Our Favourite Windows 10 Keyboard Tricks

Image: Getty Images

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.


    Windows + Shift + S is great for snipping part of a screen to clipboard without using the snipping tool.

      Greenshot brother.. a must add to every windows install..

        Greenshot is a great app but doesn't work on Corporate environment where users don't have admin rights. Windows + Shift + S is a good alternative

    Win + Shift + S for capturing a region of the screen. Though now I'm using a 3rd-party tool for my screenshots, prior to that, this shortcut got a lot of use.

      I actually want to update this slightly just to say I ditched my 3rd-party tool (Greenshot) because Win+Shift+S got better. You can capture a rectangular region, freeform region or full-screen clip. Windows then puts it on the clipboard and adds a notification in the action centre you can use to annotate the image if you wish.

    Windows key, and left or right, to split your screen down the middle when you dont have 2 monitors.

    Unfortunately the screen flip trick doesn't work in newer versions of graphics drivers - it'll only work if the graphics driver supports it. It used to only work reliably on Intel-based graphics cards but recent versions of those drivers have removed the function. Nvidia seems to have disabled hotkeys almost completely and I'm unsure if it ever worked on AMD.

    And when I say recent, it's actually been a year or two since the updates. People don't tend to update their graphics drivers too often though unless they are gamers so chances are the trick can still work on unsuspecting people.

    You can still flip the screen through the display properties, but you can't do it with hotkeys anymore.

    The screen recording 'shortcut' isnt a very useful one. It requires the Xbox app to be running, and only captures the current window. You cant switch applications and keep capturing.

      I don't know that it needs anything running (that you have to start yourself anyway). It works for me. The article: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/07/windowsshifts-has-changed-my-life/ claims it s just a shortcut into the snipping tool. Having said all that I did get a pop up saying something about Xbox. I suspect you know more than I but it works on one of my W10 machines and not the other.

    What does the image at the top of this article have to do with keyboard shortcuts, exactly?

      Well, it's a MacAppletosh keyboard, so ... Windows shortcuts, right?

    How come the story was filed after all the comments were made?

      It was filed back then, and reposted. It seems to have happened to a lot of articles recently.

    One more I'd like to add since last time this article was published: Win+V.
    Windows now can enable a clipboard history and Win+V brings up a list of things recently added to your clipboard. A lifesaver if you accidentally copy over something you hadn't pasted yet, or useful to copy multiple things from one spot and paste them separately elsewhere.

    Only the #1 worked for me (HP probook running WIN 10). I was interested in #5, but it did not seem to work. If it works, where can I find the captured video?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now