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How-To Geek

20 Windows Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Know

Mastering the keyboard will not only increase your navigation speed but it can also help with wrist fatigue. Here are some lesser known Windows shortcuts to help you become a keyboard ninja.

Image by Remko van Dokkum

Global Windows Shortcuts

Win+1, 2, 3, 4, etc. will launch each program in your taskbar. It is helpful then to keep your most used programs at the beginning of your task bar so you can open them one right after another. This also works in Windows Vista for the quick launch icons.

Win+Alt+1, 2, 3, etc. will open the jump list for each program in the taskbar. You can then use your arrows to select which jump list option you want to open.

Win+T will cycle through taskbar programs. This is similar to just hovering over the item with your mouse but you can launch the program with Space or Enter.

Win+Home minimizes all programs except current the window. This is similar to the Aero shake and can be disabled with the same registry key.

Win+B selects the system tray which isn’t always useful but can come in very handy if your mouse stops working.

Win+Up/Down maximizes and restores down the current window so long as that window has the option to be maximized. It is exactly the same as clicking on the middle button on your windows.

Alt+Esc is like Alt+Tab but switches windows in the order they were opened and does not have the fancy window preview overlay.

Win+Pause/Break will open your system properties window. This can be helpful if you need to see the name of a computer or simple system statistics.

Ctrl+Esc can be used to open the start menu but will not work as a Windows key replacement for other shortcuts.

Ctrl+Shift+Esc will open the task manager without needing to hit Ctrl+Alt+Del first.

Alt+Space will open the window system menu which can be used to maximize (x), minimize (n), close (c), or move (m) the window which can be especially helpful if your window is somehow off-screen. This shortcut can also be helpful with windows that don’t close with the Alt+F4 shortcut such as the command window.

Windows Explorer Shortcuts

Here are handy shortcuts built into Windows Explorer which may have similar features in other programs too.

Alt+Up will navigate up one folder level since the up arrow on the menu bar was removed in Windows Vista. Alternatively, you can also make Backspace go up one folder level with a handy AutoHotKey script.

Shift+F10 opens the contextual or “right click” menu for a file/folder. This can be very handy for speed especially if you know which option you want to select. Look for an underlined letter in each option to know which letter you can press for faster access.

Shift+Del deletes a file without sending it to the recycle bin because who wants to empty their recycle bin anyway?

Ctrl+Shift+N creates a new folder in your current directory.

Alt+Enter opens the file properties so you can view file size, sharing settings, and creation date.

F2 renames a file or folder.

F3 will open explorer and select the search bar. If you already have an explorer window open it will highlight the search bar. In some programs it will also open the search dialog to search within that program.


F6 cycles objects in the current window. In explorer this will cycle between the location bar, options bar, left pane, and right pane. It also works with varying success in other programs.

F10 toggles the file menu in explorer.

Justin is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 12/6/10

Comments (101)

  1. Allen

    Isn’t it WINDOWS + Pause/Break to bring open System Properties?

  2. Alex Spooner

    Alt+Pause/Break => Win+Pause/Break

    /* I tried it on Windows 7 Professional */

  3. pitman

    Don’t forget about Shift+Tab which does the opposite of the Tab action (can it be called next item ?) and
    when copying multiple files and you get the “Overwrite” dialog Holding the Shift button while clicking “No” will make it “No to All”.

    The only thing I didn’t know was the Shift+F10, it could have saved me a lot of hassle.
    Thanks !

  4. ColdEmbrace

    about that F10 so does my alt key :p

  5. Eric

    wow, I knew about Ctrl+Shift+Esc and do that second nature, but I had no idea about Ctrl+Shift+N, that would have saved me so much time all these years having to right-click to create new folders. It was especially awful when I would have to create 10 or so subfolders…

  6. Darrell Duncan

    The shortcut to bring up system properties is Windows Key+Pause/Break, not ALT+Pause/Break

  7. Ali

    haha,i knew all of them in the first place xD

  8. Jason

    Don’t forget about the new Win 7 (possibly Vista) Windows Explorer shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+N = Create New Folder. Perhaps one of my favorites!

  9. ReynaldoRiv

    Bah! You’re missing the greatest set of short-cuts of them all, the Japanese IME quickswitch shortcuts!

    Alt+Shift== Switch between English and Japanese input methods
    Shift+Caps== Switch between Hiragana and Romajii
    Alt+Caps== Katakana
    Ctrl+ Caps== Hiragana

    Even my Japanese professor didn’t know about these. They are IMMENSELY handy and make typing super quick.

  10. john

    Alt+Shift+Num lock opens the virtual mouse. (u can move the mouse using the touchpad arrows)

  11. davv

    ALT also toggles the file menu in explorer/etc

  12. Griff

    Thanks for the tips I’m all about shortcuts on the key board and this a great article keep it up

  13. Justin Garrison

    the Win+Pause/Break shortcut key has been fixed. Woops.

  14. Franklin webber

    Win + Left : move application to left 50% of your screen.*
    Win + Right : move application to right 50% of your screen.*

    * When pressed again it will usually move it to the other side. And again it will move back to the middle. This works brilliantly with multiple monitors as the window moves across the screen. It is a lifesaver also if a window is off screen.

  15. Matthew Guay

    In Windows 7, Win+Space to glance at your desktop … handy if you use gadgets and want to glance at them.

  16. william staten

    U forgot about ctrl+alt+del

  17. Amperand

    As Spooner says,

    “Alt+Pause/Break will open your system properties window. This can be helpful if you need to see the name of a computer or simple system statistics.”

    This needs to be “WIN+Pause/Break” I use this Constantly to check Environment Variables.
    “Alt+Pause/Break” does nothing

  18. rvishu

    CTRL+SHIFT+N came as a pleasant surprise. In the days of DOS would use Norton Commander as file manager and we had the F7 key to create new folder. Always missed that. Thanks

  19. Joyce

    With my Dell 1464 Inspiron laptop, the following keyboard shortcuts do not seem to work:
    Win up/Win down
    Win home
    Alt Pause/Break (this one is because I don’t have a Pause/Break key)

    Am I doing something wrong? I.e., when you say up and down, do you mean the PgDn or PgUp keys instead of the up and down arrow keys?
    The other hints are great — especially Win 1-0 to access the programs in the task bar.

  20. Robert

    In Windows 7, some of the Shortcuts do not function when I tried but most of them worked. Thanks for the tip(s) !!!!

  21. sravan

    hmmm.. i knew this b4 :) but it would be help full for others .. and “win+E ” which will be very useful shortcut for me whn i’m doing my job in laptop

  22. vedette

    Alt+Shift+Num lock opens the virtual mouse.

  23. Roy

    Is there a shortcut to organise all open windows? Say I have 4 open windows and want them pinned to each corner of the screen? Anyone know an easy way to do this?

  24. Hatryst

    Awesome article, Justin… I didn’t know that so many shortcuts exist !
    And @Matthew: Great tip for peeking at the desktop :)

    P.S. I’d suggest this article should be tagged under KEYBOARD NINJA as well…

  25. Ugo

    Great. Most of them don’t work under Win XP, right?

  26. J Gordon

    Has anyone found a way to toggle the Navigation Pane in Windows 7 > Explorer? I use 64-bit and have been unable to find any way (short of the normal way, with about 3 clicks on the menus.) I have also been unsuccessful creating an Autohotkey script to do this (even with AutoScriptWriter)

    THANKS!!

  27. Marco7757

    Win+D minimizes all applications. Useful if you want to start an application from your desktop without minimizing all windows manually.
    Press Win+D a second time and all windows will show up again, in the exact position they were before.

  28. Ginny

    Win+E — opens Windows Explorer. I use this every day.

  29. K.G.

    Using a photo of a Mac keyboard on a post about Windows shortcuts? FAIL.

  30. Brian

    Windows-E opens Windows Explorer – easily remembered, very quick & useful

  31. JohnWL

    Win+E is extremely useful to me also. I use it constantly.

  32. Art€

    Win+E is also my favourite,particularly if you’re using an USB external HD!

    Also Win+R is also handy for opening up the RUN dialogue box to e.g. run MSCONFIG!

  33. Mark Lester Iragana

    I have tried it and it is still slow.

  34. SignDeaf

    How could user able print files and directories list from Windows Explorer?

  35. `gene

    Hmm alt+pause/break causes my Locks indicator to pop-up. That’s strange behavior.

  36. destroyercheetah

    Innnnnnnnnnteresting

  37. Frenchesco

    In a dual monitor setup with Windows 7:
    win+shift+left or win+shift+right will send the current window to the other monitor. Note, if the window is in full screen mode e.g. VLC running in full screen mode, you may need to hit the shortcut twice.

  38. LoverBoy

    Good find but it seems you missed one. Make them 21 with this shortcut , hit “Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow” & see the magic :) Also you can use side arrows & to get normal use up arrow.

  39. MAZE

    Alt+Space only works for me if I use the right ALT key.

  40. Demon Lord

    I have a pdf document for 500 windows and office suit shortcuts. If anyone wants it, tell me.

  41. enigmAZ

    create new folder shortcut doesn’t work :(
    why?
    i always need it..
    thank you for help..

  42. Jim Sheehy

    Yeah, Demon Lord, I want your 500 shortcuts. jsheehy@unitedchannel.com. Jim Sheehy

  43. mac9erd

    Win + L – Log off Windows.

  44. srini

    hi pals! try the below shortcut it is interesting
    win+d it will set back to desktop
    thank u all I’ve learned some useful shortcut to impress my friends
    my most favorite is WIN + PAUSE|BREAK
    thank u have a nice time

  45. George

    Thanks…these are very helpful tips…

  46. Dan

    If you hold down ALT and double click on a file or folder, it will bring up the relevant Properties box.

    Anyone know how using the details view, you can view the permissions applied to a folder without going into the Security tab?

  47. susrich

    Hey,

    Thanks for the elaborated tips.

    Perhaps you can explain to me the HOME-Key. I have absolutely no idea where to find it on the keyboard.

    Shift + F10 isn’t it the context-menu (right-click, or the key for it between [alt gr] and [strg])?

    BTW, I think the strg – fn – win – alt – buttons on the lower left simply displaced. The fn-button has no use for the combinations which are around it. It simply disturbes there. If you quickly move your fingers to reach the different combinations you always hit the fn-button instead of the strg or the win-button.

  48. Adam

    DemonLord,

    Id love a copy of the .PDF that has the 500 shortcuts, sure would help especially with all the systems i am assisting the Military with while i am deployed with them

  49. Ken

    On my system the win + 1,2 etc. or alt+win+1, etc does not work with the right side number pad. Using the numbers at the top of the keyboard is an awkward hand over hand motion which is cumbersome. Is they a fix for this?

  50. stagz

    Well if you don’t have a pause/break button on the keyboard and they are separate its actually the “pause” button you have to press along with the “Windows” key. But being that my keyboard is configured with the “pg up” and “pause” buttons together, I have to press Win + Fn + Pg Up/Pause keys all together to get system properties to open.

  51. Demon Lord

    @Adam,

    I’d be more than glad to help you but I need an email to send it to.

  52. issac_abraham

    “Ctrl+Shift+N” didn’t work at windows xp.. anyone know why?

  53. Pamir

    That’s great…

  54. pomposita

    ALT F4

    SUDAMERICA PRESENTE!! XDDDD

  55. Luke

    Ok. I will probably never use any of these because I have a mac which has sensible keyboard short cuts.

  56. pmac

    WINDOWS+M minimizes everything but seems a bit redundant as Show Destop shorcut does that too?
    I only use WIN+D to do that as it all comes back up again when you do the command a 2nd time.
    WIN+E is great as mentioned :p
    WIN+F opens Find (Search)
    I use WIN+Pause/Break a lot too to check CPU/Ram quickly or to get to Device Manager and other system settings too.

    For those of you saying your shortcuts don’t work – if you are using a laptop you may need to press the Fn key as well as your numberpad or pause break keys as they are usually a 2nd function on those keys.

  57. saakeman

    everyone forgot ctrl + c = copy and ctrl + v = paste

  58. bls

    DemonLord, Please send me a copy. bls3427@hotmail.com

    Thanks!

  59. metalbrothers.com

    thats awesome !!!

  60. spilie87

    Demon Lord, I’d like that pdf! :-)
    spilie87(dot)2(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks!

  61. HUSHUS

    @Demon Lord
    please send it to me too, (husam_ee@hotmail.com)
    Thanks

  62. Soundar Rajan

    Great suggestions, Yeah, Demon, I want your 500 shortcuts. Pl do email the pdf doc.

  63. Sebastián

    forgot ctrl+x = cut

  64. Sebastián

    my computer is xp,

  65. Francis Tembile Cudjoe

    Right SHIFT for eight seconds (Switch Filter Keys either on or off)
    Left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN (Switch High Contrast either on or off)
    Left ALT+left SHIFT+NUN LOCK (Switch the Mouse Keys either on or off)
    SHIFT five times (Switch the Sticky Keys either on or off)
    NUM LOCK for five seconds (Switch the Toggle Keys either on or off)
    Windows Logo +U (Open Utility Manager)

  66. kenando

    Alt+f+w = for create New Folder
    Win+D = help for minmize
    Alt+Tab = for chnging windows (Please send me all the short cut keys table for windows 7 if available), Thanks..

  67. onje

    Demonlord pls send me that pdf.

  68. Elizabeth haffey

    @DemonLord- if u could I’d also like a copy of that PDF zoeylizabeth@gmail.com thank you!!

  69. LLO

    Win + L – Is not for logging out of Windows. It does lock your PC.

  70. Amir

    I never use Shift+Del.
    I use Ccleaner to delete my RB after I probe into the items in RB.

  71. samar

    i love windoooooooooooooooooows 7

  72. Gustavo

    Ctrl + Alt + Left = Turns your monitor 90º left
    Ctrl + Alt + Right = Turns your monitor 90º right
    Ctrl + Alt + Down = Turns your monitor upsidedown
    Ctrl + Alt + Up = Normal view
    Win + TAB = similar to Alt + TAB, but I like more… :-)

  73. Njitram

    @DemonLord, I’d appreciate a copy of that pdf. I’m always looking for ways to work faster and more efficiently! My email is mvanloocke@gmail.com

  74. Aero

    Here’s an extremely useful one:

    Hold SHIFT while right-clicking a file or folder and you’ll get an expanded context menu including ‘Open in a new process’ and ‘Open command window here’ as well as a few other options. It can come in handy at times :)

  75. Frank Harvey

    Hi DemonLord

    I’d be very pleased if you could send your PDF of 500 shortcuts, please to me at
    frank.harvey26@googlemail.com

    Thank you

    Frank

  76. M2

    DemonLord, I’d love to have a copy of the pdf file you mentioned. Please send to:
    Thanks in advance.

  77. R. Alvarez

    Is their a printer friendly version of these? Thanks

  78. hlazalde

    Demon Lord,

    I want your PDF document on widows and office short cuts.

    Thanks,

    Horacio

  79. roemer2201

    Win + Right
    Win + Left

    … Snaps the Windows on one half of your monitor. Very usefull for Multiple-Screen-Users, who can not snap windows in the middle.

  80. Marco Largo

    Hello can you please share your PDF

  81. Marco Largo

    Hello can you please share your PDF
    Iamlatino at hotmail dot com

  82. Peter

    Hi Demon Lord.
    Can you please send me the 500 shortcut?

    Thanks in advanced

    ahlin55 (at) gmail (dot) com

  83. Demon Lord

    @ Peter, Marco Largo, Frank Harvey, Njitram, Elizabeth haffey, HUSHUS, spilie87, bls

    I sent the 500 shortcut PDF to you guys. If someone hasn’t got or if I missed someone please tell me.

    @ hlazalde, M2 , onje

    Where should I send it? You haven’t gave me an email!

  84. salboyd

    DemonLord, Please send me a copy of the pdf file you mentioned. Thank you.

  85. Manish

    Hey dude, that’s a wonderful article, quite help full for me, as i try to avoid the Mouse, @ Demon Lord, send me the PDF @mlaungani@msn.com

    Thanks

  86. Poet-Geek

    Wooohhaaaa!!!
    I knew many Windows Key shortcuts but some of these truly made Windows 7 even greater to use!!

  87. Demon Lord

    @salboyd

    I need an email to send it to.

  88. James

    Shift + Win + (Left or Right) will move windows between two or more monitors in the direction you press.

  89. cindy

    Is there anyway my husband could have hit buttons at the same time my screen is black all the lights come on computer sounds like it is running could you send me the 500 shortcuts and do we have any answers?

  90. NaNNy`

    WIN + P to easily switch dual monitor modalities (extended, duplicate…)

  91. karthik

    what is win …………………………………….

  92. TheVoyager

    Oh DemonLord
    Please email me the PDF as well

  93. bob

    Geek Boss,

    i would like to see a stand alone page of shortcuts

    that you do or favor

    such as double line space,

    and each is easy to read and understand

    e.g.

    f2 = whatever

    f3 = compress lines highlighted

    etc

    so all i have to do until i memorize the list is glance at the “f”,

    (and “f” is a poor symbol to use on computers and net,
    it is often used to say f you and i dont think i like having this
    angry thought in my mind, sure can be used fondly, but mostly is anger)

    and easily see which f:1,2,3… speeds up my job

    this forum (geek) ought be offered for sale (and or rent),

    not all but parts,

    to google

    who could trim it down to bite size and post those on its sites, all,

    and see what comes,,,,,

    they(goog) too have prob of efficiency, but geek
    has efficiency beat (except loads the page with more than one quickie)
    for max speed, a page or a link should contain one item, thus
    reader glances, gets the point, etc, without a headache

    again, thanks for an excellant forum

    bob

  94. bob

    geek boss,

    you will like this tech solution:

    last night our pc wents nutso, would continuously type a letter, number,
    etc, and we could not control the damn thing in any way,,,, finally we put Norton to work, it did its job and we got to use the computer for awhile,
    it had found one unacceptable cookie and deleted it,,,,,,
    then we shut it down for the noc,,,,,,

    this morn fired it up and had the same problems, ggggrrrrrrrrrrr

    so the boss, my wife, tele her favorite and only son, the engineer,
    a whiz at all things complicated, whose first question was “were you
    eating near the keyboard, etc, and of course i had been eating a square, small,
    of chocolate and somehow sneezed some of it in liquid form onto the lower keys i thought only on v and immediate keys, so i cleaned them up, got going
    but as i said the gods controlled the computer and we did not

    so the boss tele her son, the engineer, again and he said which keys are
    typed continuously??? she said ‘5’, he said look at that key on keyboard
    and see if juiced with chocolate, and sure enough it was buried, at bottom
    of stroke, in chocolate, gggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    the boss went downstairs and got an almost new keyboard that we retired
    when got this new Acer pc from costco, a dandy pc, does everything
    but be nice to choc coated keys, put the almost new keyboard back into
    the system and guess what? yep end of problems ggggrrrr all the fun is gone

    i know none of geek readers do fancy stuff like i do such as
    coat 5 and surrounding keys with chocolate and spit enough so
    jam the 5 down full so commands the computer to type 555555555555
    5555555555555555555555555555555 all the time

    yes, there is a geek heaven….

  95. Wade

    Win and “=” zooms in Win and “-” zooms back out

  96. Demon Lord

    @ Cindy and The Voyager. What are your emails?

  97. Jatin

    I knew many shortcuts….But these shortcuts are quite amazing….Thanks…..

  98. mssk

    Hi Demon,
    can u plz send me that pdf to my mail (mssk.aish@gmail.com).
    thanks in adv.

  99. agnieszka

    @Demon Lord,

    Could i trouble you for a copy of the pdf also, please?

    to email: awiklendt ( at ) yahoo.com.au.

    Much appreciated, Ta.

    Agnieszka.

  100. ray crawford

    Shortcut pdf, please!

    ray(at)greatkeppel(dot)ie

  101. The Geek

    Guys, this post has turned into a spammer’s dream, with all your email addresses sitting in here.

    I’m closing the comments since it seems like this is a never-ending thing.

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