Killer Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

That little computer mouse is mighty. We use it for a great deal of heavy lifting on our computers. But before the mouse (yes, there was a time when a personal computer came without a mouse), you did everything on the keyboard.

You can still do everything on the keyboard if you choose. And there are good reasons to do so, or to at least use the keyboard more. Over a lifetime of personal computing, the time you spend reaching for and maneuvering the mouse will add up. Many of those tasks can be more quickly and easily accomplished without moving your hands off the keyboard. And all that clicking with the same finger will wear down your tendons and cartilage.

This first section of Windows shortcuts is reprinted from, and a link at the end of this post takes you to a Microsoft Help page that has a complete list of Windows keyboard shortcuts…

Windows XP keyboard shortcuts 5/13/05
Robert J. Shimonski,

Tip 1: Quickly Accessing the Start Menu
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key
If you are just plan old ‘sick and tired’ of using the mouse to click on the infamous button to display the Windows Start Menu, then you simply only need to hit the ‘Windows’ Key. Using either or (there are usually two of them, one on a laptop keyboard) so you can use either or. The Windows key once pressed will launch the start menu — once you release the key, the menu will appear. Get used to this key; many of the other shortcuts you will use rely on this key.

Note: You may have a ‘very’ old keyboard that may not include the Windows Key on it. You will not be able to use this shortcut unless you get a new keyboard.

You can also use Ctrl + Esc

Tip 2: Quickly getting to your System Properties
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + Pause/Break
There will certainly be times where you will need to access the System Properties for your computer. When you need to get to the properties, many times you will go through a pretty long exercise. There are a couple of ways to get to the properties, most commonly by right clicking the mouse over the ‘My Computer’ icon on your desktop and then selecting properties from the drop down menu. If you do this very often, you may consider using this keyboard shortcut.

Tip 3: Quickly getting to your Run Dialog Box
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + R
The Run dialog box is used to allow you to either browse to a command to run, or simply enter the path to one if not already entered in the system’s path statement. (path=)To quickly run an executable (such as calc.exe), just type calc in the Run dialog box and if in the path statement, it will simply run. The Run dialog box is used often so this shortcut will really come in handy.Note:You can also quickly access websites by entering URLs in the Run dialog box …. You can also open files with the following: file:///C:/filename.txt

Tip 4: Quickly Locking your System
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + L

here will surely be times where you want to quickly step away from your system and not leave it accessible to prying eyes in the office or home. How do you quickly lock up your PC and allow it to be secure from immediate access at the console? By locking it up, that’s how.
Commonly, the quickest way to do this was to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del key sequence (will be covered shortly) which would allow you to select an option to ‘Lock Workstation’. Using this keystroke will allow you from moving to using three keys and the mouse to navigate to a simple keystroke that will lock your system immediately.

Tip 5: Quickly Search for Anything
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + F
If you want to find files (and or computers, and other random things on your system) you will want to use the Search feature built into Windows XP. To use this, remember the old name for it, which was simply Find. Now — the Windows Key + F will invoke the Search function and within a few seconds, you should see your Search Results dialog box come up. Use this feature to find items on your system or on remote systems that you may have access and connections to.

Tip 6: Quickly Minimizing and Restoring Windows
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + D
One of my favorite keyboard shortcuts is the Windows Key + D shortcut. Try to remember the word ‘desktop’ when you try to remember the D, think of using this shortcut to reveal the ‘desktop’ and it may help you remember it.Many times I am very tied up (like right now) with many Windows open on my system. This is because most times, I am working within multiple applications. There are times where I may want to view the desktop for one reason or another, and that can ‘very’ quickly be done with a keystroke.

Tip 7: Quickly getting to the Utility Manager
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + U

Users can start accessibility programs before logging on to the computer by using this keystroke. If you are fond of using the Utility Manager, then this keyboard shortcut will definitely help you to get to it. Tools such as ‘Magnifier’ and ‘Narrator’ can be set to start automatically and so on with this system utility.

Tip 8: Quickly getting to Help and Support
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + F1
If you are in need of help or support, look no further. By using Windows Key + F1 (the F1 key), then you can use the help and support system that comes with Windows XP.Note: Help and Support may take a second to load on most systems, so be patient.

Tip 9: Quickly getting to Windows Explorer
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key + E

Here is another great shortcut you may not know about. If you want to access Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer — the Web browser), you can use the Windows Key + E shortcut. This will open up Windows Explorer for you so you can manage files and other forms of data on your system.
Be aware that this may take a moment to open if you are working on a network and have mapped drives, so be patient if it takes a moment.

Tip 10: Quickly delete something without being ASKED to
Keyboard Shortcut: Shift + Del

This is absolutely my all time favorite shortcut, now you can delete something from your system and not be asked 82 times if I really am sure I want to do that…. this keyboard shortcut allows you to bypass the asking — your data is deleted without question.
Note: This is only dangerous if you are not sure if you want to delete something or not, but honestly, with the fact being that you have to ’empty’ your recycle bin anyway… as long as you don’t have a task set up to do it — then this is definitely something you want to consider.

Tip 11: Quickly getting to your shortcut menu
Keyboard Shortcut: Windows key
Newer keyboards have a key that allows you to now get properties menus from anything you select that can provide you with a menu. For instance, if you have Office document on your desktop (let’s say, a spreadsheet named tax.xls) then you can select it and press the Window key and then the shortcut menu key and you can now quickly view properties for a selected object. Although this is not the ‘fastest’ keystroke sequence in the world, it happens to be a very helpful one especially if you do not have a mouse attached to your system.

Tip 12: Quickly getting to your Task Manager
Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + Del
By far the most commonly used keystroke sequence used on just about any and every Windows system ever created. By pressing (and holding down) the Control key (ctrl), then the Alt key (Alt), and then the Delete key (Del), it will allow you to lock your workstation, change a password as well as use Task Manager.

Tip 13: Quickly switch between running programs
Keyboard Shortcut: Alt + Tab

If you work with many programs (most people who work on computers these days fit this description) then you will definitely want to learn about and master the Alt + Tab keystroke sequence. By selecting the Alt key and then holding it down (try this with your left thumb) and then use the tab key to switch between running programs, highlighting and selecting a specific program will bring that one to the foreground, maximized in your screen so that you can work within it. Releasing the Alt key brings up the program you want to use.

Tip 14: Quickly Getting to Full Screen Command Prompt
Keyboard Shortcut: Alt + Enter
If you want to see the Command Prompt in full screen (not in a small Window), you can quickly expand it to full screen with the Alt + Enter keystroke sequence. The only problem with this is, you need to have the Command Prompt open to expand it to full screen, so, to open it you can use the Run dialog box.Here is a way to use two keyboard shortcuts at once… as you may recall, we already learned the shortcut to get to the Run dialog box, which was using the Windows Key + R. Now, once open, type cmd and hit enter. This will then open your Command Prompt.CMD gives you full screen mode only if you select it from the properties of the Command prompt Windows — you can select full screen mode by default, but I don’t like it this way, it is too intrusive and cumbersome — using the Keyboard shortcut will give you want you want very quickly and give you access to both types (Windows or Full Screen) as quickly as you can hit the keystroke sequence.

Tip 15: Quickly make your own ShortcutMake your own shortcuts… wow, does it get any better? Ok, so the Keyboard shortcuts you already learned are lame in your mind or you just want to be different, whatever you’re reasoning… you can make custom shortcuts in a flash. I assign a keyboard shortcut for the files and applications that I launch many times a day, such as Microsoft Word 2003.To make a shortcut, follow these steps:Simply right-click an application shortcut in the Start menu or on the desktop and choose Properties.

If not already selected, select the Shortcut tab.

Click in the ‘Shortcut key’ box and press your desired shortcut keys. I use a lot of Ctrl + Shift + Alt key sequences. You can use your own desired sequences as well. One prerequisite of Windows is that your shortcut must use at least two modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, or Alt and/or a function key or a key on keypad. Click OK to close the properties windows and use your new keyboard shortcut.

Note: If you want to remove your shortcut, follow the same path into your properties dialog again and just select the ‘Shortcut Key:’ field and then backspace one time to remove the shortcut. Click Ok to close the properties windows and the shortcut keyboard sequence will be removed.

Sources: Windows XP keyboard shortcuts

Microsoft Help & Support: List of the keyboard shortcuts that are available in Windows XP