Reaching for the mouse when you’re in the middle of typing something isn’t always the most efficient way of working – just lifting your fingers off the keys just to save a file or switch to a web browser can easily interrupt your train of thought.
From keyboard shortcuts for copy and keyboard shortcuts for paste and more, fortunately Windows and its applications can also be controlled by the keyboard alone.
Tip 1: Common shortcuts for all applications
Most people know that pressing the Windows key opens the Start menu, but Windows has other keyboard shortcuts that work across all applications. Most are accessed by pressing the Control (usually labelled ‘Ctrl’) key together with another key. The most commonly used are Control + C, X and V for Copy, Cut and Paste, respectively.
You don’t need to use the mouse to select some text before you can copy or cut text in a word processor, either. Instead, just move the cursor to the start of the text you want to select, hold down the Shift key and move the cursor letter-by-letter using the arrow keys.
Holding down Control + Shift when pressing the left and right arrow keys also selects whole words, rather than single characters.
Pressing Control + A selects everything in the document.
One of the most useful keyboard shortcuts when working with multiple open applications is Alt + Tab - this previews for all currently running applications, each key press switches between them.
Tip 2: Keyboard shortcuts for files
There are also keyboard shortcuts for working with documents in applications. Control + O opens the Open file dialog box, while Control + S saves the current document, or opens the Save file dialog box if it hasn’t been saved before.
If you want to create a new document within an application, press Control + N, or Control + W to close the current document window. Alternatively Alt + F4 (on the top row of keyboard function keys) exits the application altogether.
Finally, if you want to print a document, press Control + P.
Tip 3: Getting around dialog boxes
When a dialog box is open, the Tab key (and Shift + Tab) moves the selection highlight around: from button to button, and to any other areas.
Pressing the Up or Down arrow keys on a drop-down list opens the list and highlights its items. The Return key selects a highlighted item, while Escape closes the list without making a selection. Pressing Return when any of the buttons is selected has the same effect as clicking that button, while pressing Escape is the same as clicking Cancel.
Tip 4: Keyboard shortcuts for applications
You may have noticed that some applications with a menu bar have an underlined letter in each menu name, and in each menu option.
Pressing the Alt key and the underlined letter in a menu name will open that menu, then pressing Alt and the underlined menu option letter will select that option.
More recent Microsoft applications have dropped this approach. Press the Alt key, however, and the underlined letters (or pop-up letters with a Ribbon bar) still appear — just press the appropriate letter to open the menu and select an option.
Tip 5: Web browser shortcuts
All of the above keyboard shortcuts also work in web browsers, but browsers also have a few shortcuts of their own. Control + L selects the text in the web address bar so you can overtype it with a new address - press Return to open the address.
You can use the up and down arrow keys to scroll up and down an open page, or Spacebar scrolls down and Shift + Spacebar scrolls up a screen.
You can also press Tab to move through links on a page and Return to open one that’s currently selected. When you’re browsing, press Alt + Left arrow or Right arrow to move back or forward a page.
Control + F opens a search box.
Tip 6: Finding more shortcuts
There are many more keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10 and its applications than we can list here – take a look at this full list of Windows keyboard shortcuts. You can also search online for keyboard shortcuts for other applications, or press the F1 key in any application to open its help tool and search for keyboard shortcuts.