'll show you how to customize the right-click menu with shortcuts you'll actually want to use. 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 us 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

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Background
    March 26, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    The linked PDF at the beginning is wrong. It gives me a list of cmd.exe commands, rather than keyboard shortcuts.

    • Ben Stegner
      March 27, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for letting us know about this. I've corrected the link and the proper PDF is now available at the start!

  2. Carlton
    March 23, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    I made a custom keyboard shortcut by creating a shortcut on my desktop using "C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /L" as the target and " Ctrl + Alt + ` " as the shortcut key.

    When the shortcut key is on the desktop it works fine. I want to keep my desktop uncluttered, so I tried moving it to another location (My Documents), and it no longer works. Are there specific locations that are required for this to work (i.e. more than just the Desktop)?

    Great article - thanks for putting it all together!

  3. William Mestman
    December 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    I can't find a reference for this anywhere. Windows key + CTRL + C on my system toggles the display between color and black and white (well, shades of gray). Both my whole screens, on both my monitors at the same time. What's with that?? I have Win10 Home version 1709, OS build 16299.125.

    • Ben Stegner
      January 2, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Well, I just learned a new keyboard shortcut! Looks like this is an accessibility feature to help those with visual impairments. You can find the appropriate option at Settings > Ease of Access > Color & high contrast. It's set to grayscale by default, but you can also change it to invert colors, or a set of colors for colorblind people.

      Thanks for bringing this up; I might mention it in a separate article!

  4. DuhPhewU
    July 19, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Does anyone know of any Text Editors for DOS (3.3 &/or 5.0 and up) with Keyboard Shortcuts that are the same or mostly the same as those in Microsoft Word (for Windows)?

  5. 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


      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?

  6. 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.

  7. Anonymous
    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.

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

    Have you seen the KickStarter for KeyMouse?

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

    Great guide, thank you.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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. :)

  13. 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!

  14. 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 ( 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 :

      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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

    • 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.