In recent years, Microsoft has pushed Windows closer and closer to a touch-friendly interface, starting with Windows 8, then 8.1, and now 10. Still, for most of us, the keyboard remains the primary method of input. If you take the time to memorize keyboard shortcuts, you’ll be able to navigate just as fast, if not faster, than if you were using a touchscreen or a mouse. In this article, we’ll review existing shortcuts, as well new ones developed specifically for Windows 10.
How to Read this Article
We’ll describe keyboard shortcuts as follows in this article:
[Keyboard key #1] + [Keyboard key #2]
To activate that keyboard shortcut, you’d hold down [Keyboard key #1] first, and while still holding it, pressing [Keyboard key #2], then letting go of both.
Sometimes, a third key will be involved:
[Keyboard key #1] + [Keyboard key #2] + [Keyboard key #3]
In those cases, you’ll hold down the first two keys, one after the other, and then press the third. Think of the infamous [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete] – which works perfectly in Windows 10, by the way.
One other abbreviation we’ll be using is Windows key. There’s no key on the keyboard that has the text Windows key written on it; rather, this is referring to the Windows logo key that sits between the left [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys.
New Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 10
First, let’s take a closer look at a series of brand new keyboard shortcuts that didn’t exist in previous versions of Windows.
[Windows key] + [A] – Opens the Action Center
The Action Center (as seen in the image on the right) is a centralized place to receive notifications about your computer and change various computer settings. The Action Center existed in Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, but there hasn’t been a shortcut for opening the Action Center until the arrival of Windows 10.
[Windows key] + [Tab] – Opens the Task View
You can still press [Alt] + [Tab] to switch between apps and programs, but this view is more spread out.
A closer look at the Task View.
[Windows key] + [Ctrl] + [D] – Opens a Virtual Desktop
A virtual desktop is exactly what it sounds like – another desktop. Once you try this shortcut, you’ll understand. If you’ve ever been accused of having too many windows open, you can now distribute them across virtual desktops – one might be for work, you can keep personal info open on another desktop, and so on. They can be opened or closed at will. Virtual desktops are one of Windows 10’s best new features.
There are two more shortcuts associated with virtual desktops:
[Windows key] + [Ctrl] + [Right or left arrow keys]
Switch between virtual desktops
[Windows key] + [Ctrl] + [F4]
Close a virtual desktop
[Windows key] + [S] – Open Windows Search
Although not technically new, as this same shortcut existed in Windows 8 and 8.1, search in Windows 10 is located in the Start menu, instead of the charms bar.
On a related note, you can also open Cortana, Windows 10’s voice control persona, in listen-only mode, by pressing [Windows key] + [C].
General Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
This won’t be an exhaustive list, as we’d be talking several hundred, but here’s a selection of our favorites for everyday usage. Most of the shortcuts below work back to Windows Vista; and all of them with Windows 7 through 10.
(Note these are all Windows shortcuts – if you use specific software, such as Adobe Photoshop, or Microsoft Word, they’ll have their own shortcuts – open Help in that software by pressing [F1], and check them out!)
[Alt] + [Tab]
Switches between apps and programs. Tip: press the [Tab] key repeatedly to switch to the next app or program, while still holding down [Alt], e.g. [Alt] + [Tab] + [Tab].
[Windows key] + [E]
Opens Windows File Explorer.
[Alt] + [F4]
Closes the current app or program.
[Windows key] + [M]
Minimizes all open programs and apps. Press [Windows key] + [Shift] + [M] to restore them. You can also press [Windows key] + [,] (comma) to peek at the desktop without minimizing your apps and programs.
[PgUp] and [PgDn]
Goes to the next or previous page, respectively. This is a much faster way to page through documents and webpages, as opposed to scrolling.
[Windows key] + [L]
Locks your PC.
[Windows key] + [1 through 9 number keys]
Switches to the program open on the taskbar, where the number is the position starting from the left on the taskbar. This is an excellent way to open your favorite apps and programs, if you pin them to the taskbar (right click an open app or program on the taskbar >Pin to taskbar). You can also use [Shift] in conjunction with this shortcut to open another instance of the program, e.g. [Windows key] + [Shift] +  to open another instance of the first app or program on your taskbar.
Maximize the current window. Tip: press [F11] again to restore the current window.
[Ctrl] + [C]
Copies the highlighted text.
[Ctrl] + [V]
Pastes the text you’ve copied.
[Ctrl] + [Z]
Undoes the last action performed, such as a delete. This works elsewhere in Windows, not just in text editors.
[Home] and [End]
Moves your cursor to the beginning or end of a line, respectively. Press [Shift] in conjunction to highlight from your cursor on over. You can also press [Ctrl] in conjunction to go to the beginning or end of a document or webpage, e.g. [Ctrl] + [End]. You can even combine all three – [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [End] will highlight from your cursor to the end of the document!
[Ctrl] + [Right or Left arrow keys]
Moves your cursor to the beginning of the next word in either direction. Press [Shift] in conjunction to highlight the word your cursor is sitting in front of or behind.
[Ctrl] + [Up or Down arrow keys]
Goes to the beginning of the previous or next paragraph, respectively. Press [Shift] in conjunction to highlight the entire paragraph, e.g. [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Up or Down arrow key].
[Shift] + [Right or Left arrow keys]
Highlights from your cursor to the left or right. You can also experiment with [Shift] + [Up or Down] arrow keys, which highlight the lines above or below where your cursor is, respectively.
[Ctrl] + [A]
Selects all text. This works elsewhere in Windows, such as in File Explorer to select all files in the current folder.
Renames a file or folder after selecting it. Press [Tab] while renaming an item to jump to and rename the next item in the list.
[Shift] + [F10]
Opens the shortcut menu for the selected file or folder. Use the arrow keys to highlight items on the shortcut menu, then [Enter] to perform the action. Note you can use this to right-click anywhere in Windows, which is convenient since you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard.
[Ctrl] + [Shift] + [N]
Creates a new folder.
[Shift] + [Delete]
Permanently deletes a file. Be careful!
[Ctrl] + [C] or [Ctrl] + [V]
Copies or pastes a file, respectively. This also works in a text editor, to copy and paste text.
Display the address bar.
The keyboard is the oldest modern form of input for computers, dating back to well before the mouse and touchscreens were envisioned. It can be a formidable productivity tool, not just for text input, but for navigation between programs, and especially for manipulating blocks of text. The keyboard shortcuts we selected in this article are the ones we use most often, but there’s plenty more – for a full listing of Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts, you can visit Microsoft’s web page here. Explore them all, and you’ll find yourself a much more adept user – not to mention more productive.
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