Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know

By Reid Goldsborough 

There are lots of little (and sometimes not so little) tips and techniques that can shave a few of seconds off frequently used procedures or maybe even completely change how you work.

No compilation like this can possibly be comprehensive, but here are a few Windows tips and tricks worth doing if you're not already. If you're a Mac user, a good source of shortcuts is

  • Lock your computer: Windows-L locks it, requiring your password to resume, which can be handy if you don't want a coworker or roommate posting for you on Facebook.
  • Shut down: Program the Power button to shut down your PC. Press the Windows key and begin typing Power Options. Once there, select "Choose what the power buttons do," then for "When I press the power button" select "Shut down."
  • Launch a program: Pressing the Windows key is a quick way to launch programs. Begin typing the name of the program until it's displayed. An even quicker way is to create a keyboard shortcut. Find the program on the desktop or in the Start menu. Press the right mouse button, select Properties, click in the field after "Shortcut key," and press a keyboard shortcut such as Ctrl-Alt and the first letter of the program's name.
  • Move among programs: Alt-Tab moves you forward from one open program to another. Repeating reverses this. Holding down the Alt key as you repeatedly hit Tab shows you which programs are running and lets you move to the one you want to work with.
  • Close a program: Alt-F4 closes the program you're in. Ctrl-F4 or Ctrl-W closes just the tab or window you're in.
  • Go to the desktop: Windows-D hides all open programs and takes you to the desktop. Repeating reverses this.
  • Minimize or maximize the window: Windows-Down Arrow minimizes the window you're in, while Windows-Up Arrow maximizes it.
  • Move or copy files: To move a file from one folder to another, open File Explorer twice, creating two instances. In one File Explorer instance, select the file and drag it to the folder where you want it using the other instance. To copy it, hold down the Ctrl key while doing this. Or you can drag with the right mouse key and select copy.
  • Batch rename files: In File Explorer, select the files you want to rename, right click the first one, and type a name. File Explorer renames the rest with a 1, 2, and so on. To select all the files, press Ctrl-A.
  • Save a document: This is the most basic trick of all. If you don't want to lose a document you're working on, save it periodically. The fastest way is Ctrl-S. If you're working off the cloud or on a smartphone, your files automatically are saved for you.
  • Delete a word: Within a document, Ctrl-Backspace deletes the entire word behind the cursor.
  • Move to the next word: Ctrl-Right Arrow moves one word ahead, while Ctrl-Left Arrow moves one word behind.
  • Undo a mistake: Ctrl-Z not only undoes your most recent typing, it also can bring a file back if you accidentally deleted it or moved it where you don't want it.
  • Paste without formatting: If you've copied text and don't want the original formatting, hit Ctrl-Shift-V instead of Ctrl-V. To select from a menu of paste options, hit Ctrl-Alt-V or press the right mouse button and look under Paste Options.
  • Insert a symbol: No matter what program you're in, you can access Character Map for symbols such as copyright and registered trademark by pressing the Windows key and beginning to type Character Map. Find the symbol you want, click Copy, return to your program, and paste it in.
  • Type in a site's address: From within your browser, F6, Ctrl-L, and Alt-D all take you to the address bar.
  • Navigate webpages: Hitting the spacebar scrolls down a full screen, while Shift-Space bar scrolls up. Your mouse's scroll wheel is excellent at taking you down or up in smaller increments.
  • Make text more readable: Ctrl-Plus magnifies the webpage you're on, while Ctrl-Minus reverses this. To reset a page to its original magnification, press Ctrl-Zero.
  • Move among browser windows: Ctrl-T opens up a new tab, Ctrl-Tab moves you forward among open windows, and Ctrl-Shift-Tab moves you backward.