- Keyboard shortcuts can be a time-saver and a life-saver.
- Here, we focus on 11 keyboard shortcuts that everyone with a Windows operating system should know.
As someone who spends a large part of her day behind a screen for one reason or another, it’s important to me that the experience be as seamless as possible.
In part, this means testing keyboards for optimal wrist comfort and meticulously optimising my screen’s brightness for late-night scrolling, but it also means making the most of shortcuts my computer has already created for me.
While most people know the benefits of a desperate CTRL-Z stroke or the peace of mind that comes from remembering to press CTRL-S after adding the finishing touches to your latest masterpiece, there are many other keyboard shortcuts out there that could be making your life even better.
Here are 11 Windows keyboard shortcuts I can’t believe I ever lived without:
From time to time I find myself up against a deadline and buried under a mountain of paperwork that still needs to be read. I need to have at least some understanding of what the documents cover, but the idea of frantically scanning is painful.
Instead, I can try searching directly in the document using CTRL-F. By searching for keywords, I can whizz through my document and find the most relevant portions.
The process of adding documents one-by-one to my cloud storage or email attachment can be tedious and time consuming. If I wanted to attach all the documents, a simple CTRL-A would suffice, but for more selective uploads that solution isn’t always helpful.
Instead, I can press CTRL-Shift and simply select each document I’d like to add and have them all added at the same time.
In the age of multitasking, I often have multiple programs running on my computer at any given time. To cut through the noise I use CTRL-M to quickly minimise any other windows I may have opened and return to my desktop.
Another live saver for chronic multitaskers is the shortcut CTRL-W, which helps me close any program, tab, or window I have open without having to mouse over and manually exit. Without removing my hands from the keyboard, I simply continue pressing W until my screen has returned to a state of tranquility.
Caught watching cat videos at work or during a lecture? With one click of Windows-L I can lock my computer’s screen in a matter of seconds and escape an inevitable reprimand for being off-task – and better yet, get back to watching that cat when the coast is clear.
I often find myself overwhelmed by the number of tabs I’ve opened in my web browser and sometimes have trouble bringing myself to monotonously bookmark and close each one. But by using CTRL-D, I can automatically bookmark interesting pages as I open them and relieve myself (and my RAM) of the burden of 15-plus open tabs. But be careful not to select anything before you press it, or you might accidentally delete it.
A shortcut that embarrassingly eluded my knowledge for years, CTRL-PrtScr is the one-stop shop for all my screenshotting needs. If I want to capture an important message, funny photo, or video still, this shortcut will take a shot of my current screen and save it to my clipboard to be pasted wherever I choose.
You’ve probably heard about CTRL-V – the keyboard shortcut that allows you to paste items from your computer’s clipboard. But its cousin, CTRL-Shift-V, is equally if not more useful. This shortcut also allows me to paste from my clipboard, but it pastes everything as plain text, meaning that any strange formatting I might have brought over when I copied the item won’t disrupt the formatting I already have.
If you’ve ever fallen down a Google rabbit hole, you’ll know how important it is to be able to claw your way back out. By pressing Alt and either the right or left arrow key in a browser I can easily move backwards or forwards in my own search history and find my way back to where I started searching.
Ctrl-C is probably one of the most popular keyboard shortcuts, but actually selecting the text I want to copy can be frustrating with glitchy trackpads and mice. This shortcut allows me to more delicately select the exact text I want by using the arrow keys.
I have a nasty habit of overwhelming my browser (and myself) with many, many open tabs. Often the tabs are left open as a reminder to myself of something I need to do, so you can imagine my panic when those tabs are accidentally closed. But with CTRL-Shift-T, on a Google Chrome browser, I can easily rescue them from the grave. The shortcut lets me reopen any recently closed tabs and saves me the trouble of starting my searching again from scratch.
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