When it comes to keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Windows 7, I used to fall back on the menu system or, now that it is available by default in Windows 7, I used to use the search box located on the Start Menu. But, as the following list shows us, there are definitely opportunities for increased efficiency within the matrix of keyboard shortcuts.

I’ve always liked that Windows gives me multiple ways to perform popular tasks. Say you want to print something. You could go to the File menu and select the Print command, or you can press the Ctrl button and the letter P. Ctrl+P is just one example of a keyboard shortcut. Shortcuts combine two or more keys to do something special that neither key does alone.

I prefer to use shortcuts whenever possible. It’s kind of amazing how much time you can save by cutting out mouse clicks. Here are some shortcuts that you might not know about—but should.

Get to know the basics

There are certain shortcuts I use all day, every day. They work whether I’m doing stuff with photos, music, documents, or spreadsheets.

  • Copy a selected item: Ctrl + C
  • Cut a selected item: Ctrl + X
  • Paste a selected item: Ctrl + V
  • Undo an action: Ctrl + Z
  • Redo that thing I just undid: Ctrl + Y
  • Select everything: Ctrl + A
  • Print: Ctrl + P
  • Go to next text input in a form: Tab
  • Go to previous text input in a form: Shift + Tab
  • Move to next tab in a program settings window or a browser: Ctrl + Tab
  • Move to previous tab in a program settings window or a browser: Ctrl + Shift + Tab
  • Open the Start Menu: Ctrl+Esc
  • Switch between open windows: Alt+Tab

You might already be using a shortcut—Ctrl+Alt+Delete—to open up Task Manager or to lock your computer. But there is an easier shortcut to get to the task manager.

  • Open Task Manager: Ctrl + Shift + Esc

This simple shortcut whisks you straight to Task Manager without any intermediary steps.

One of the more powerful, and probably least used, set of keyboard shortcuts involves the Windows Logo key, which is common on most keyboards packaged with a Windows-based personal computer these days.

Table A lists the keyboard shortcut combinations associated with the Windows Logo key and what each combination will do.

Table A – Source Microsoft

Key combination

Action

Windows logo key Open or close the Start menu.
Windows logo key + Pause Display the System Properties dialog box.
Windows logo key + D Display the desktop.
Windows logo key + M Minimize all windows.
Windows logo key + Shift + M Restore minimized windows to the desktop.
Windows logo key + E Open Computer.
Windows logo key + F Search for a file or folder.
Ctrl + Windows logo key + F Search for computers (if you’re on a network).
Windows logo key + L Lock your computer or switch users.
Windows logo key + R Open the Run dialog box.
Windows logo key + T Cycle through programs on the taskbar.
Windows logo key + number Start the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the program is already running, switch to that program.
Shift + Windows logo key + number Start a new instance of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Ctrl + Windows logo key + number Switch to the last active window of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Alt + Windows logo key + number Open the Jump List for the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Windows logo key + Tab Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.
Ctrl + Windows logo key + Tab Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.
Ctrl + Windows logo key + B Switch to the program that displayed a message in the notification area.
Windows logo key + Spacebar Preview the desktop.
Windows logo key +  Up Arrow Maximize the window.
Windows logo key + Left Arrow Maximize the window to the left side of the screen.
Windows logo key + Right Arrow Maximize the window to the right side of the screen.
Windows logo key + Down Arrow Minimize the window.
Windows logo key + Home Minimize all but the active window.
Windows logo key + Shift + Up Arrow Stretch the window to the top and bottom of the screen.
Windows logo key + Shift + Left or Right Arrow Move a window from one monitor to another.
Windows logo key + P Choose a presentation display mode.
Windows logo key + G Cycle through gadgets.
Windows logo key + U Open Ease of Access Center.
Windows logo key + X Open Windows Mobility Center.
Windows logo key + F1 Open the help windows to assist in understanding
Windows logo key + Shift+Click a taskbar icon Open a new instance of a program
Windows logo key + Plus Sign or Minus Sign Zoom in, zoom out. The (+) zooms you in, the (-) zooms you out


For more keyboard shortcuts, check out the complete list.