Super UserFavourite lesser known keyboard shortcuts in Windows
[+38] [35] Richard Szalay
[2009-07-31 14:29:40]
[ windows keyboard keyboard-shortcuts ]

What are your favourite less well known keyboard shortcuts in Windows?

Here are a few of my favourites to get things started:

And general text selection:

Edit: Just remembered this one

System Properties are accessed with Win+Pause, not Win+PrintScreen. - Joey
Actually, it's win + break ;-) - fretje
I have Capslock set to hide (not minimize) any active windows instead of it's native function. Does that count? - Grant
@random - This question was fine for 2 years, why was it recently classified as "not constructive"? - Richard Szalay
It was bumped up by the Community user bot. It would have been closed earlier if spotted earlier. - random
[+32] [2009-07-31 14:49:31] in.spite
(11) Shame on you, providing useful information. - quark
Thanks for the bookmark :) - 280Z28
[+32] [2009-07-31 15:15:22] JohnFx

F7 (At the command line) Opens a popup menu of recently used commands.

There are actually a number of these handy command line shortcuts as I discussed in this article [1].


It works in powershell too! - Dog Ears
wow, new one for me, nice - Jeff F.
[+24] [2009-07-31 14:56:46] joe

Ctrl + Num + (the '+' key on the keypad) - Automatically adjust the widths of all the columns in Windows Explorer.

Wow, I've been really needing this shortcut, esp. with Win 7! Too bad it has to be the num pad '+' key :( (Not so useful on my Thinkpad notebook) - Leftium
@wonsungi: What about Ctrl+Fn+[+]? - zildjohn01
This works in some other windows applications too! I use it in Process Explorer all the time. - jamuraa
Oh god I love you. - phuzion
@phuzion .. why ? - joe
That's amazing. What a gem! Ta. - Umber Ferrule
I gotta say, yeah, this is great... i thought i knew and used them all. - Good Time Tribe
Awesome shortcut! - Wesley Werner
[+16] [2009-08-03 07:36:29] Richard Szalay

Windows 7 Only

WIN + UP - maximise window

WIN + DOWN - un-maximise window

WIN + LEFT - dock window to left

WIN + RIGHT - dock window to right

WIN + SHIFT + LEFT - move window one monitor to the left

WIN + SHIFT + RIGHT - move window one monitor to the right

+1, didn't know about win + shift + left/right... very handy - William Hilsum
[+14] [2009-07-31 16:53:23] Peter Mortensen


Copies an image of the front-most window (instead of the entire desktop as PRINTSCREEN alone would do).

(1) Weirdly I only knew about alt-prtscr for ages before realising what prtscr on it's own did. - Rich Bradshaw
@Rich Bradshaw: I have the opposite experience with users of my application (MSQuant) when they report bugs. Typically they will dump the entire desktop to me (and often in BMP format...) - Peter Mortensen
[+10] [2009-07-31 14:44:30] fretje

Win + R : Run dialog
Win + F : Search
Win + E : Windows Explorer
Win + D : Toggle Show desktop
Win + M : Minimize all windows
Win + Shift + M : Undo Minimize all windows
Win + U : Utility Manager
Win + L : Lock workstation

Win+D is actually toggle desktop, Show/Hide if you press it more then once - Andrija
Not sure I could survive without Win + E. Didn't know about Win + U. - Alistair Knock
I pressed Win+U to see what it did. The computer started reading my windows to me. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. - Grant
Never understood the difference between Win + D and Win + M / Win + Shift + M. - guillermooo
@guillermooo: Win + D was introduced with internet explorer 4 and the "show desktop" icon in the quick launch bar (to which Win + D is the actual shortcut). Before that there was only Win + M / Win + Shift + M. - fretje
+1 for Win + L; I think I'm the only person in my company who uses this when leaving their desk. - Scott
[+7] [2009-07-31 19:11:17] opello

* (asterisk) in tree views (Windows Explorer, registry, etc.) to fully expand all leaves.

F6 to navigate panes of Explorer windows.

Alt + D to get to the Windows Explorer / Internet Explorer / Firefox address bar.

I always end up bookmarking the page I'm on because I hit CTRL+D instead by accident. Then while my hand is on the mouse anyway (to remove the errant bookmark), I just click the address bar. It's not the most efficient system, but it works. - Grant
TAB is similar to F6, but requires 4 keystrokes instead of 3 to cycle through all. - Peter Mortensen
[+7] [2009-07-31 20:13:29] Ciaran

If you've ever worked on a corporate helpdesk and needed to get a computer name to remote on...

Win + Pause/Break

Instant computer name! Saves you trying to tell people how to right-click and where the My Computer icon is!

(2) This was in the original question text. - Richard Szalay
I realize that but the purpose wasn't stated :) - Ciaran
But then you get people asking where the Pause/Break key is. It's not one of the more frequently used keys, so people don't know where it is. - Kevin M
[+6] [2009-07-31 18:00:26] Kirill

Ctrl + C will copy content of any pop-up standard dialog (with error or warning message). It could be pasted in notepad or Email with Ctrl + V to send text to techsupport.

+1. Wow, awesome. I just tried it and it works! I will instruct the users of my application,, to use this instead of sending heavy pixel dumps in error-reporting Emails... - Peter Mortensen
It even works in ASSERT dialog. - Peter Mortensen
@Peter, could -> will in most cases. - Kirill
[+5] [2009-07-31 14:46:35] Andrija

Win + B - Focus in system tray

(1) [WIN] + T in Wndows 7 - Richard Szalay
Does [WIN] + B still works in Win7 ? - Andrija
It does, but it focuses on the notification tray. - Richard Szalay
[+5] [2009-07-31 17:11:02] Petey B

CTRL + SHIFT + ESCAPE to bring up task manager.

This is in the original 'question' text. - Richard Szalay
[+5] [2009-07-31 14:33:50] joe

ALT+F4: Quit program

(1) I have been told that this also gives you extra life in many games... - William Hilsum
[+5] [2009-07-31 14:56:56] privatehuff

Alt + space : opens the "upper left menu" for window control

ALt+space, R : restore
ALt+space, M : move
ALt+space, S : resize
ALt+space, N : minimize
ALt+space, X : maximize

.. and others depending on program etc. Great to avoid using the mouse, and to quickly minimize when someone walks by your desk ^_^

Bonus, most work Ubuntu as well!

I've used this a lot, I doubt many people know about it. - BenMaddox
To move a window back on-screen, do Alt+Space, M and then use cursor keys to manoeuvre back to civilisation. - Umber Ferrule
[+5] [2009-08-06 17:03:10] Joe Philllips


The universe will bow down to you.

Don't forget [Start]. - grawity
I believe the closest thing to a start button on my PC is the on button. I suppose I may as well shut down after performing this, it'd be in the spirit to "get a life" afterwards :P - Phoshi
[+4] [2009-08-06 18:26:13] heavyd

Probably not a Windows shortcut, but very useful in many Windows applications including Outlook, Word, Visual Studio and many others.

Ctrl + Backspace

Deletes the entire word behind the cursor.

this got a +1 just cuz it's one of my favorites. as a developer, it's crucial. - Good Time Tribe
[+4] [2009-08-03 09:14:29] McDowell

I find the mechanism for tiling two windows quite useful. As detailed by Raymond Chen [1]:

  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc: This opens Task Manager.
  • From the Applications tab, use Ctrl+Space to select the two windows you want.
  • Alt+W (open the Windows menu)
  • V (Tile Vertically)

Though I tend to use the somewhat less complicated mouse version [2].


This kicks ass! - Umber Ferrule
very helpful, thank you! :) - Good Time Tribe
[+3] [2009-08-04 13:38:11] Leftium

ALT + ESC cycles through open windows like ALT + TAB , but in a reverse order without the icons/window previews. This is handy when ALT + TAB fails to work for some reason.

(I think this was mentioned by Joel in the StackOverflow PodCast)

[+3] [2009-07-31 18:28:03] grawity

R Ctrl + Scroll Lock (twice), for manually BSOD'ing the system.

Described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article #244139: Windows feature lets you generate a memory dump file by using the keyboard [1].


o ... m ... g ... I must know if there is a valid reason why someone would want to do this? Also, you have to press "Scroll Lock" twice while holding "R-Ctrl" - Nippysaurus
It's apparently very useful for debugging drivers and such things -- set it to do a full memory dump, load driver, debug. may be related. - grawity
(2) Oh, and it can also be used as a "boss key". - grawity
[+3] [2009-07-31 14:31:09] joe

Windows Key - Pressing just the Windows Key will open the start menu.

alt text

(1) Wait, wait, there's a start MENU? - Richard Szalay
(4) less well known? - fretje
at least for @Richard Szalay - joe
I'd like to introduce you to my friend Sarcasm, it appears you haven't met ;) - Richard Szalay
[+2] [2009-07-31 18:26:10] grawity

Shift + F8, for selecting multiple items in a multi-select list box.

[+2] [2011-01-13 15:38:10] qntmfred

Ctrl + Alt + Tab

Brings up the Alt + Tab window, but doesn't disappear when you release the keys

the actual key combo is a little awkward imo, but I've mapped it to a mouse button and it's almost like having Expos­é for Windows :]

[+2] [2009-08-11 05:58:05] Moshe

Win+X on vista: opens the mobility center (for WiFi, projectors, etc.)

[+2] [2009-08-18 18:43:38] J. B. Crawford
  • Win+Break - opens the System control panel. insanely convenient.
  • Win - opens the start menu, and in Vista and 7 puts the cursor in the quick search box, so Win followed by the first few letters of a program name and then enter will launch that program.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc - this one seems oddly unknown. It opens the task manager. Isn't that what ctrl+alt+delete is for, you ask? well, in Pro versions of windows Ctrl+Alt+Del opens the dialog with a list of options (change password, lock machine, log off, task manager, etc...), while Ctrl+Shift+Esc still opens the Task Manager directly. Saves you a mouseclick or two.

[+2] [2009-08-04 13:50:04] martani_net

Ctrl + Alt + Del

The most useful you ever need.

[+2] [2009-07-31 20:40:25] facepalmd

Win+D -> Alt+F4 to logoff/shutdown/restart/etc...
If you're already on desktop then you needn't bother with the Win+D. Just an Alt+F4 is all you need.

[+1] [2009-08-11 03:44:54] Peter Mortensen

In Windows Explorer: Ctrl + D will delete the selected files (equivalent to the Del key).

Shift-Del is burned into my brain to delete any files... :D - RCIX
you should probably add that as a separate answer if you havent yet, because it's different than just the Del key. Shift-Del skips the recycle bin, - Good Time Tribe
[+1] [2011-02-17 18:24:06] Mokubai

For a few moments amusement and to get people to vacate chat rooms in our new world of tabbed browsers:

CTRL + W Will close the currently open tab in your browser.

[+1] [2009-07-31 18:08:04] Steve Melnikoff

In Vista, to shut down or sleep (whichever you have configured for the button on the Start menu):

Windows, Right arrow, Enter

(This is a sequence, rather than a shortcut, but it's still quicker than using the mouse!)

(1) Eh, in XP you could just quickly press Windows, U, H. - grawity
[+1] [2009-07-31 17:13:07] Petey B

Probably well known, but I didn't know it for the longest time, SHIFT + TAB brings you back to the previous object.

[+1] [2009-07-31 15:12:43] JohnFx

ALT + TAB Cycle through active programs

Some times when Alt + TAB doesn't work, try ALT + ESC (I think this was mentioned by Joel in the StackOverflow PodCast) - Leftium
I've never ever seen Alt+TAB not work. Is that an issue with a specific version of Windows (although I think I've used all of them except the latest) - JohnFx
[+1] [2009-07-31 14:50:17] Richard Szalay

ALT + SPACE, N - Minimise Window (though it's technically a sequence of shortcuts).

Use this one quite a lot! - Umber Ferrule
[+1] [2009-07-31 14:51:17] Andrija

Win + 1 | 2 | 3 ...

Start programs from Quick Launch bar in order. Example: Win + 1 will start first item in Quick Launch bar.

Those work against the icons in the Windows 7 taskbar too, except that it will open an application window if it's already running. - Richard Szalay
I think this only works in win7 - fretje
@fretje it works in Vista, and I'm pretty sure it works in XP too shough I only found out about this when I moved to Vista :) - Andrija
(3) Doesn't work on my XP - Gnoupi
Yes Vista as well, but I see Vista as the new ME so I'd rather not talk about it ;-) I can assure you it doesn't work on xp though. - fretje
[0] [2009-07-31 14:45:05] in.spite

CTRL+ESC U U Return: Shutdown in XP

ALT+ENTER: Open the properties for the selected object

[0] [2009-10-16 07:12:49] Wesley Werner
  • F2: Edit list view items (like renaming files in explorer)
  • Ctrl + Win + F: Find network computers
  • Ctrl + Left/Right arrows: skip cursor to prev/next word when editing text, add SHIFT to make selections word-by-word

[0] [2010-01-02 15:54:34] nirgle

Surprised this one hasn't been posted yet: Ctrl + Keypad + to automatically size columns to fit all contents.

Click in the columns of most multiple-column list controls (Windows Explorer in Details view, Services window, etc.) and press this combo to make all data easier to see.