When compared to using the mouse or browsing a menu, a single keyboard shortcut saves you time. This may not seem like much, but add all of those saved minutes up to over a week or a month, and you’ve gained a significant amount of time.
That is why it is critical to be familiar with as many operating system shortcuts as possible. Try using a keyboard command a few times to see how beneficial it may be. Here are 20 of the most important keyboard shortcuts for a Windows PC.
Basic shortcut keys
Ctrl+Z will undo your last action regardless of the software you’re using. This one is a lifesaver if you’ve accidentally erased a file or replaced an entire paragraph in Microsoft Word.
Ctrl+W is another universal key that will close whatever you’re currently viewing. Close the File Explorer window, browser tab, or open picture file without looking for the close button.
Select all (Ctrl+A)
This command allows you to highlight all the content in a document or pick all the files in a folder. Ctrl+A can save you time that you would otherwise spend clicking and dragging your mouse.
Alt+Tab (Switch applications)
This baby is one of the oldest Windows shortcuts, and it may be incredibly beneficial when you’re running many apps. Just hit Alt+Tab and you’ll be able to fast flick through all your open windows.
Alt+F4 (Close applications)
Alt+F4 is another old-school shortcut that shuts down current programs so you don’t have to go through the hassle of finding their on-screen menus. With this command, you won’t lose any unsaved work since it will prompt you to save your documents before closing them.
Windows navigation shortcuts
Win+D (Toggles the display of the desktop)
This keyboard combination minimizes all open windows, allowing you to see your home screen. If you keep rows and rows of files and shortcuts on your desktop, Win+D will enable you to access them in minutes.
Windows+left or Win+right arrow (Snap windows)
Snapping a window just opens it on one side of the screen (left or right, depending on which arrow you touch) (left or right, depending on which arrow you hit). This allows you to compare two windows side by side while also organizing your workplace.
Win+Tab (Open the Task view)
This shortcut, like Alt+Tab, allows you to switch programs, but it does so by launching an updated Windows application switcher. The most recent version displays thumbnails of all open apps on the screen.
Tab and Shift+Tab (Navigate between choices by going back and forth)
These actions advance you ahead (Tab) or backward (Shift+Tab) through the available options when you enter a dialog box, saving you a click. If you’re working with a dialog box with many tabs, use Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab to cycle through them.
Ctrl+Esc (Brings up the Start menu)
If you don’t have a Windows key on your keyboard, this shortcut will bring up the Start menu. Otherwise, a short touch of the Windows key will suffice. You may then use the cursor keys, Tab, and Shift+Tab to traverse the Start menu while remaining on the keyboard.
Advanced Windows shortcut
F2 (Change the name)
Simply choose a file and press F2 to rename it. This command also allows you to modify text in other programs; for example, in Microsoft Excel, hit F2 to edit the contents of the cell you’re in.
Take a peek at F5 while you’re investigating the function key row. This key will refresh a page, which is useful when using File Explorer or your web browser. Following the refresh, you will see the most recent version of the page you are seeing.
Win+L (Lock your computer)
Keep your computer safe from any prying eyes by employing this keyboard combination right before you step away. Win+L locks the system and returns you to the login page, requiring any snoops to enter your user account password to regain access.
Win+I (Open Settings)
When you wish to change the way Windows operates, use this keyboard shortcut to open the Settings dialog. Alternatively, press Win+A to bring up the Action Center panel, which displays notifications and gives you quick access to specific settings.
Win+S (Windows Search)
The Windows taskbar has a search box that allows you to ask Cortana questions or sift through your programs and stored files. Use this keyboard shortcut to get right to it, then enter your search term.
Win+PrtScn (Save a screenshot)
There’s no need to launch a separate screenshot tool: Win+PrtScn captures the entire screen and stores it as a PNG file in a Screenshots folder within your Pictures folder. Windows will also copy the picture to the clipboard at the same moment. If you don’t want to capture the entire screen, the Alt+PrtScn combination will take a screenshot of just the active window, but it will just transfer the image to the clipboard, thus no saved file will be created.
Ctrl+Shift+Esc (Open the Task Manager)
The Task Manager provides you with access to everything that is running on your Windows system, from open apps to background activities. This shortcut will open the Task Manager regardless of the application you are currently running.
Win+Ctrl+D (Add a new virtual desktop)
Virtual desktops provide auxiliary displays on which you may store parts of your active apps and windows, providing you with more workspace. This shortcut helps you construct one. After that, click the Task View icon to the right of the taskbar search box to switch between desktops. Alternatively, you may use shortcuts: Win+Ctrl+arrow to cycle among your open desktops, and Win+Ctrl+F4 to shut the one you’re now viewing and move your open windows and programs to the next available virtual desktop.
Win+X (Open the hidden menu)
Windows features a secret Start menu called the Quick Link menu that allows you to access all of the system’s important locations. From here, you may move straight to Device Manager to inspect and adjust any devices, like printers or keyboards, that are currently attached to the system. You may also rapidly launch the PowerShell command prompt to access sophisticated Windows commands.