Top 20 Keyboard Shortcuts everyone should know

Keyboard shortcuts can speed up your productivity on a computer significantly. They usually replace multiple operations that are performed with the mouse with a set of keys that you need to press more or less simultaneously. Take the opening of the Windows Task Manager for instance. If you use the keyboard, you simply use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the task manager on the system. Without the shortcut, you would have to search for the task manager (for instance in the start menu) to load it from there.

The following list highlights twenty important keyboard shortcuts that computer users should be familiar with.

Program shortcuts

  • Ctrl-a highlights everything in a folder or document.
  • Ctrl-c copies the selected item or text to the clipboard.
  • Ctrl-v pastes the contents of the clipboard into the active program.
  • Ctrl-f opens the search in many programs. All web browsers and the majority of Office applications for instance support this. F3 may work sometimes as well.
  • Ctlr-s saves a document or web page in many programs, including Office and web browsers.
  • Ctrl-z undos the last action.
  • Ctrl-left arrow moves the cursor to the beginning of the previous word, while Ctrl-right arrow to the beginning of the next word.
  • Ctrl-Shift-left arrow or right arrow highlights the full previous or next word.
  • Ctrl-Backspace deletes the word on the left of the cursor.
  • Ctrl-Home moves the cursor to the top of the document, while Ctrl-End to the end of it.
  • Esc cancels the current task.

Windows shortcuts

  • Ctrl-Shift-Esc opens the Windows Task Manager. (Windows 7 and newer)
  • Ctrl-Shift-click on a taskbar icon to open the program with administrative privileges.(Windows 7 and newer)
  • Shift-click on a taskbar icon to launch another instance of the program
  • Alt-Tab lets you switch between open programs and windows, Alt-Shift-Tab walks through the listing backwards.
  • Alt-F4 closes the active item or exits the active program
  • Alt-Esc cycles through the list of open programs in the order they have been opened.
  • Windows-d displays the desktop, while Windows-m minimizes all windows to show the desktop, and Windows-Shift-m restores the windows to their original position.
  • Windows-e opens My Computer in Windows Explorer
  • Windows-r opens the run box to start programs from there.

You find a full list of keyboard shortcuts for Windows at the Microsoft Products website. Shortcuts are listed here for all recent operating systems and other Microsoft products such as Office or Internet Explorer.

Have another shortcut that you make use of all the time? Let us know about it in the comments.

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Responses to Top 20 Keyboard Shortcuts everyone should know

  1. Oz July 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Ctrl+Shift+Esc worked back in XP

  2. Rirath July 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    "Alt-Tab lets you switch between open programs and windows, Alt-Shift-Tab walks through the listing backwards. Also works in web browsers and many other tab-driven programs."

    Alt tab doesn't work for browsers, otherwise the "alt+tab" functionality wouldn't work at all if other apps took it over. Are you perhaps thinking of Ctrl+tab and ctrl+shift+tab, which often lets you change browser tabs?

    • Martin Brinkmann July 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      It is Ctrl-Tab, you are right. Have removed the sentence from the article.

  3. Redial July 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Ctrl-left arrow moves the cursor to the beginning of the previous word, while Ctrl-right arrow to the beginning of the next word.
    Ctrl-Shift-left arrow or right arrow highlights the full previous or next word.
    Windows-e opens My Computer in Windows Explorer

    These was new for me, thanks!

  4. Roy July 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Agree with Oz re XP - it's also a quick way to open task manager during logon, before malware can disable it

    I use Alt-PrintScreen a lot to grab a screenshot of only the open window instead of the whole desktop

  5. Seban July 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    In Win 7:
    Windows-1-9: start software that's pinned to the taskbar, minimize/maximize running software

    Windows-t: switch through software in taskbar, enter to maximize

    Windows-tab = alt-tab with another look (although I prefer alt-tab)

    Windows-p: choose monitor(s) if using multiple monitors

    Windows-arrows: arrange the open window (move to left, right, maximized)

    Windows-shift-arrows: switch the open window to another monitor

    Windows-f: search

    Windows-L: lock Windows

  6. Jim Cone July 2, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Believe the caption should read "know" not "now"

    • Sina July 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Exactly what I want to pointing out.

  7. Seban July 2, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Just used another shortcut I forgot to post :D

    ctrl-shift-n creates a new folder in windows explorer

  8. kostas July 2, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    You might want to specify that most of these shortcuts are Windows-specific. It's not the 90s anymore, people have different OS on their PC :-p

  9. Mats Svensson July 2, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Dont forget the most important one:
    Ctrl+A+A

  10. XVRacerik July 2, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    in the address bar type the shot name of any .com, .org or .net site and then hit ctrl+enter and it will go to the site by putting in the http and the suffix for you. works in firefox and exploder

    • XVRacerik July 2, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      example: to go to yahoo.com type 'yahoo' then hit ctrl+enter.

  11. Ravi Joshi July 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    One shortcut that often goes unmentioned is Ctrl+w to close a window (similar to ctrl+f4 or Alt+F4). It can be used to close tabs in IE,Firefox. Can be used to closed Windows Explorer. I find this shortcut very useful personally.

    • cezi July 3, 2012 at 3:11 am #

      in firefox you can do it even easier with addon "escape to close tab"

  12. kktkkr July 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Yeah, it seems the article just missed all the browser-specific shortcuts. The main ones are:
    Ctrl-T: open new tab
    Ctrl-Shift-T: open last closed tab
    F5: Refresh, but there's usually a cacheless refresh shortcut too!
    Ctrl-H: History, and in firefox Ctrl-Shift-H is sometimes useful.
    Ctrl-J: Downloads
    Ctrl-F: find, but F3 works too, and Firefox allows slash to quick-find.
    Ctrl-Tab, Ctrl-Shift-Tab: next and previous tab
    Ctrl-F4: Close current tab.
    Esc: Stop loading the page (useful for large pages that you only need the first part of). This is in the "Program shortcuts" section above, but many people forget about it!

    • Martin Brinkmann July 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      I did not want to add application-specific shortcuts to the listing. I do have to admit though that I'm using many of the shortcuts that you have listed on a regular basis.

  13. Pranav July 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks for this educating article :)

  14. jay July 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I believe there is a mistype in the title:
    Top 20 Keyboard Shortcuts
    everyone should (now) should be know?

  15. Nacho October 28, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    crtl-y to redo something if you change your mind after using crtl-z
    super useful in my opinion!!

  16. Tashkin May 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Awsome posts! Learning many stuff now-a-days :-) I also found some keywords short cut from here

    http://www.widerinfo.com/top-15-keyboard-shortcuts-you-should-know/

  17. Gopal May 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    article just missed all the browser-specific shortcuts.
    Ctrl-H: History, and in firefox Ctrl-Shift-H is sometimes useful.
    Ctrl-J: Downloads
    Ctrl-F: find, but F3 works too, and Firefox allows slash to quick-find.
    Ctrl-Tab, Ctrl-Shift-Tab: next and previous tab
    Ctrl-F4: Close current tab.u

  18. Dinesh Kumar February 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Windows - up arrow : To Restore Up and Maximize the program/Documents.
    windows - Down arrow : To Restore Down and Minimize the program/Documents.
    Windows - Tap : lets you switch between open programs in running mode.

  19. Gabriela Carvalho March 31, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    Ctrl+9 to hide rows in Excel (and Ctrl+Shift+9 to unhide).

  20. Rego Fernando April 6, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    ctrl-c / ctrl-v in my opinion the operations with greater ability to optimize the working time

  21. Rego Fernando April 6, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    Thanks for the tutorial, very appropriate

  22. Venkateswara Sanivarapu August 1, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

    I use Ctrl+p to print the screen

  23. Anonymous September 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    which anti virus software is best

  24. Ananth May 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    Ctrl+Alt+Del opens the task manager (not directly but by selecting from the pop up list ).This shortcut will be definitely useful when any programs hangs up and stranded pcs.

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