Revolutionize the way you use Windows with keyboard shortcuts.

Did you know that you can control most of the program in windows just by using keyboard shortcuts, without touching your mouse? In this I am going to discuss different keyboard shortcuts to access menu options, control text, switching between taskbar program, control different programs, capture screen shortcuts and much more. 

01. Access Menu Options using Keyboard Shortcuts.

Programs that use menus let you access their options using keyboard shortcuts, so you can navigate around them even if you don’t have a mouse.

The relevant keyboard shortcut is indicated by an underlined character. If you can’t see any, switch them on from the Windows 10 Settings by clicking ‘Ease of Access’, Keyboard, then scrolling down on the right and turning on ‘Underline access keys when available’.

To test how this works, open Notepad. As you can see in the screengrab on the right, the ‘F’ in the File menu is underlined, which means Alt+F opens it.

notepad shortcuts

Each option on the menu has an underlined letter, such as ‘S’ in Save, so once the menu is open, you simply press the letter. Instead of using the mouse to click open the File menu and select Save, just press Alt+F, then S. This works in lots of programs, not just Microsoft ones.

02. Learn Basic Keyboard Shortcuts.

Menu shortcuts let you quickly open menus but there are faster ways to access their features. The next time you use a menu in a program, look to see if it displays a direct shortcut to its right.

  • In Notepad for example, as described above, you need two lots of key presses – Alt+F then S – to save a file. But if you use the direct shortcut – Ctrl+S – you achieve the same result with one.

  • The next option down – Save As – lets you press Ctrl+Shift+S to save the file in a different file the format or give it a new name.

It’s also useful if you want to preserve the original draft of a document you are working on and save any changes you’ve made separately.

03. Keyboard Shortcuts Use in Text.

Some functions are common to all programs and use the same keyboard shortcuts. 

Ctrl+S can be used in most programs with a Save option, and Ctrl+P is often used to print while pressing Ctrl+C copies selected text and Ctrl+X cuts it. You can then move the text cursor and press Ctrl+V to paste it.

If you don’t want to use a mouse to select the text, press Shift+right arrow or Shift+left arrow to select text to the right or left of the cursor position. Shift+up and Shift+down selects whole lines of text above or below the cursor. Ctrl+A selects everything.

Once your text is selected, pressing the left or right arrow keys moves the cursor to the start or end of the selection.

Ctrl+B, Ctrl+i and Ctrl+U are common shortcuts to switch to bold, italic and underline. Press the key combination again to switch it off. You can use these formatting shortcuts to save going through menus in Word, WordPress, emails, and more.

An extra shortcut in Gmail is Ctrl+Enter, which sends the email.

Shortcuts can be used in unexpected places, such as websites, when you’re typing forms and comments on web pages or writing social media posts, and can sometimes be used in places where there are no formatting buttons available to click with a mouse. 

When typing a Facebook post, for example, the text can be edited with the Cut, Copy and Paste keyboard shortcuts.

04. Start and switch to Taskbar programs using a keyboard shortcut.

Does it matter how you order the icons on your taskbar? 

Yes, because pressing Windows+1 switches to the first program, Windows+2 the second, Windows+3 the third and so on.

Run a program – such as Chrome, for example – and you’ll see an icon appear on the taskbar. Right-click this and select ‘Pin to taskbar’.

You can now click and drag your taskbar icons left or right to rearrange them and place your most used items first.

There’s no need to reach for the mouse to launch them, just press Windows+n, where ‘n’ is the number of the icon. 

Note: Ignore Cortana and Task View icons, Edge is usually number one (unless you’ve already removed it).

05. Toggle between programs using a keyboard shortcut.

If you have two, three or more programs running simultaneously, press Alt+Tab to switch to the last program used.

Hold down Alt and repeatedly press Tab to cycle through all running programs, then let go when the one you want is selected. This shortcut can also be used to close programs.

use shortcuts to toggle between the program

If several programs are running, hold down Alt and press Tab until the program you want is highlighted, then press Delete (while still holding down Alt) to close it.

Windows+Tab works in a similar way and it can be used with multiple desktops, too. Press Windows+Tab to display your desktops at the top of the screen, allowing you to create new virtual desktops (click the plus icon) and select them.

Don’t go through this screen to switch desktops, though – instead, press Ctrl+Windows+left/right arrow keys to switch to the previous or next desktop.

06. Capture your screen using a keyboard shortcut.

The Print Screen key, often abbreviated to Print Scrn or PrtScn, saves a screenshot to the clipboard. Windows+PrtScn saves it to Pictures\ Screenshots.

You can change this in Windows 10 by opening Settings and going to ‘Ease of Access’, then Keyboard.

Scroll down to the ‘Print Screen shortcut’ section and switch to opening the screen-snipping tool instead of saving the screen.

print screen shortcut settings

Press Windows+Shift+S to capture whole screens or to snip and save part of the screen.

A toolbar appears at the top of the screen with screen saving options. Let the mouse hover over each icon to see the description.

07. Use shortcuts to start programs. 

Instead of hunting for programs in the Start menu or clicking around the icons on the taskbar, you could create your own keyboard shortcuts to run them.

create shortcuts for different programs

Right-click the desktop and select New, Shortcut, then click the Browse button and find a program on your hard drive, such as ‘notepad.exe’ in the C:\Windows folder.

Click Next and name it Notepad (or whatever it’s called).

Right-click your newly created desktop shortcut and select Properties, then open the Shortcut tab, click the ‘Shortcut key’ box and assign it a key combination, such as Shift+Alt+N.

You’ll have to use trial and error to find a key combination that isn’t already assigned elsewhere.

Click OK and you can now use this keyboard shortcut to launch the program, no matter what you’re doing or which program you’re using.

08. Control programs using keyboard shortcuts.

There are some useful commands that can be used in most programs, such as pressing the Tab key to move to the next option.

In programs and web pages, when filling in a form such as a login or registration, pressing Tab jumps to the next box, while Shift+Tab jumps to the previous box. This works with other controls and not just text boxes.

Open the Settings app in Windows 10 and pick a section. Press Tab and the currently selected item, indicated by a box around it, jumps to the next item. Open Explorer, click Home to open the home ribbon toolbar and tap Tab.

Each toolbar item highlights in turn. Pressing Enter is like clicking the selected item. Click a web page and you can often press Tab and Shift+Tab to jump from link to link. Pressing Enter is like clicking a link.

You can open the run box to start a program – it’s most often used with system tools. Press Windows+R to open the run box, then type regedit, cmd, services.msc, msconfig or diskmgmt.msc for example.

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