The New Windows 11 Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Actually Use

The New Windows 11 Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Actually Use
Photo: sdx15, Shutterstock

Windows 11 doesn’t just come with a new coat of paint. There are many new features and redesigned elements here, from the widget panel, to the quick settings, to dedicated virtual desktops. And they all come with their very own, brand new keyboard shortcuts.

If you want to truly embrace (and make the most of) Windows 11, first do two things: Figure out and commit to memory the keyboard shortcuts that will speed up your day-to-day tasks, and then remap the others to do better things, or to do the same things in a better way.

Let’s get started by looking at the new Windows 11 keyboard shortcuts. Then, we’ll guide you on how to easily change those keyboard shortcuts using Microsoft’s own PowerToys tool.

13 Windows 11 keyboard shortcuts actually worth using

Just getting up and running with Windows 11? It’s worth committing these keyboard shortcuts to memory:

  • Windows + A: Opens the Quick Settings panel where you can control wifi, Bluetooth, Aeroplane mode, brightness, media, and more.
  • Windows + C: Opens the Chat feature in Microsoft Teams, if that’s your thing.
  • Windows + N: Opens the notifications and calendar panel.
  • Windows + W: Slides in the new widgets panel.
  • Windows + Z: Open the new Snap Layouts feature that helps you quickly snap multiple windows in a grid format.
  • Windows + Alt + Up/Down Arrow: A new shortcut that quickly snaps the selected window to the upper or lower half of the screen.
  • Windows + D: Show or hide the desktop. (Showing the desktop will instantly hide all running windows, and you’ll only see the desktop wallpaper and your icons.)
  • Windows + Tab: Opens the new virtual desktops interface that shows all open windows in the current desktop. You can switch to a different desktop from the bottom.
  • Windows + Ctrl + D: Add a new virtual desktop.
  • Windows + Ctrl + Left/Right Arrow: Switch between virtual desktops.
  • Windows + Ctrl + F4: close the current virtual desktop.
  • Windows + H: Start the new voice typing feature.
  • Windows + K: Directly jump to the Cast feature in Quick Settings

How to remap Windows 11 keyboard shortcuts

Now that you have learned the new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 11, you can tinker around with some of them. For example, you can remap the Windows + W keyboard shortcut to do something else, because when are you going to need to open the widgets panel that quickly?

Similarly, you can make other keyboard shortcuts easier to use. I find the Windows + Tab virtual desktops keyboard shortcut slightly tricky to key in, so I mapped it simply to the Left Alt button — something I rarely use otherwise.

All of this is possible to do using Microsoft’s PowerToys tool. It’s available in Preview for Windows 10 and 11, though stable enough for day-to-day use. You can download the latest version from Releases section of the PowerToys GitHub page.

Once you’ve installed it, go to the “Keyboard Manager” section of the sidebar and click “Remap a Key.

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

In the Physical Key section, enter the key(s) you want to use. (In my example, that’s “Alt (Left).”) In the Mapped To section, enter the keyboard shortcut that you want it to become. For me, that’s “Windows + Tab.” You can create multiple keyboard shortcuts at once. Once you’re done, click the “OK” button to save your settings.

  

Log in to comment on this story!