10 Windows Keyboard Shortcuts To Help Maximise Efficiency
A keyboard shortcut is a combination of keystrokes used to invoke a designated command in Windows software. And in a world where productivity is so precious, there’s nothing quite like swapping the traditional mouse or touchpad for a quick swipe of the finger to save precious minutes – if not hours – of your workload each week.
As well as the affordance of time, shortcuts are also unparalleled when it comes to accuracy. Precise actions such as text highlighting and spreadsheet cell selection, for example, can steal a march on even the savviest of mice.
While you may already be up to speed with basic swaps such as Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste, or a trusty Ctrl + Z to undo an error, there are a whole host of other approaches to help streamline your tech use and maximise efficiency.
1. Ctrl + F: Search for text
When faced with page after page of text, finding a specific key word or phrase can prove to be a challenge. Hitting Ctrl + F in major web browsers, word processors, spreadsheet apps and developer tools lets you search for a specific text string – highlighting every available example in the copy.
2. Shift + Arrow: Highlight text
Overly-sensitive, jumpy click pads can often make text selection a difficult feat. If you want to highlight whole words or individual characters without using your mouse, you can simply hold down Shift as you move your cursor using the Arrow keys.
3. Windows + Semi-colon: Show Emoji keyboard
Tired of copy and pasting emojis from your web browser? Use Windows + Semi-colon to bring up a designated keyboard and surf through an endless range of options. You can also find emoticons, GIFs, and symbols on this popup.
4. Shift + Space: Select row in Excel
If you’re editing a spreadsheet in a productivity suite such as Excel, you can select an individual cell or entire row by combining Shift + Space. Once selected, you can delete it by hitting Ctrl + Minus key, or add further rows by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Up or Down arrow.
5. Ctrl + Shift + T: Restore closed browser tab
Sometimes, your tab collection becomes so overwhelming that you can’t help but go on a clean-up spree to tidy up your search, only to realise you needed one of them. Luckily, there’s a simply shortcut to restore the latest tab you closed – press Ctrl + Shift + T.
6. Windows + M: Minimise all windows
When you need to access something on your desktop, or quickly hide your tabs, minimising them one by one can quickly become tiring – save the trouble by hitting Windows + M. Then, if you want to restore them, press Windows + Shift + M.
7. Windows + E: Launch File Explorer
File Explorer helps you get the files you need quickly and easily, but you can access them even faster by simply hitting Windows + E. Browse drives and documents, delete, move, or rename files, in an instant.
8. Alt +S / Ctrl + Enter: Send email
With features from grouped sender lists and automated filters, to ready-made templates and scheduling options, you’d be forgiven for thinking that email couldn’t get any simpler. But by hitting Alt + S in Outlook or other desktop mail clients, or Ctrl + Enter when using Gmail on your web browser, you can fire an email off in a matter of milliseconds.
9. F2: Rename a file
Whether you have a photo with a non-descript name, or made a typo in your first save, the quickest and easiest way to rename a file is to select it in Windows File Explorer and press the F2 key. Want to rename multiple at once? Simply select each file, hit F2, and press Enter – all will have the same new name, followed by a number in parentheses.
10. Ctrl + Shift + Esc: Open Task Manager
The Windows Task Manager displays everything running on your computer system – from open programs to the background processes, and even shows statistics about each. No matter which application you’re currently using, this shortcut will launch the tool for you to explore.
Compared to reaching for a mouse or touchpad, or navigating a menu, using keyboard shortcuts offers a significantly quicker way of doing things. While a single F2 or Ctrl + F might not seem like much, every second saved can add up to a substantial chunk of time to ease your schedule.
And there’s plenty more where these came from, too. With almost 200 options available – plus the ability to customise your own – the possibilities are almost endless.