Keyboard shortcuts come in all varieties—they are available for different software programs, Internet browsers, and any other need you could imagine. Today, most programs have their own shortcuts that are based on some of the most standard keyboard shortcuts already in existence. In this guide, we’ll look at the top keyboard shortcuts for Windows-based computers.
Some of the shortcuts will be the same on a Mac, while in some cases, they will use the CMD key instead of Ctrl. In any case, there are dozens of different shortcuts that are going to make things faster, no matter what you’re doing on the computer. And some are staples that you just can’t live without. You might find that different shortcuts are more useful for you than others—make a cheat sheet of them, memorize them, and use them as much as you can.
Here are the top 10 you should know about.
This is your universal “uh-oh” button. Click too far? Ctrl + Z will take you back. Delete the wrong text? Hit this shortcut and put everything back in its rightful place. This is the shortcut to undo just about anything that you’ve done on the computer. It only works on the most recent action taken or the last thing that you typed, so if you’re already five steps ahead, it may be too late. Some programs will allow you to undo more than once, such as in Word where you can “undo” an entire paragraph word by word if you so desire. Usually, though, it’s used as a single shortcut.
Here’s another big universal shortcut that will come in handy in a lot of different ways. This will allow you to copy whatever is selected, whether that’s a link, a paragraph, or even an entire document. Then, you can use the next shortcut to put it where it needs to go.
Ctrl + V will paste whatever you have copied or cut. You will want to make sure that you have the cursor in the right place when hitting the paste shortcut or you could dump a lot of content in the wrong place.
This shortcut allows you to zoom in and out of pages without having to track down the “zoom” feature. Just press Ctrl and use the mouse wheel to scroll up (zoom in) or down (zoom out).
With Ctrl + A, you will be able to select all text or content within the window of which you are working. For example, in a Word document, you’d be able to select all the text of the entire document. On a website, you’d select all the content on the page, including text and images.
This one isn’t useful to everyone, but it’s at the top of all the shortcut lists for documents and word processors. This combination will create a strikethrough or a line through your text. It’s great for lists or if you’re copying information and need to cross out what’s done, or for any other nixing needs.
Alt + Tab is a long-lived shortcut that is as old as Windows itself. When you’re running multiple programs or applications, this shortcut helps you switch between windows. Keep pressing it to flip through each window that you have open and navigate between them freely.
Use this shortcut to quit whatever application you’re using or close the window. For example, pressing it while in Google Chrome will cause the Chrome browser to close. There are a couple of different shortcuts for this feature, but either will do the trick.
Windows Task Manager is where you go when there’s trouble with something that you’re working on. And, with this shortcut, you don’t even have to go digging into the Windows menu to find the Task Manager among the applications. Just press Ctrl + Shift + Esc and the Task Manager will pop up, ready to use.
This is another “close” shortcut that works on several programs and tools. Ctrl + W will close whatever window you’re on, whether it’s a Word document or an Internet browser window. You can close almost anything on a Windows computer with this command.
With the ease of use of most computers today, people might wonder why shortcuts are even worthwhile. The fact of the matter, though, is that when you master the best keyboard shortcuts, you can shave minutes off each task. Those minutes can add up to hours each week, and it saves you a lot of navigational nightmares through the various menus.
If you’re working on a Mac, as mentioned, the keys used for shortcuts might be a bit different. However, you can look those up just as easily on Apple’s website. It’s all about making your operating system work efficiently for you and that means less back-and-forth between the mouse and the keyboard, fewer distractions along the way, and a more streamlined process for any and all tasks that you undertake.
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