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The Most Useful Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

by on February 08, 2017
in Software & Games, Computers and Software, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101, Time Savers :: 14 comments

Windows may be designed for touchscreens, but thanks to a slew of keyboard shortcuts it's easy to bypass touch and use a just keyboard and mouse. These shortcuts let you do things on your computer by using keys instead of clicking on drop down menus and can save you a bit of time and effort.

Here are some good ones to remember, along with several important carry-overs you may remember from earlier versions of Windows. These are the ones we believe are useful, of the dozens and dozens available, to the broadest range of users. 

Must-Know general Windows shortcuts

Shortcuts when editing documents

Ctrl + A — Select all items in a document or window

Ctrl + C — Copies selected text or item

Ctrl + X — Cuts selected text or item

Ctrl + V — Pastes text or item on clipboard to your cursor location or designated file location

Ctrl + D — Delete selected text or item

Ctrl + Z — Undo something

Ctrl + Y — Redo something

Ctrl + B — Turn on or turn off bold

Ctrl + I — Turn on or turn off italics

Ctrl + U — Turn on or turn off underline

Shift with any arrow key — Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text within a document

Ctrl + Shift with any arrow key — Selects blocks of text by paragraph. Keep holding down first two buttons and each time you hit the arrow key successively more paragraphs are highlighted.

Ctrl + Shift with End key — Selects all text from the cursor to the end of the document.

Ctrl + Shift with Start key — Selects all text from the cursor to the beginning of the document.

Ctrl + Right arrow — Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word.

Ctrl + Left arrow — Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word.

Ctrl + Down arrow — Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph.

Ctrl + Up arrow — Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph.

Ctrl + S — Save a document.

Ctrl + P — Print a document.

Shortcuts for navigating the desktop, apps and settings

Ctrl + Shift + Esc — Opens the task manager.

Ctrl+plus (+) or Ctrl+minus (-) — Zoom in or out of a large number of items, like apps pinned to the Start screen

Alt + Tab — Switch between open apps (except desktop apps in Windows 8)

Windows logo key‌ +Tab — Cycle through open apps (except desktop apps in Windows 8)

Shift + Delete — Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first

Windows logo key + L — Lock your PC or switch users

Windows logo key + M — Minimize all windows

Windows logo key + Shift + M — Restore minimized windows on the desktop

Ctrl + Alt with any arrow key — Rotate entire screen in direction of arrow key. Helpful for viewing photos or videos that aren't right-side up.

Windows 10 shortcuts

Windows logo key + A —  Access the Action Center menu where you can view your notifications and access commonly used settings like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Windows logo key + I — Access Windows Settings

Windows logo key + C  — Open Cortana in listening mode 

Windows logo key + S —  Search for any file or an app installed on your computer

Windows 8 shortcuts

You can find the full set of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts on, but these are the important ones.

Windows key + C – Opens the Charms bar, the menu that pops out from the right of your screen that gives you quick access to Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. If you use this shortcut within an app it will open app-specific commands.

Windows key‌ + F — Open the Search charm to search files

Windows key‌ + S — Opens the Search charm to search everywhere (including your files, settings and the Web).

Windows key + H — Opens the Share menu for the app you’re using. For example, you could quickly email a listing in the eBay app to your husband before bidding, save a photo or video from your camera app to Evernote or SkyDrive, or share an interesting story from a news app on Facebook through the People tool.

Windows key + I — Opens the Settings charm, which includes often-used functions such as Volume, WiFi Networks and Power.

Windows key + D — Pulls up or hides the Desktop, the mode that most resembles older Windows operating systems. If you’re accustomed to having side-by-side windows open at once—say, Chrome alongside Word—this mode lets you do it.

Windows key + X — Calls up a menu of advanced system tools, such as the Control Panel, Command Prompt, Task Manager and File Explorer.

Ctrl + either the plus (+) or minus (-) signs — Zooms in or out. This is especially helpful to organize the apps pinned to your Start screen. By zooming out you can move an entire block of them at once, instead of app by app.

Windows key + tab—Lets you toggle between all the apps you have open. Keep in mind Microsoft now treats the desktop as an app, so if you’re inside a non-desktop app such as Ebay or Skype and you use this shortcut you can quickly toggle to the desktop (if you have it open).

Alt + F4 — Closes an app you’re using. Windows 8 newbies flipping between apps might find themselves with lots of apps unintentionally kept open. Try out the camera app, for example, and it will stay open if you navigate somewhere else. This shortcut lets you simply shut it down when you’re done using it.

Windows key + the period (.) key — Snaps or docks the app you’re using to the right or left 20% of your screen. Press once for right alignment, twice for left alignment and three times to go back to full screen.

Updated 2/8/2017

[image credit: Surface Pro 4 showing Cortana via BigStockPhoto

Discussion loading


Perfect timing!

From Denys on March 06, 2013 :: 11:42 am

Just got Windows8 and I’m operating on a traditional PC.  And yes it takes a little bit of getting use to.  Your list of key shortcuts just made my day!



Do you have shortcut keys for

From Cle001 on March 06, 2013 :: 11:43 am

Do you have shortcut keys for the diacritical marks used in other languages on certain letters?

Like saute, etc.



Diacritical Marks & Other Special Characters

From Charles Heineke on February 06, 2015 :: 1:08 am

Here’s a good resource for Diacritical Marks as well as special symbols you can get by using the Alt key plus tapping in numbers from the numeric key pad, like Alt+0169 for the Copyright symbol (©). Hold down the Alt key while you’re tapping the four digit number, and then release the Alt key to get your new character. Another one you may need some time is Alt+0162 to create the cent sign (¢). The numbers must be entered on the numeric keypad with Num Lock turned on.



Create your own with AutoHotKey

From Ernesto Colina on March 06, 2013 :: 11:52 am

With a little effort, you can create your own “Key Shortcuts” and even override the ones defined in Windows with AutoHotKey, which BTW is free.



Windows Key + Q

From Andy on March 06, 2013 :: 1:17 pm

Opens the Apps Page in Miniature Icons. Also lists your installed programs. Also shows a search panel on the right hand side for Apps.


More general Windows

From Cary Gordon on March 06, 2013 :: 3:34 pm

I use Windows Key + R quite a lot to bring up Windows’ RUN dialog.
Also Windows Key + D to show the Desktop.



Windows Key + Arrows

From Wes R on March 07, 2013 :: 7:47 am

One of my favorites. Use the down arrow to take a window out of maximized (restore), again to minimize it. Up will maximize the window.
Use left and right to cover only half the screen. Then do the opposite arrow for another window to have them side-by-side
For multiple monitors, Windows Key + Shift + Left/Right will move a window from one monitor to the other.



You're Amazing

From Bevin Kacon on February 14, 2017 :: 9:20 pm

You just saved my life.



End key

From Farrah on November 03, 2014 :: 4:15 am


I have a new HP with Windows 8. I am getting used to everything (albeit slowly) and stopped hating all the changes EXCEPT one. On my old computer (windows vista) the End Key would go to the end of the line. On this new computer it moves one space to the right. I know that if I hit CTRL + End it will go to the end of the WORD, but I don’t want that. I want home to go to the beginning of the line and End to end of line. Can someone out there help?




End of Line Key

From Andy Prakken on November 03, 2014 :: 11:50 am

Check out this link, it may have what you are looking for.  I did not check the whole list.

Hope this will be of use.  If not, go to Google and type in End of Line Shortcuts, There are quite a few listed there. Andy



Thank you! The keys I

From Farrah on November 03, 2014 :: 5:43 pm

Thank you! The keys I need are FN + END, which is not what I’m used to, but better than nothing.

Is there any way of going into the computer and changing the key functions to make the END key go to the end of the line?



More Windows Logo Key Shortcuts

From Charles Heineke on February 06, 2015 :: 1:01 am

Windows Logo Key + Pause/Break Key brings up Device Manager or system information.

In Windows 7, you can tile two applications vertically, side by side, so you can easily compare two documents, copy and paste info from one to the other, etc. To use, click somewhere in the application you want on the left half of the screen and press Windows Logo Key + Left Arrow Key. Then click somewhere in the application you want on the right half of the screen and press Windows Logo Key + Right Arrow Key. It will dock on the right half of the screen.

You can maximize either window or resize either or both to leave the tiled look.



Erroneous instruction in your list

From Charles Heineke on April 11, 2016 :: 10:53 pm

Your Key in the list above: “Ctrl + Shift with Start key — Selects all text from the cursor to the beginning of the document.” should have been Ctrl + Shift + Home key. Its opposite, which you have correctly, is Ctrl + Shift + End key.

I’ve been using these two shortcuts for decades.



Use Your PC with Your Keys

From Drew Sherman on February 11, 2017 :: 8:16 pm

Throwing this out for any who are interested. Think you’re as fast & efficient as you can be on the PC? Think again. Take the Challenge to see how you compare at Have fun! wink


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