Since the late 1980s, when the mouse became the main way people invoked actions from the applications they use, the art of the keyboard shortcut has slowly disappeared. I started using a PC in the time when a pointing device was an expensive option on laptops.
So, I became pretty adept at using keyboard shortcuts. But it turns out the creators of our software still include them even though we are more likely to use a touchpad, mouse or touchscreen these days. What are some of the lesser known keyboard shortcuts you can use with Windows?
#1 The Emoji Keyboard
Microsoft posted an article earlier this year telling us pressing the Windows key and fullstop displays a keyboard with some of your favourite emojis.
Shortcut: Windows key + period key
#2 Flip The Display
This one doesn’t work on every single PC in my experience but it works on enough to be fun. Using the Ctrl, Alt and arrow keys rotates and flips the display. It’s a great prank.
Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + arrow (left and right arrows rotate clockwise and anti-clockwise, up and down flip the screen upside-down and back)
#3 High Contrast Mode
If you want all your screen fonts to get bigger, turn the desktop black, and reverse the usual black text on white background then this is the keyboard toggle for you.
When you use it, you’ll see a warning. Using the same shortcut reverts back to normal display mode.
Shortcut: Shift + Alt + Print
#4 Lock down
Back in the old days, using Windows NT4 Workstation or later versions of Windows, the infamous three-finger salute, Ctrl-Alt-Del was used to bring up a dialog that allowed you to lock your computer. Now, you can do the same with a simple two-key combo that instantly locks your PC in case you need to sneak off for a coffee, bio break or just to hide from management.
Shortcut: Windows + l
#5 Screen recording
While the ability to do static screen captures has been part of Windows for ages (Alt-PrintScreen was very handy when I used to write training manuals) I didn’t know there was a way to capture the onscreen action as a video. This can be handy for creating quick “How To” videos for friends and family.
Shortcut: Windows + Alt + G starts recording and Windows + Alt + R stops it.
Do you have a favourite but obscure keyboard shortcut? Share it in the comments.
This story has been updated since its original publication.