Keyboard shortcuts to help the Windows user work smarter

It’s amazing how much time you can save by using a few simple shortcuts to navigate faster when working on your computer. Reaching for the mouse for basic commands may not seem all that time consuming, but add up all those moments over a week or a month, and you’re using a substantial chunk of time.

While mobile devices and tablets are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, the desktop computer still dominates the day to day office. We have put together some of our favourite Windows shortcuts that we have found particularly useful, to help you to increase your productivity and work smarter.


The essentials:

These commands will be useful to you every day!


Ctrl + Z: Undo

One of our favourites and at times an absolute lifesaver! Pressing Ctrl + Z will undo any action you have just done, such as typing out the wrong sentence or entering an incorrect figure into a cell. Undo is a timesaving shortcut that everyone should know! Bonus tip: you can also reverse your last undo by pressing Ctrl + Y.


Ctrl + A: Select all

How annoying is it when you’re trying to select all of the text in a Word document, or files in a folder by dragging the mouse across all of the intended selection? Especially when a simple Ctrl + A command will do just that!


Ctrl + W: Close

No more red X’s! Use Ctrl + W as a quick way to close any documents, web browser windows you have open.


Alt + Tab: Switch apps

A classic and very useful Windows shortcut, this combo is used for switching between the multitude of open programs you’ve no doubt accumulated through the working day.


Navigating Windows:

Use these shortcuts to move around your computer like a pro.


Windows + D: Show or hide the desktop

“D” for “Desktop” – easy to remember, right? Minimise all open windows and hop back to your desktop with this simple button combo.


Windows + left arrow or Windows + right arrow: Snap windows

Got an email open with financial data in one tab, and a spreadsheet to input the data into on another?  It’s irritating having to click and jump from one program to another! In this situation you need to “snap” your windows. Use the Windows key and the left and right arrows to snap your windows side-by-side and make working across different apps a breeze!


Windows + up or down arrows: Maximise or minimise windows

Quickly maximise or minimise a selected program by using this simple shortcut.  Great for those workers who always have a hundred programs open at the same time!


Win + Tab: Open the task view

Like Alt + Tab, this shortcut lets you switch apps. The latest version shows some quick thumbnails of all your open programs on the screen.


Ctrl + Esc: Open the Start menu

Open up the Start menu without a mouse using this shortcut.


Advanced tricks:

Now you’ve got the basics and navigation down, here are some more fancy tricks that will make your life easier.


F2: Rename

Highlight a file, tap the F2 button and you’ll be given the option to rename it.  Who has time for pesky right-clicking nowadays…?


F5: Refresh

This one’s a keeper!  Is a webpage giving you trouble?  Are you desperate to see that new product hit the digital shelves so you can snap it up?  A simple F5 will refresh your current website tab easily.


Windows + S: Search Windows

Modern Windows computers allow you to basically search for anything quickly and easily. Jump into that search function with a quick press of Windows + S.


Windows + L: Lock your computer

Need to go to the kitchen for a cuppa but don’t want your computer left open for the office snoop? Lock that thing up by pressing Windows + L.


Windows + PrtScn: Save a screenshot

Need to show something from your screen to someone quickly over email?  Use this shortcut to take a screenshot of your whole screen.  You’ll get an image saved to your screenshots folder and it’ll be on your clipboard ready to paste (ctrl + V).  Don’t want the whole screen?  Use Alt + PrtScn to only capture your active window, again ready for pasting.


Ctrl + Shift + Esc: Open the Task Manager

Ah the Task Manager.  The go-to place for troubleshooting programs that are “not responding” or slowing down your PC.  This shortcut will take you there and show you everything you have running.


Win + Ctrl + D: Add a new virtual desktop

Are you one of these people who just can’t seem to function unless you’ve got a multitude of tabs open at any one time? It takes up a lot of space, right? The solution for you might be a virtual desktop, where you can stash away some of these open applications and then jump between desktops to save on workspace (and you look tidier to your colleagues, too!).


Win + X: Open the hidden menu

Now we’re getting pretty advanced… Windows has a hidden Start menu called the “Quick Link” menu. This area has access to all of the important setting you need to configure your PC – things like device manager, printers, keyboards and command prompt.  Great for advanced users who want to change the way their system works or configure a new piece of hardware.

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