Your mouse may be a trusty companion, but keyboard shortcuts reign supreme to navigate lightning-fast. You can save precious seconds with each action by relying on key combinations instead of mouse clicks because your hands are already on the keyboard.
According to Brainscape, you can claw back 8 days of productivity in a year by regularly using keyboard shortcuts because it takes an average extra 2 seconds every minute to move your hand to the mouse and back.
Get ready to leave your mouse in the dust! Embrace the power of your keyboard and streamline your workflow across all Windows platforms, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. These basic shortcuts are the keys to unlocking seamless efficiency and maximum output.
Basic keyboard shortcuts
You probably already use basic keyboard shortcuts such as Enter to start a new paragraph, Shift to capitalize words, or F5 to refresh your screen. Dozens of others are just as easy to learn and will save you a ton of time over weeks and months.
As Microsoft continues to upgrade its versions with Windows 10 or 11, currently recommended, it includes basic Windows keyboard shortcuts that have been used since the start.
How do I use keyboard shortcuts?
As keyboards and computers changed, other buttons began to be used for different functions, but most older shortcuts use the Control (CTRL) or ALT button plus another key. Regardless of which buttons are used, it is as simple as pressing and holding down the, e.g., CTRL button and then tapping the other key.
Below is a list of commonly used shortcuts for Windows 10 and 11. Once you memorize them, you will wonder why you have never tried this before.
Best Control (CTRL) Windows Shortcuts
1) CTRL + A: Select all text in the open document or window
Using CTRL + A instantly selects everything in the document so you can copy, delete or edit it. This means you can change the font size, margins, or any other feature across the whole document or window using CTRL + A.
2) CTRL + B: Toggle switch for bold
CTRL + B is a toggle switch that will bold all the selected text. Press it again to turn bold off. Practice by pressing CTRL + B and typing words in bold. Then press the keys again to change it back to plain text.
3) CTRL + C: Copy text or image
Tired of repeatedly typing the same thing? Select the words or image you want to use again and press CTRL + C to copy. Paste it into another document or somewhere within the same document using CTRL + V.
4) CTRL + D: Delete a document or folder
When working in File Explorer, you can delete a document or an entire folder using CTRL + D.
When in Microsoft Word, using CTRL + D opens the style editing window.
5) CTRL + E: Search from File explorer or your browser
CTRL + E lets you quickly search in either File Explorer or your browser by taking you directly to the search feature.
When working within a Word document, CTRL + E will toggle between left and center alignment, speedily changing the appearance of your text.
6) CTRL + F: Find
Whether in a document or on a webpage, CTRL + F will save you loads of frustration by rapidly finding the word or sentence you know is there but can't see.
7) CTRL + H: Replace
Just realized you have repeatedly misspelled a word in a 20,000-word essay. CTRL + H will find and change them for you in seconds – remember to click the More button to refine the search to match the word's case, for instance.
8) CTRL + S: Save
Whenever you want to save your document, use CTRL + S and prevent the risk of losing your work.
9) CTRL + V: Paste the last text or image you copied
After using CTRL + C to copy something or CTRL + X to cut it, use CTRL + V to place it elsewhere in the same document or another.
10) CTRL + W: Close
Someone walks into the room, and you want to close the app or document you have open on your screen? Use CTRL + W, and it will disappear in a flash. Note: you won't lose unsaved information in documents as the prompt to save will appear.
11) CTRL + X: Cut
In word processing, highlight or select a word, image, section, or word and press CTRL + X to make it disappear. You can then use CTRL + V to paste the item you just cut somewhere else.
CTRL + X leaves the selected item in its current position in Excel until you have pressed CTRL + V in the new cell or Delete to remove it entirely.
12) CTRL + Z: Undo
Everyone occasionally loses concentration for a second and accidentally deletes a file or zaps an entire page of writing or photographs. CTRL + Z reverses this – putting it back - making it possibly one of the most helpful keyboard shortcuts.
13) CTRL + Y: Undo the undo
If, after using CTRL + Z, you suddenly think, "No that's wrong, I don't want that paragraph in my work." All you need to do is press CTRL + Y, and your paragraph, image, or file will disappear again.
14) CTRL + ALT + DELETE: Open the Task Manager
Has everything frozen, and you aren't able to move? Hold CTRL + Alt + Delete simultaneously to open Task Manager to work out what is causing the problem and to shut it down.
15) 25RL + Mouse Wheel: Zoom in or out
Hold the CTRL button down while moving the mouse wheel to zoom in or out of the window you are viewing. Also works in your browser.
Moving through your word processor or App
Quickly moving through your document with minimal hand movement is also a great time saver.
- When the Page up button is used by itself, the cursor will move to the top of the previous page/screen, and similarly, the Page Down button will move the cursor to the next one.
- Tapping the End button will take you to the end of the line your cursor is on, and the Home button will take you to the start.
- Use CTRL + Right arrow to move to the start of the next word and CTRL + Left arrow to move in the opposite direction.
- CTRL + End takes you to the end of the document or window, and CTRL + Home takes you to the start.
- Use CTRL + Shift + Right arrow to select a word to the right and CTRL + Shift + Left arrow to select in the opposite direction. CTRL + Shift + Up arrow and CTRL + Shift + Down arrow to select a row.
Best Alt Windows Shortcuts
1) ALT + T: Open a new browser tab
You won't need to click on the plus sign at the top of the browser screen once you memorize this one. Use ALT + T in any web browser to open another tab.
2) ALT + TAB: Flick through open apps
To see what you have been recently working on or to switch from one program to another, use ALT + TAB.
3) ALT + F4: Close open apps
To close an open app or document without following the program's closing procedure, press ALT + F4. If you are exiting a program that needs saving, a prompt will still appear to prevent losing data.
Best Windows Logo Key (WIN) Shortcuts
1) Windows logo key: Start menu
Pressing the Windows logo key on its own opens the Start Menu, giving you instant access to apps, settings, and other features you might need.
2) Windows logo key + left arrow or right arrow: Move the window to the left or right of your screen
If you don't have two screens, then using the Windows logo key + left or right arrow could be handy to compare two documents or windows easily.
3) Windows logo key + L: Lock your computer
From any program and for security, when you walk away from your computer, press Windows logo key + L to lock it and prevent other people from looking at or editing your work.
4) Windows logo key + M or +D: Go to your desktop
If you love to multitask, then Windows logo key + M or Windows logo key + D are extremely helpful as they take you straight to the desktop without moving your hands away from the keyboard. Providing you don't open anything on the desktop. Then, Windows logo key + Shift + M or Windows logo key + D will take you back to your open document.
5) Windows logo key + T: Cycle through the apps on your taskbar
This is a brilliant way to open the correct app when needed. Use Windows logo key + T to tap through the apps and press Enter to select.
6) Windows logo key + X: Opens the quick link bar
Another speedy time saver is the Windows logo key + X that opens the quick link bar, letting you choose another app or file.
Incorporating Windows keyboard shortcuts into your daily routine will improve productivity and efficiency. You can focus more on your work and get things done faster by reducing the time spent on repetitive actions and mouse movements. Also, look at our type faster guide.
Take the time to learn and master these essential Windows keyboard shortcuts and witness a noticeable difference in your workflow. Don't let the mouse hold you back any longer, unlock the full potential of your keyboard today!
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.