OK, we all know the obvious ones here, but what always surprises me is the number of people that don't know all of them...

Simple ones:

  • Alt-Tab - switch between applications (Shift+Alt+Tab - go through in reverse order)
  • Ctrl-Tab - switch between documents in an application (doesn't work in MS Word though - grr)
  • Ctrl+P - print this document
  • Ctrl+S - Save
  • Ctrl+Z - Undo
  • Ctrl+Y - Redo
  • Windows+M - Minimise everything (Shift+Windows+M - put everything back!)
  • Windows+F - File search (as opposed to Ctrl+F - local find in document)
  • Alt+space - get the control box (the one with minimise/maximise) - esp. useful if you lose a window on a multi-monitor desktop...

New ones in Windows 7:

  • Windows-Tab - application switching (like alt-tab) + preview
  • Windows+ either up or down arrow - maximise/restore window position

Did you also know ones like - scrolling the mouse wheel and holding CTRL changes font-size/zoom options in most (MS) applications...

What are your favourites?


  • 1
    Turn it into a wiki. Its too subjective not to be a wiki. – MrValdez Jun 15 '09 at 9:49
  • don't forget touchpad gestures! – nik Jun 15 '09 at 9:53
  • How's about Windows + Left Arrow/Right Arrow to resize the window to half the screen and lock it to the left/right of the screen? Also, when used in combination with the Shift key just moves the item across your multiple monitors. Genius!! – Mike McClelland Sep 7 '10 at 12:01

24 Answers 24


My old favorite is Ctrl-C, but not on text, on a dialog box. Most of the time it will copy the entire dialog box as text, so you don't have to do Alt-PrtScn and save an image of the application (unless you need to). It also makes it easier to search for solutions to the error message without having to retype the whole thing. I think I discovered this by mistake one day and have used it ever since.

Try it yourself, Start, Run, asdf, Enter, Ctrl-C, then paste it somewhere.


Windows cannot find 'asdf'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. To search for a file, click the Start button, and then click Search.


Or, in the IE address bar type javascript:zxcv, Enter, Ctrl-C on the message box.


A Runtime Error has occurred. Do you wish to Debug?

Line: 0

Error: 'zxcv' is undefined

Yes No

It looks like this editor is interpreting the dashed lines differently, but you get the idea. Try pasting it into Notepad.

  • Control-Shift-Escape: Task Manager.
  • Windows-R: Run dialogue.

Windows + L = Lock

Ctrl + Esc = Windows Start Menu, for those keyboards with no Windows Super Key

ALT + Print Screen = Take a screen shot of the current active window (not the whole desktop)

Print Screen = Take a screen shot of the entire desktop.

  • 1
    In my Windows XP PrtScn by itself takes a screen shot of the entire screen, both monitors. All I need to do to get a screen shot of the active window is Alt-PrtScn. Using the Ctrl key doesn't seem to affect this at all. – Bratch Jun 15 '09 at 18:32
  • Corrected. :-) +1 – Joseph Kern Jun 15 '09 at 19:13

WINDOWS + E - Explorer Window


Win + Pause/Break - opens System Properties


Windows-D to show the desktop

  • 1
    Pressing that again will restore the windows – dbr Jun 16 '09 at 21:01

Starts or activates the window of the corresponding numbered icon in the quick launch bar. Since Vista / Server 2008.



Ctrl-X : Cut
Ctrl-C : Copy
Ctrl-V : Paste

are the ones I use the most!

Some other ones:

  • In most text-editors:

    Ctrl-F : Find
    Ctrl-H : Find and replace

  • In most browsers:

    Ctrl-T : Open new tab
    Ctrl-Click on link or Middle Mouse Button on link : open link in new tab


Shift + Delete - Used everytime i delete something, for deleting permanently instead of going trough recycle bin.

  • 1
    If you do it everytime you could also change the Recycle Bin Properties and check the box "Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted." Then you could uncheck "Display delete confirmation dialog" to be more dangerous. I like the shortcut you mentioned, sometimes I let it go to the recycle bin and other times I know I don't need it any more. – Bratch Jun 15 '09 at 18:37
  • Especially useful when you know what you're deleting is so large it will be too large to fit in the Recycle Bin – jacobsee Jun 16 '09 at 2:52
  • . o O ( Large pr0n movies? ) – romandas Aug 5 '09 at 20:04

After opening an Explorer window with Win+E, press Alt+D to get focus in the address bar (works in IE too)!

  • 2
    Or F6, but good one all the same. – Maximus Minimus Jun 15 '09 at 17:45
  • I use Alt-D all the time. – Bratch Jun 15 '09 at 18:38

Alt-F4 - the fast way to close a Window. Will also pop-up the log off/shut down dialog if the desktop has the focus.

  • Alt+F4 closes a parent program + child windows, Ctrl+W closes a window (try in a tabbed browser) – Andy Jun 15 '09 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Andy: Ctrl+W or Ctrl+F4, depending on the application, closes the child window. – voyager Jun 15 '09 at 20:47

My favourite is:

ALT + Print Screen - take screen shot of just the window you are looking at.

This saves me tons of time as I don't have to crop images when filing bug reports or documenting things for users.

  • Yes, but what about... Alt+Print Screen - just the window you are looking at – Mike McClelland Jun 15 '09 at 11:01
  • That sounds a bit better so I've updated the description alongside the key combo. – BenM Jun 15 '09 at 15:14

Rare but a godsend;

Alt + Space + (M or Down Arrow) + Arrow Keys

alt text http://helpmerick.com/images/wincontrolicon.gif

When you Remote Desktop/VNC etc into a PC that has a very large (or double/triple) monitor setup from a PC with only a single/small screen many windows will appear off screen (and worse yet may not show on the taskbar (e.g. Open File dialog from within an application)

Since you can't get your mouse to the application to move the window the above does the trick.

Alt + Space

Opens the little context menu on the titlebar of the application

M or Down Arrow

Goes to the Move option

Arrow Keys

Lets you safely return the offscreen window/dialog to some point on the screen where you can actually view it/ use it!

Edit: if you can see the taskbar, you can also just right click on the application in the taskbar and click "Move", then immediately (without moving the mouse) click and hold down the left mouse button then drag the window into view that way. this is the keystroke-less way to do it.

  • 1
    And once you hit the arrow key, jiggle the mouse a little and the window will jump to your mouse cursor. – jacobsee Jun 16 '09 at 2:54

Although not windows specific, I'm really using these alot:

  • Ctrl + ArrowLeft/ArrowRight - move cursor to the left/right
  • Ctrl + Shift + ArrowLeft/ArrowRight - move cursor to the left/right, selecting the text in between
  • Ctrl + Backspave - delete text one word at a time

If you have OneNote running in the notification area:

  • Windows-S: Snapshot part of display (drag mouse to select area).

Windows + V (after having http://stevemiller.net/puretext/ set to AutoRun)


Windows + Z (Launchy, although you need to install it first :-)

Out of the box, F7 on a command prompt springs to mind — displays a popup with the command history. Scroll to the command line you want and press enter to execute, or press cursor left or right to just paste it at the prompt for editing.

  • It's important to note that Launchy is user configurable. I've got it at Alt+F2 because I'm used to it in KDE, Gnome and Awesome, but will try to map it to Alt+Space as it seems quite comfortable. If you haven't installed it, do. N o w. – voyager Jun 15 '09 at 21:00
  • +1 for cmd + F7. Never knew about this one. – romandas Aug 5 '09 at 20:21

Another favorite of mine, especially when I find a workstaion unlocked, is Left Alt + left Shift + PrtScn, Enter, walk away. It toggles high-contrast mode and is easy enough to restore.

More here:

Keyboard Assistance and Shortcuts for Microsoft Products

List of the keyboard shortcuts that are available in Windows XP

  • Ahaha I'd completly forgotten about high contrast! Does anyone know if anyone actually uses this mode? I can't actually see how it makes it more readable for the visually impaired... – Mark Henderson Jun 16 '09 at 2:37

On Windows... CTRL+ALT+DELETE. If the system is not responding, that sometimes gets task manager up. It also gets you the change password option.

Also, on a remote terminal session, that can also bring up the 'shut down' dialog without needing to open a command prompt and shutdown the server.

Possibly its the most common keystroke there is!

  • 3
    Or ctrl+shift+escape gets task manager straight up – Mike McClelland Jun 15 '09 at 10:57
  • You mean ctrl-alt-delete, of course... ctrl-shift-esc for Task Manager. – tomfanning Jun 15 '09 at 11:46
  • nope, I meant C+A+D, I'm not sure about Vista but previously it would force the system to display the 6-button option screen that other keypresses would not. C+A+D is supposed to be a special interrupt that always overrides whatever else you have running. – gbjbaanb Jun 16 '09 at 8:34

Ctrl + L on most non-IE browsers get you to the address bar.

Ctrl + W or Ctrl + F4 on most applications is close window/close tab.

Ctrl + K on Firefox get you to the search box, and get you a code block on StackOverflow ;)

  • Careful, Control+W is usually 'Close Window' - F6 is another great way of getting to the URL bar. – Mark Henderson Jun 16 '09 at 2:30
  • My point is that some depend on the app. For example, Opera doesn't get you anywere with F6 ;) Ctrl+L works on all browsers. – voyager Jun 16 '09 at 20:57
  • Just realized, there was a typo, you were right Farseeker :S – voyager Jun 16 '09 at 20:59
  • Ooh, how do you get those fancy formatting around the shortcut keys? – Mark Henderson Jun 16 '09 at 21:38
  • <kbd>Ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>K</kbd>. Check stackoverflow.com/questions/31657/… ;) – voyager Jun 18 '09 at 2:17
  • Windows + L = lock
  • Windows + M = Show Desktop
  • Ctrl + c = copy
  • Ctrl + v = paste
  • Ctrl + k = In outlook, type part of someone's name in the "TO" box, it'll either autofill or give you a list of available choices.
  • Windows + Tab = cycle windows but all pretty like... neat on Aero (req vista/windows 7)
  • Alt + F4 = close current program.
  • Printscreen = take screenshot.
  • Alt + Printscreen = take screenshot of active window only. Great for documentation/emails

ALT + CTRL + '-' (minus) = Take a screen shot of the current active window in a remote desktop session

At a command prompt: CTRL + left|right arrow = skip to the next word boundary CTRL + END = delete from cursor to end of line


Here's one from the olden days that I still use:

Ctrl+Ins = Copy
Shift+Ins = Paste
Alt+Backspace = Undo

I know these are all replicated in other methods, but if they ever get depreciated I'll be annoyed!

  • Absolutely... Shift+Del for delete too! I use 'em all the time, and I'm lost in an editor that doesn't implement them. – Jim OHalloran Jun 16 '09 at 6:31

Alt + Shift

To toggle between languages. I can live without it here, but it is difficult to live without it when you are in China or Israel for example :-).

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