Is this you: Eat lunch at your desk because you don’t have time to go out? Can’t stop for five minutes to chat at the coffee machine? Wear your wireless headset into the restroom because conference calls and biological necessities conflict? Tired of always leaving work just five minutes too late to beat the afternoon traffic jam?
Take heart, for in this post I’m going to share with you 111 tips to help you put nine hours of productivity into an eight-hour day, or maybe just steal back a little bit of “me time” for yourself. I’ve culled the best of the Internet, along with some secret files that were delivered to me by an anonymous secret agent with a Redmond accent to bring you the best of the best for saving every little slice of time, and making your daily grind as efficient as possible.
Microsoft Support offers a ton of keyboard and mouse short-cuts designed to save you time and let you work more efficiently. You probably know some of these, but I bet there’s a trick or two in here even hard core Windows gurus don’t know. Here are some of my favorites from that Knowledge Base article:
Windows system key combinations
- F1: Help for the currently selected item
- CTRL+ESC: Open Start menu
- ALT+TAB: Switch between open programs
- ALT+F4: Quit program
- SHIFT+DELETE: Delete item permanently
- Windows Logo+L: Lock the computer (without using CTRL+ALT+DELETE)
- Win+F1 : Load the Help system (it will have a generic start page so you can search help on anything + it provides a quick start guide for windows).
Mouse click/keyboard modifier combinations for shell objects
- SHIFT+right click: Displays a shortcut menu containing alternative commands
- SHIFT+double click: Runs the alternate default command (the second item on the menu)
- ALT+double click: Displays properties.
General keyboard-only commands
- F10: Activates menu bar options
- SHIFT+F10: Opens a shortcut menu for the selected item (this is the same as right-clicking an object)
- CTRL+ESC: Opens the Start menu (use the ARROW keys to select an item)
- Win+F : Loads the Search for files and folders
- CTRL+SHIFT+ESC: Opens Windows Task Manager
- ALT+DOWN ARROW: Opens a drop-down list box
- SHIFT: Press and hold down the SHIFT key while you insert a CD-ROM to bypass the automatic-run feature
- ALT+SPACE: Displays the main window’s System menu
- ALT+- (ALT+hyphen): Displays the Multiple Document Interface (MDI) child window’s System menu
- CTRL+TAB: Switch to the next child window of a Multiple Document Interface (MDI) program
- ALT+underlined letter in menu: Opens the menu
- ALT+F4: Closes the current window
- CTRL+F4: Closes the current Multiple Document Interface (MDI) window
- ALT+F6: Switch between multiple windows in the same program.
Shell objects and general folder/Windows Explorer shortcuts
- F2: Rename object
- F3: Find all files
- SHIFT+DELETE: Delete selection immediately, without moving the item to the Recycle Bin
- ALT+ENTER: Open the properties for the selected object
- To copy a file, press and hold down the CTRL key while you drag the file to another folder
- To create a shortcut, press and hold down CTRL+SHIFT while you drag a file to the desktop or a folder.
General folder/shortcut control
- F4: Selects the Go To A Different Folder box and moves down the entries in the box (if the toolbar is active in Windows Explorer)
- F5: Refreshes the current window
- F6: Moves among panes in Windows Explorer
- BACKSPACE: Switchs to the parent folder
- SHIFT+click+Close button: For folders, close the current folder plus all parent folders
- Double-click the title bar of a window to maximize it.
Windows Explorer tree control
- Numeric Keypad *: Expands everything under the current selection
- Numeric Keypad +: Expands the current selection
- Numeric Keypad -: Collapses the current selection.
- RIGHT ARROW: Expands the current selection if it is not expanded, otherwise goes to the first child
- LEFT ARROW: Collapses the current selection if it is expanded, otherwise goes to the parent.
- CTRL+TAB/CTRL+SHIFT+TAB: Move through the property tabs.
- Press SHIFT five times: Toggles StickyKeys on and off
- Press down and hold the right SHIFT key for eight seconds: Toggles FilterKeys on and off
- Press down and hold the NUM LOCK key for five seconds: Toggles ToggleKeys on and off
- Left ALT+left SHIFT+NUM LOCK: Toggles MouseKeys on and off
- Left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN: Toggles high contrast on and off.
Dialog box keyboard commands
- TAB: Move to the next control in the dialog box
- SHIFT+TAB: Move to the previous control in the dialog box
- SPACEBAR: If the current control is a button, this clicks the button. If the current control is a check box, this toggles the check box. If the current control is an option, this selects the option.
- ENTER: Equivalent to clicking the selected button (the button with the outline)
- ESC: Equivalent to clicking the Cancel button
- ALT+underlined letter in dialog box item: Move to the corresponding item.
Windows 7 shortcuts
Here’s some Windows 7 specific shortcuts that you may also find in Windows 8:
- Win+R: Active the run dialog
- Win+Home: Clear all but the active window
- Win+Space: All windows become transparent so you can see through to the desktop
- Win+Up arrow: Maximize the active window
- Shift+Win+Up arrow: Maximize the active window vertically
- Win+Down arrow: Minimize the window/Restore the window if it’s maximized
- Win+Left/Right arrows: Dock the window to each side of the monitor
- Shift+Win+Left/Right arrows: Move the window to the monitor on the left or right.
You can also interact with windows by dragging them with the mouse:
- Drag window to the top: Maximize
- Drag window left/right: Dock the window to fill half of the screen
- Shake window back/forth: Minimize everything but the current window
- Double-Click Top Window Border (edge): Maximize window vertically.
- Win+number (1-9): Starts the application pinned to the taskbar in that position, or switches to that program
- Shift+Win+number (1-9): Starts a new instance of the application pinned to the taskbar in that position
- Ctrl+Win+number (1-9): Cycles through open windows for the application pinned to the taskbar in that position
- Alt+Win+number (1-9): Opens the Jump List for the application pinned to the taskbar
- Win+T: Focus and scroll through items on the taskbar
- Win+B: Focuses the System Tray icons
- Shift+Click on a taskbar button: Open a program or quickly open another instance of a program
- Ctrl+Shift+Click on a taskbar button: Open a program as an administrator
- Shift+Right-click on a taskbar button: Show the window menu for the program (like XP does)
- Shift+Right-click on a grouped taskbar button: Show the window menu for the group
- Ctrl+Click on a grouped taskbar button: Cycle through the windows of the group.
More helpful shortcuts
- Ctrl+Shift+N: Creates a new folder in Windows Explorer
- Alt+Up: Goes up a folder level in Windows Explorer
- Alt+P: Toggles the preview pane in Windows Explorer
- Shift+Right-Click on a file: Adds Copy as Path, which copies the path of a file to the clipboard
- Shift+Right-Click on a file: Adds extra hidden items to the Send To menu
- Shift+Right-Click on a folder: Adds Command Prompt Here, which lets you easily open a command prompt in that folder
- Win+P: Adjust presentation settings for your display
- Win+(+/-): Zoom in/out
- Win+G: Cycle between the Windows Gadgets on your screen
- Win+M: Minimize all open windows to the taskbar
- Win+Home: Minimize all open windows to the taskbar except the active one
- Win+E: Open Explorer
- Win+P: Connect to an external monitor or projector and toggle through extend or duplicate modes
- Win+Spacebar: Show your desktop by making all open windows transparent
- Win+Shift+Left Arrow: Move the active window to the left desktop (multiple monitors only)
- Win+Shift+Right Arrow: Move the active window to the right desktop (multiple monitors only)
- Win++ and Win+-: If you have a keyboard with a number pad, hold the Windows key down and then press the + key to activate the screen magnifier. + will zoom in, – will zoom out
- Win+Tab: Aero version of ALT+TAB that lets you quickly cycle through open windows.
These all get you to special locations within your file system quickly and easily. They are all used by Win+R and then typing shell: +
- Profile: Takes you straight to your profile directory
- Personal: Takes you straight to your Documents folder
- SendTo: Takes you to the folder where you store “send to” shortcuts. See #109 below for more on this
- Startup: Takes you to the Startup directory for your profile
- Common Startup: Takes you to the Startup directory for all profiles
- ConnectionsFolder: Takes you straight to your network connections like in the days of old
- Programs: Takes you to your profile’s start menu entries
- Common Programs: Takes you to all the profiles’ start menu entries
- AppData: Takes you to the normally hidden Roaming Application Data folder
- Local AppData: Takes you to the normally hidden Local Application Data folder
- Cookies: Takes you to your cookies folder
- Cache: Takes you to your Temporary Internet Files folder
- Desktop: Takes you to the folder that is represented by your Desktop
- Downloads: Takes you to your Downloads folder.
Make your own shortcuts
- Use #97 above to get to your Send To folder and then add your own shortcuts to the SendTo menu. You can use drive letters, UNC paths, or shortcuts to other apps.
- Add a folder to your Favorites by browsing to it in Explorer, and then right-clicking Favorites in the left hand pane. Then just click “Add current location to Favorites”.
- You can right-click any program and pin it to the task bar or start menu to make it easier to launch the next time you need it.
Now I shared 111 tips with you. Some you probably already knew, but I bet everyone who reads this learned at least one new trick. There are many more out there so how about sharing your favorite if it didn’t make the cut by leaving a comment below?