Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to keep things moving when you're
using your computer, and they let you perform tasks without lifting
your hands from the keyboard. These are some of the basics that you
should know--at least if you want to cut down on the number of times
you reach for the mouse every day.
Alt Del is the mother of all keyboard shortcuts, affectionately known
as the "three-fingered salute," since it's so useful when your Windows
box locks up. Pressing the combo once (simultaneously) opens the
Windows Task Manager. (From within the Task Manager, you can force-quit
a crashed program, see a list of processes or applications running on
your machine, check performance parameters such as how hard your CPU is
working, or track your network usage.) Is your machine totally locked
up? Reach over, grab the mouse and click Shut Down.
S saves the file you're working on. Ever lost your homework, a
spreadsheet at work, or some video you've been editing? Hit Ctrl S
(simultaneously) to save. Hit it early and often! (Want to open a file
from within the program you're running? Ctrl O universally opens the
- Ctrl C copies text, files, or
icons that you've highlighted, Ctrl V pastes them where you point your
mouse (hey, you can't completely eliminate using it), and Ctrl X cuts
whatever you've highlighted out of the document (or folder, photo,
movie clip, or whatever it is you're working on). Ctrl A highlights the
entire file you're working on or everything in a folder or on your
- Alt Tab lets you switch on the fly between
all of your open windows. Press the combination once to switch to your
last open window or multiple times to switch to any other open window.
Holding down Alt Tab will bring up a system window that shows you what
apps are running and which one you're switching to.
- Ever wonder why almost every Windows program has the F in File underlined, not to mention the E in Edit,
and so on so forth across the top of the Window? Hit Alt that letter to
open that particular menu; you can either use the arrow keys to move
around within that window, or keep your eyes peeled for more underlined
letters to use more Alt key combinations.
- The Windows
key (the one that looks like the Windows logo, or a flag) R opens the
Run dialog. From here, you can launch a command-line window by typing cmd,
but you can do a lot more. You can, for example, paste in a folder
path, such as C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My
Documents\Expenses, and Windows will open it automatically. You can
also use the Run dialog to open Microsoft applications such as Word,
Excel, or Notepad. Just type winword to launch Word, type excel to launch Excel, and notepad to launch Notepad.
- Windows E launches Windows Explorer, defaulting to My Computer.
- F2 renames a selected file or folder. (This is so much easier than right-clicking!)
- F3 launches Search if you're on the desktop or in a folder.
M minimizes all open windows, and Windows D shows your desktop. (These
results look similar, but they're slightly different; Windows M
minimizes all windows that support the command, while Windows D
actually raises the desktop to the top.) This is a great one for when
the boss pops up in your cubicle. Once the boss gone, hit Shift Windows
M to bring up your minimized windows, or Windows D to drop your desktop
back down again.