Windows Secrets - Hotkeys and Keyboard Shortcuts

Updated on August 19, 2018
EricFarmer8x profile image

Eric has always loved to tinker with, and test software, and using computer software would become his great passion.

I have used Windows for many years across multiple versions. I have learned many Windows tricks and computer secrets along the way.

In this article, I will share the things I have learned, and hopefully, this advice helps you.

Common Shortcuts

Here are what I consider common shortcuts because most people know some if not all of these when asked.

  • Ctrl + V to paste what is currently copied in the clipboard.
  • Ctrl + C copies currently selected text to the clipboard. This also works on pictures.
  • Ctrl + X puts the currently selected text into the clipboard and removes it at the same day.
  • Pressing Alt + f4 closes a program. Another neat hint is if you press Alt + f4 on the desktop it brings up to option to shutdown Windows.

This context menu shows much of the easy to remember shortcuts as actions.
This context menu shows much of the easy to remember shortcuts as actions. | Source

Windows Desktop Hotkeys

There are many useful hotkeys you can use while on the desktop, and I use them somewhat often.

  • If you press the Windows key and D, this will minimize all open windows and show you the desktop.
  • Pressing the Windows key and R opens the run dialog box.
  • If you press the Windows key and E, this will open a new File Explorer window.
  • Press f2 while a file is selected to rename it.
  • Pressing the Windows key and L locks the computer requiring the user to sign in again.
  • Press the Delete while a file is selected to delete the file. Press the Shift key and Delete to remove the file without putting it into the Recycle Bin.

Here is one of the hotkeys I only learned about after reviewing documentation on the Microsoft website.

If you press the Windows key, Shift, Ctrl, and N at the same time, this creates a new folder on the desktop or File Explorer.

I don't actually use this one too often because it is somewhat of an odd combination of keys.

Windows Secrets That Work in Programs

There are plenty of Windows secrets that work in open programs. Here are some of the things I have learned.

  • Press Ctrl + Z to undo actions in programs like text and image editors. Press Ctrl + Y to repeat these actions.
  • Press Ctrl + S to save your work in editing programs.
  • Press Ctrl + A to choose where to save your current file. This doesn't work in every program though.
  • Press Ctrl + O to open a file
  • Press Ctrl + N to start a new file.
  • Press Ctrl + P to print documents.

Here is one Windows secret I learned about after watching a tutorial video from Microsoft.

In programs, if you see an underlined menu prompt, or option, this means you can use a hotkey. Sometimes you need to press the alt key first to see the underlines.

Press the alt key and the underlined letter to perform an action. For example, in Notepad if you press Alt and then F it opens up the file menu.

Another neat trick I learned is Ctrl + W, and I learned this one from using Google Chrome. This hotkey closes the current window in programs that allow you to have multiple open. I know this works in:

  • File Explorer
  • Microsoft Office and LibreOffice documents.
  • Web Browser windows

I pressed the Alt key and F and these options opened up.
I pressed the Alt key and F and these options opened up. | Source

Computer Tricks to Use in Text Editors

I wanted to be more productive when writing documents on my computer, so I searched for computer tricks to help me type faster beyond just increasing my typing speed.

I learned that there is a set of hotkeys and shortcuts that work in just about every text editor I have used.

  • Holding down the shift key and moving around text with the arrow keys selects it.
  • Holding down the Ctrl key and using the arrows keys to move around text skips whole words.
  • Pressing backspace removes one letter behind the cursor
  • Pressing delete removes one character after the cursor or removes currently selected text.
  • Pressing Home takes you to the beginning of the current line of text.
  • Pressing End takes you to End of the current line of text.
  • Another useful key combination is Ctrl + A. This selects all text on the screen.

You can combine these keys for different results. For example, if you hold down shift and Ctrl and move through the text, you start to select it one word at a time.

Press Ctrl + Home or End to go to the first word in the document or the last word. If you press shift + Home or End, you will select all the text to the left or right of the cursor.

The best way to get a feel for these key combinations is to test them yourself. Trying these hotkeys and shortcuts in a document and play around with moving and editing text.

Useful Windows Run Box Commands

I mentioned earlier if you press the Windows key and R the run dialog box shows. I honestly don't use Run that much these days, but there are a few useful programs you can start quickly using Run.

  • appwiz.cpl opens the Control Panel
  • dxdiag opens the Directx settings program, and this program shows you some hardware and graphics card information about your computer.
  • explorer opens up a new Explorer window.
  • If you have Google Chrome installed typing chrome in the box opens up a new browser window.
  • If you have Firefox installed typing firefox in the box opens up a new browser window.
  • Typing cmd opens a new window of Command Prompt.
  • Typing powershell opens up a new window of PowerShell.

The Run option is a hold over from old versions of Windows but it still helpful today!
The Run option is a hold over from old versions of Windows but it still helpful today! | Source

Do You Have Any Advice to Give?

I am still learning new things about Windows the more I use it, and this is not an exhaustive list of tips and tricks. Hopefully, you learned something new you can use to make your daily computer usage easier.

Feel free to share advice and tips of your own in the comments!

© 2018 Eric Farmer


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