8 Awesome Windows Shortcuts That are Being Totally Ignored

Every operating system and software has its own set of keyboard shortcuts and they actually make our life easier by eliminating the need for tedious mouse clicks. In fact, if you know how to move around with just your keyboard, you can increase your productivity two fold. But no matter how important or easy the shortcuts are, we often forget or ignore some of them due to reasons like very little use or awkward placement on the keyboard. Here are some of those forgotten or most ignored Windows shortcuts.

Most of you may know that “Ctrl + Z” is used to undo the immediate previous action performed by the user. This is really helpful at times, but do you actually know that there is a shortcut called “Ctrl + Y” which will redo anything that is undone? This will be a life saver at times, so don’t ever forget this shortcut.

You can easily open the System details window in your Windows machine directly from the Control Panel. In Windows 8, it is even easier: just press “Win + X” and select the option “System.” But to make it even easier, just press “Win + Pause/Break” on your keyboard and the System details window will pop-up.

The Print Screen (Prt Scr) key on your keyboard is often used to take snapshots of the current screen. But if you want to quickly take a screenshot of just the active window, then press “Alt + Print Screen.” This eliminates any need for editing the screenshot to just the active window.

Windows Explorer is one of the most used programs on almost any Windows machine. Generally, you can either open Windows Explorer right from the start menu, from the taskbar or by double clicking on the “My Computer” icon on your desktop. But the quickest way to open Windows Explorer is by pressing “Win + E” on your keyboard. This is a handy little shortcut that is ignored by most of us.

keyboard-shortcuts

The most common way to create a new folder in Windows Explorer is to right-click and select the option “New > Folder.” An easier way is to press “Ctrl + Shift +N,” and you will have your new folder waiting to be renamed. This shortcut is better than stretching out your hand for the mouse.

There are quite a few ways to shutdown a Windows PC, and one of them is to press the “Win” button, then the “Right Arrow” and then the “Enter” button. This action will execute the first option in the Shutdown button.

Of course, this shortcut may not work on Windows 8 or 8.1 but may, hopefully, work on Windows 10. Alternatively, you can use “Alt + F4.”

If you have a large computer screen, then why not snap your active programs to either side of the screen so that you don’t have to move back and forth between windows? Generally you can use your mouse to snap windows, but the keyboard shortcut “Win + Arrow Keys” will work as well. Depending on the arrow key, the windows will snap to the respective side.

“Alt + Tab” is used to quickly switch between programs or windows. If you want a pretty version of the same functionality, press “Win + Tab” on your keyboard.

There are many more keyboard shortcuts that are often ignored or forgotten, but these are the ones from the top of my head.

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts, and do you know all the above-mentioned ones? Do share with us any other unique or lesser-known keyboard shortcuts that are not mentioned above.

33 comments

  1. “they actually make our life easier by eliminating the need for tedious mouse clicks.”
    Maybe for someone who sits at a keyboard 24/7/365. For those of us who have a life outside the parents basement, it is much easier to tediously click a mouse than it is to laboriously memorize and then try to remember dozens of esoteric and non-intuitive key combinations.

    If keyboard shortcuts were so wonderful, Wozniak and Jobs would not have stolen the idea of a mouse from Xerox PARC. Neither would have Gates subsequently stolen it from Fruitco.

    • Actually, for those of us who get real work done on a computer rather than just gaming or web browsing, our hands tend to be on the keyboard an awful lot, you know, CREATING content rather than just consuming it like you seem to do. For us, keyboard shortcuts are actually useful, and even though I “have a life outside the parents basement”, I don’t find it all that difficult to memorize a few 3-key commands. Maybe it’s harder for you…

      Thank you Vamsi for reminding me of these useful keyboard shortcuts.

      • You’re both right actually. I think those of us who basically use computers in more of a recreational manner see using a mouse as both something we’re used to and easier to remember than key groupings. Where as those heavily involved with computer operations I’m guessing are already doing so many of these type of shortcuts daily that it becomes second nature.

        For my older mind….The simpler the better I remember…The mouse is just fine. On the other hand while we’re talking about making things easier. My first computer was an ancient DOS system. When compared to that system….This is a very silly argument.

    • Who is Fruitco? Never heard of him in relation to the computer mouse – unless he was the original developer at Xerox Parc…

    • >who have a life outside the parents basement

      You know who else might find these useful? Anyone who uses a computer to actually get work done and contribute to society.

  2. Another significant advantage of «Win + E» is that it can open a new Windows Explorer window, even if one is already open, which for some odd reason can’t be done with the other alternatives. Thus clicking on the Explorer icon on the task bar when an Explorer window is already open simply minimises it to the taskbar, while double-clicking «My Computer» in those circumstances changes nothing. Having two Explorer windows open at the same time is very handy, for example, when moving files….

    Henri

    • How did I miss that in my article? Thanks for sharing.

      If you ever want, you can open a new Windows Explorer window by right-clicking on the “File Explorer” icon and selecting the option “File Explorer.”

      • One can, indeed, open a new Explorer window in that fashion, Vamsi, but that was not among the alternatives you mentioned above. Besides, I think you will agree – after all, that was precisely your point ! – that using the «Windows + E» keyboard alternative is a far simpler procedure….

        Om my Linux Mint 17.1 taskbar, however, I just click the Files icon again….

        Henri

    • There is another trick: you want Explorer (or Excel, or Word, whatever) to start up in a new process, sitting beside the already running Explorer process.

      You do this, bij holding left Shift-key + click on your Explorer icon.
      You will see – a new (second) Explorer window will open. Or a completely separate instance of Excel.

      This may help. On the other hand – you would then be using BOTH keyboard AND mouse ;-)
      Win+E is far more easy in the end, I confess…

  3. There is nothing laborious about memorizing some shortcuts. Or more simply just incorporating them into everyday actions over if/when they are needed.

    ….as often as your comments are seen here, then you would know the shortcut are actually intuitive as can be, given the circumstances – regardless of who invented them.

    “it is much easier to tediously click a mouse” Maybe in your world……there is a reason why they are called “shortcuts”

  4. I was amazed at the number of people who would use Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up the login menu and then select “Lock Computer”. I suppose those same people are equally amazed when I suggest they try Win+L.

    • The Win+L is my best friend. At work I have admin level access to a tremendous number of systems. Screen gets locked with that one anytime I get out of my chair.

  5. My aging eyes appreciate “ctrl +” and “ctrl -” for enlarging and reducing stuff on the screen.

  6. Win+D is also helpful to see the desktop and then return the Windows to their original positioning on the second application of the command, whereas Win+M, keeps them minimized (also useful as Andy Mac suggested).
    I also use Win+R all the time to pull up the Run dialog.
    And just Win+type program name to find a program without going through the list (more useful in Windows 7 but also works in Windows 8).

  7. Couldn’t get the CTRL+Y to work on my Vista OS.
    i.e., CTRL+Z undid what I entered but CTRL+Y did not bring it back ?!?

  8. You can get a much more in-depth, context sensitive menu by holding the left-shift key while clicking the right mouse button on files and folders. For instance, in Windows Explorer, you can open a CMD session window in the folder you are viewing, so the command prompt points to that folder location when the CMD window opens. The ‘Send To’ menu is also expanded, giving you many more choices of where to send your files.

  9. Regarding the file explorer and Win-F is the only way to open second session, I find it very easy to just hold Shift key and click any program running on the taskbar. this open another instance of any program, file explorer included. I use this mainly for file explorer and browsers.

  10. In addition to all of the above: ALT+D immediately places focus into the address bar in File Explorer and most web browsers.

  11. I’m an IT pro and I will admit that I didn’t know all of these shortcuts… including some in the comments. Great article!

  12. I have recently retired and needed to work with Excel quite a lot. being Visually Impaired I used quite a lot of Keyboard shortcuts.
    My favourites were CTRL+; for the current date
    CTRL+SHIFT +: for the time
    CTRL+D to copy multiple column cells
    F7 to activate the Spellchecker (including Excel
    F12 to activate ‘Save As’.

    Hope these help someone a bit

  13. My personal favorite shortcut is clicking the ‘mouse scroll wheel’ to open a link in a new tab without leaving the previous window. Helps me a lot when doing research.

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