Top 12 Most Useful Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

By Chris David

Computers have grown more user friendly, more and more visual. And more intuitive. Point and click. Touch and tap. Zoom and scroll. But remember the keyboard? That physical device sitting in front of your monitor? You can use the keyboard for a lot more than just typing. These are the twelve most useful keyboard shortcuts for the Windows operating system!

Get things done, and get them done faster, with keyboard shortcuts. Open programs, save your documents and move text around like a pro. For computer novices, here’s how most keyboard shortcuts work. Hold down the first key, then hit the second. Simple right?

Remember to hit the combination only once, or you’ll duplicate the action. Note: On most keyboards, the Windows key is the key between Control and Alt.

Control + A

Select all items. Inside documents and emails, this shortcut will select all text. In Windows file explorer, it will select all files and folders in the current view.

Control + C

Copy selected item(s) to clipboard. You can copy text, images, documents and files, depending on the context. The clipboard is a built-in program that will temporarily store whatever you need.

Control + V

Paste from clipboard. Take whatever you have on the clipboard on paste it to a new destination. Works for text, images, files and folders.

Control + X

Cut (delete) from current context and place a copy on the clipboard. Then you can paste the information somewhere else using Control + V.

Control + Z

Undo the previous action. Made a mistake in your document or accidentally moved a file? You can undo whatever you just did. You can also redo the prior action with Control + Y.

Control + S

In most programs, Control + S saves the current document. This shortcut can be a lifesaver when you want to make sure you don’t lose any work.

Control + N

Create new. The exact functionality will vary by program. In most cases, Control + N creates a new document / window.

Windows + L

Pros know you should never leave your computer screen open and unattended. Walking away from your desk for a few minutes? Lock the screen with Windows key + L.

Windows + E

Open file explorer. Will open a new file explorer window in whatever default location you have set, either PC or your quick access folder.

Windows + D

Minimize all windows and show the desktop. Handy for when you have many programs open but you need access to something on your desktop.

Windows + Tab

Show all open programs in a popup view. This is similar to Alt + Tab, but shows open programs and their contents in greater detail.

Shift + Del

Be careful with this one. In file explorer, Shift + Del will delete the selected file(s) and folder(s), skipping the recycle bin. Useful for when you want to get rid of a file straight away.

Honorable mentions

Alt + F4

Close current window or program. If you have open documents, programs will ask if you want to save. If you hit this combo from the desktop, Windows will prompt you to restart, shut down or switch users.

Control + Alt + Esc

Open task manager. Useful for when you want to end a hung program, check system processes or see what’s taking up all your memory.

Windows + R

Open the Windows run command. This shortcut is mainly useful for running built-in commands and system utilities. For example, you want to open Control Panel? Hit Windows key + R and type “control”.


Go from computer novice to power user with keyboard shortcuts. Use shortcuts responsibly, and get your work done faster than ever before. And here’s one final shortcut… In file explorer and web browsers, the F5 key will refresh the current page or screen.

Now that you’re going pro, learn how to protect your computer from ransomware attacks.

Want to show off your own favorite keyboard shortcut for Windows, Word or file explorer? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Top 12 Most Useful Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Shoo

    win+tab is ok but you forgot alt tab

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