Microsoft Windows keyboard shortcuts

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Microsoft Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Xah Lee, 2009-12-16, 2010-05-18, 2010-07-31, 2010-08-10

This page list some of the advanced keyboard shortcuts in Windows. The list on this page is chosen so it is practical, and it is organized by purpose. It is not a dumb list of keys.

The info on this page are tested in Windows Vista. They should also work in Windows XP and Windows 7.

Shortcuts Useful in All Apps

The following are shortcuts that are useful in most applications.

Closing App or Window or Tab

Hot KeyPurposeComment
Alt+F4quit appWorks in almost all apps
Alt+Space c quit appSame as “Alt+F4”
Ctrl+F4close current tab or window
Ctrl+wclose current tab or window
EscClose current dialogUsually does not Save changes or Apply changes.
Mouse ButtonGesture and PurposeComment
middle buttonClick on tab to Close tabWorks in Firefox, IE, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera

Full Screen and Hide/Show

Hot KeyPurposeComment
F11Full ScreenAdd Shift key to reverse direction.
Alt+Space nminimize current window
Win+dShow desktop (minimize all windows)
Win+mminimize all windowsWin+Shift+m” can bring all windows back if pressed right away

Switching App or Window or Tab

Hot KeyPurposeComment
Ctrl+Tabnext tabAdd Shift key to reverse direction.
Ctrl+PageDownnext tab“Ctrl+PageUp” for previous tab.
Hot KeyPurposeComment
Win+TabFlip 3D to next windowAdd Shift key to reverse direction.
Win+Alt+TabFlip 3D (don't go away mode)
Alt+Tabnext windowAdd Shift key to reverse direction.
Ctrl+Alt+Tabnext window (don't go away mode)

Open Folder, Start Application

Hot KeyPurposeComment
WinStart menuPress the Win key then start typing the app's name, will usually let you launch the app quickly.
Win+rrun program by name
Win+eopen a folder
Win+fsearch files

Win+1, Win+2, ...

“Win+1”, “Win+2” etc shortcuts are automatically created for launching apps. To have them, you need to have Quick Launch turned on in your Taskbar. To turn it on, right click on a empty area in your Taskbar, choose Properties, then Taskbar tab, check mark the Show Quick Launch. Then, you can drag-n-drop any desktop icon shortcut to the Quick Launch area and it'll show in your Taskbar. The number used for the shortcut is the same as the order of the apps shown. You can drag them to arrange them.

Set Your Own Hotkey to Launch App in Shortcut

You can create hotkeys to launch apps. Go to your desktop. Then click on a Shortcut, then press “Alt+Enter” to bring up its properties. Then, click the Shortcut tab, click the “Shortcut key” field, then just type a key combo to set a hotkey.

Folder List View, Icon View (Windows Explorer Keys)

When viewing a folder, you can view it as icons or list or detail. There's no direct keyboard shortcut, but you can do this:

  • Press “Alt v d” for detail view.
  • Press “Alt v m” for medium icon view.

“F2” is for renaming file in Explorer. And “Alt+Enter” is for getting properties of a file, folder, or getting info about something, in most apps.


Hot KeyPurposeComment
PrtScn/SysRqCopy screen image to clipboardTo copy just current window, add Alt key.
Win+llock screen
AltActivate menuAfter pressing Alt, use arrow keys to navigate, or press keys of the underlined letters.
Alt+SpaceStart current window's system menu

“F5” is for refresh in browsers and Explorer and most other apps that makes sense.

Less Useful

Here are some less useful ones.

Hot KeyPurposeComment
Win+tput focus on task bar
Win+bput focus on system notification area
Win+uopen ease of access folder


How to disable the Sleep key, Windows key, how to swap Caps Lock with Control, How to set a key to launch app... see: Windows Keyboard Shortcuts FAQ.


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