The 10 Most Useful Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts

If you're using your mouse for everything in Windows except actually typing characters, you're wasting a lot of time. Here are the ten most useful keyboard shortcuts for Windows 7.

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These keyboard shortcuts all work in Windows 7. We've ignored common in-app options (like Control-Z for undo) to focus on options that work Windows wide. Most of these will also work in older versions (such as Windows XP), but there are exceptions (such as the Aero Snap options for relocating windows). (We have a parallel list for Windows 8, though its keyboard options are arguably less extensive.)

10. PrtSc: Screen capture

There are plenty of dedicated screen capture tools with more nuanced options, but if you just need a basic screen grab, hitting PrtSc will copy the entire screen to your clipboard, ready for pasting into any image editor. Using Alt-PrtSc captures just the current window.

9. Windows-Arrow Keys: Aero Snap

Type Windows-Left Arrow and the active application will shift to fill the left half of the screen. Windows-Right sends it to the right, Windows-Down places it in the middle of the screen, and Windows-Up maximises. It's a really handy option when you want multiple application windows neatly arranged (such as copying information from a web page into a spreadsheet or document).

8. Windows-Break: System Information

Want to quickly check which version of Windows you're running or how much RAM you have? Windows-Break goes straight to system information.

7. Control-Alt-Del: Lockscreen

From Control-Alt-Del, you can launch the Task Manager, lock your machine or log off. Many users save Control-Alt-Del for when their system freezes, but it can be useful at other times.

6. Alt: Access menus

In traditional Windows apps, the underlined letter on a menu will open that menu in conjunction with the Alt key (so Alt-F will open the File menu). On the menu itself, individual items will also be underlined and you can access them simply by hitting the letter. So in Notepad Alt-O then W will access the Format menu, then Word Wrap. It doesn't make sense to memorise these individual combinations, but because they're visible on screen, they're easy to use when you need them.

5. Esc: Cancel

Got a dialog box open and realise you don't need it? Esc (the escape key) will dismiss it instantly with no drama.

4. Windows-D: Desktop

If you regularly use the desktop to store files or app shortcuts, Windows-D gets you there without needing to minimise or grab your mouse.

3. Control-Shift-Esc: Task Manager

One of the options on the Windows lockscree (Control-Alt-Del) is to launch the Task Manager for checking and closing apps. But you can save even more time with Control-Shift-Esc, which goes directly to the Task Manager.

2. Alt-Tab: Switch between apps

Rather than mousing to the taskbar, use Alt-Tab to cycle through all your open apps. (Windows-Tab does the same thing with fancier animations, but I find the basic version easier to use. Take your pick.)

1. Windows key (on its own)

Hit Windows to bring up the Start menu, then start typing for instant searching. A fast and easy way to find almost anything on your computer.

Any other favourite Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts worth sharing? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


    Win+[numbers] to give an app focus (or open app if not already open but is pinned) in the task bar
    Win+Shift+[numbers] to open another app even if one is oppened

    windows key+pause, show system properties and it saves a lot of clicks(works in win7 and xp), windows key+r, run any program such word excel explorer etc...,
    this ones works for ie: conrol+t new tab, control+tab , navigate trough internet explorer tabs, , control+f4 close tabs in ie,

    Alt + left (or right) to move forward and backwards in a web browser.

    Windows + left (or right) to move application sizing to side, but with 2 monitors you can easily setup 4 windows perfectly spaced

    Window can be driven almost entirely via the keyboard!

    To select items in an open window e.g. file menu
    Alt + f (I.e. letter usually indicated with an underscore) once this is selected arrow keys or letter for the next part.

    A dialogue box with multiple options the is always a dark black boarder on the default option (which you can press enter to select) and a dotted box you can move around with TAB and SHIFT TAB using space-bar to select.

    The keyboard options fall over on badly written user interfaces. I.e. when you tab through the options on the screen they jump point of sequence or on the same screen there is an underscore for the same letter for two different options or no underscores at all.

      Good to know when the mouse stops working.

      When the keyboard don't work but mouse does, the on screen keyboard becomes a life saver

    it is quite surprising that people are still learning about Windows 7 when the world is moving on -- we are already in Windows 8 territory now, folks (unless you work in a large corporate environment where the IT department enforces the luddite approach to new software rollouts) -- the only articles about Windows 7 worth writing now are about how and why people should upgrade to 8, and what changes / improvements it brings.

    most of these commands have worked since Windows 3.x and many still work in Windows 8. however there are a few new tweaks now, such as the WIN-key which now switches to the Metro/Start screen -> Desktop and back again. a few more:

    WINKEY - Toggles between the Windows desktop environment and the new Start screen.
    WINKEY + 1, WINKEY + 2, etc. - Launch the nth shortcut in the Windows taskbar. So WINKEY + 1 would launch whichever application is first in the list, from left to right.
    WINKEY + B - Select the tray notification area.
    WINKEY + C - Display Charms and time/date/notification overlay.
    WINKEY + D - Toggle Show Desktop (as with WIN+Mminimizes all applications and other windows).
    WINKEY + E. Launch Windows Explorer.
    WINKEY + F - Search Files using the new Windows Search pane.
    WINKEY + I - Display Settings pane , including Networks, Volume, Screen Brightness, Notifications, Power, Language Settings.
    WINKEY + , - Peeks at the Windows desktop.
    WINKEY + L - Lock PC and return to Lock screen.
    WINKEY + M - Minimize all windows.
    WINKEY + O - Toggle orientation switching on tablets / mobiles.
    WINKEY + P - Display the new Project (for "projection") pane for choosing between available displays.
    WINKEY + Q - Search (within) Apps.
    WINKEY + R - Display Run box (to start a program that's not in the Start Menu list, eg CMD).
    WINKEY + U - Launch Ease of Access Center.
    WINKEY + W - Search Settings.
    WINKEY + X - Display Windows Mobility Center / Advanced Context Menu
    WINKEY + ARROW KEYS - Aero Snap.

    also, I wish the Prt Scrn key could bring up the Vista/7/8 Snipping Tool, instead of the old snapshot -- Snipper isn't as well rounded as some other tools (eg Snagit), but it's free and installed with all versions of Windows.

    in windows 7, if you click and drag the title bar of the active window and "shake" it left and right, it minimises all windows apart from the active one.

    When running a program from the start menu search box in Windows 7, holding CTRL + SHIFT and pressing Enter will run the program as an Administrator.

    Some great posts so far from fellow power users, here's the few that haven't already been suggested:

    CTRL+SHIFT+V: Paste unformatted. Word and Evernote are two apps that I'm aware use this, I think a few other rich content editors support this.

    CTRL++ and CTRL+-: Zoom in and zoom out. In browsers, CTRL-0 will return your zoom to the default.

    CTRL-T: commonly sets text as 'strike-through' in many editors, find it very useful

      Remembered one more.

      CTRL-W: Close window/foreground in many apps

      CTRL-K: execute search from address bar in many browsers.

      CTRL-L: focus address bar in many browsers

    7. Control-Alt-Del: Lockscreen

    or just WinKey + L

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