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Information Technology Help Desk

Popular Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

There are many, many keyboard shortcuts available in Windows-based applications, but this is true for the Windows Operating System as well. These shortcuts can speed up the process of working in Windows. Here are some of the more common keyboard shortcuts used in Windows. They are quite useful when the computer mouse fails you. Some of them may also increase the efficiency with which you use programs.


The Windows key is the one with the Windows logo. The Application key is the one with the illustration of a mouse pointer selecting from a menu. Note that many keyboards have two Alt keys and two Ctrl keys, and some key combinations work with one but not with the other. For a more complete list of available shortcuts, visit Microsoft's web site by clicking here.




Navigating through Windows and Applications in General

These shortcuts aren't necessarily part of Windows itself, but they are supported by many applications:

Windows-D (Desktop)

This is very much like the Windows-M shortcut above, and is just a quick way to get to the desktop.

Shift-Windows-M

If you press Shift, the Windows Key, and the M key together, this restores the minimized windows from the above shortcuts Windows-M and Windows-D.

Windows-R (Run)

If you press the Windows Key and the R key together, then this is a quicker way to access the Run Dialog Box than clicking Start then Run.

Windows-F (Find)

If you press the Windows Key and the F key together, then this brings up the Windows Search screen so you can search your computer and its resources given certain criteria.

Windows-E (Explorer)

If you press the Windows Key (near the ALT key) and the E key, then this launches Explorer. This can be helpful when you want to quickly browse your computer, its resources, folders and drives.

Windows-M (Minimize)

If you press the Windows Key and the M key together, this minimizes all windows.

Windows-D (Desktop)

This is very much like the Windows-M shortcut above, and is just a quick way to get to the desktop.

Shift-Windows-M

If you press Shift, the Windows Key, and the M key together, this restores the minimized windows from the above shortcuts Windows-M and Windows-D.

Windows-L (Lock)

Do you ever get tired of waiting for your screen saver to start so that you know your machine is password protected or "locked" while you are logged into it. Wait no more! If you hold down the Windows Key with the L key, then this instantly locks the machine.

Ctrl-Shift-Esc (Task Manager)

This key sequence of the Control Key, Shift Key, and Escape Key brings up the Task Manager which can be used to end processes that are not responding. CAUTION: Do not end any applications/tasks/processes with which you are unfamiliar because this can cause your system to shutdown, become unstable, or reboot!

Ctrl-W (Close)

Control-W closes the active window.

Alt-F4 (Exit)

Alt-F4 is more thorough than Ctrl-W. Holding down the Alt Key with the F4 Key will close the active window or application. If this shortcut is used at the desktop, it brings up the Shutdown Windows Dialog Box.

Alt-Enter (Properties)

If an icon is selected on the desktop, then Alt-Enter shows the properties.

Holding Shift when inserting a CD

Holding Shift when inserting a CD prevents the CD from automatically running.

Alt-Tab (Toggle)

If you hold down Alt and then tap the Tab key, it will navigate between applications and windows that are currently open. If you let go of the Alt Key, then you will select the highlighted window/application. Make sure that you only tap the Tab Key. Do not hold the Tab Key down.

F5 (Refresh)

Refreshes the current screen, window, application, or web page.

Ctrl-C (Copy)

Control-C copies. In an application, this may be the text or cells. In an Explorer window, this may be a file or a folder. On the desktop, it may be the selected icon, folder, or program.

Ctrl-X (Cut)

Control-X cuts. This can be useful such as when moving text in an application to paste it somewhere else or when moving a file or folder in an Explorer window from one resource to another. Use with CAUTION when moving folders or files as moving them to the wrong place could cause your system to not function correctly!

Ctrl-V (Paste)

Control-V pastes. This is the shortcut used after copying or cutting as described above. It can be used with text, folders, files, icons, etc., depending on what you have copied or cut.

Ctrl-A (Select All)

Control-A selects all. In an application, this may be all the text or cells. In an Explorer window, it may be all the folders or files. On the desktop, it is all the icons. CAUTION: Do not hit the Delete Key when using this shortcut! Use Cut and Paste shortcuts with caution as Cut may work like deleting all and Paste will replace.

Ctrl-Z (Undo)

Control-Z or Alt-Backspace are shortcuts for Undo. This can Undo pastes and cuts and even actions in some applications, even repeatedly. CAUTION: This shortcut does not relieve the user of the above CAUTION statements.

Ctrl-Y

Undoes the last undo (or redoes).

Ctrl-P (Print)

Control-P is the shortcut to print when using an application.

F1 (Help)

Pressing F1 launches help.

Control-Esc or Windows Key

Holding down the Control and Escape keys together is the same as pressing the Windows Key. This brings up the Start Menu.

Shift-F10 (Quick Menu)

Pressing the Shift Key and F10 Key together functions like a right click from the mouse, which launches the Quick Menu. On the desktop, if no icon is selected, this shortcut is like right clicking the desktop. If an icon is selected, then this shortcut behaves like right clicking the icon. In an application, this shortcut is like right clicking the screen.

Print Screen

Pressing this key captures an image of the screen.

Alt-Print Screen

Pressing Alt and then Print Screen captures an image of the active window.

Ctrl-S

Saves your current work to disk.

Ctrl-O

Opens a new document.

Ctrl-I

Turns italics on or off.

Ctrl-B

Turns bold on or off.

Ctrl-U

Turns underlining on or off.

Ctrl-F and F3

Launch the program's search or find tool. At the Desktop, F3 opens the "Find files or folders" window

Ctrl-Home

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the open file or document.

Ctrl-End

Moves the cursor to the end of the open file or document.

Ctrl-Tab, Ctrl-Shift-Tab, Ctrl-Page Down, and Ctrl-Page Up

Move you from tab to tab in a dialog box.



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Microsoft Office 2000 and 2002:

Ctrl-C twice

displays Office's clipboard.

Ctrl-Down Arrow

expands the currently displayed menu to full length.

F5 or Ctrl-G

opens the Go To dialog.

Shift-F5

takes you to a previous revision--or in a newly opened document, to where the insertion point was when the document was last closed.

F7

launches the spelling checker.



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Microsoft Word 2000 and 2002:

Ctrl-Space

turns on default formatting (Normal style) for subsequent typing or the current selection.

Ctrl-0 (zero above the letter keys)

adds or removes a line's worth of spacing above the current paragraph(s).

Ctrl-1 (above the letter keys)

converts the current paragraph or selected paragraphs to single-line spaces.

Ctrl-2 (above the letter keys)

double-spaces the current paragraph(s).

Ctrl-5 (above the letter keys)

applies 1.5-line spacing to the current paragraph(s).

Alt-5 (on the numeric keypad)

selects the entire current table.

Alt-Shift-D

inserts an updating date.

Alt-Shift-T

inserts an updating time.

Shift-F7

launches the thesaurus.



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Excel 2000 and 2002:

Ctrl-Space

selects the current column.

Shift-Space

selects the current row.

Ctrl-Semicolon

inserts the date.

Ctrl-Colon

inserts the time.

Ctrl-Double Quote

enters a copy of the cell above (without formatting).

Ctrl-1

will bring up the Excel Format Cells dialog box.

Ctrl-Page Up and Ctrl-Page Down

move up and down through worksheets.

Ctrl-Enter

instead of just Enter after entering data into one of several preselected cells will put the data in all those cells.



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Internet Explorer:

Please visit Internet Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts.



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