Microsoft Windows shortcut keys

Updated: 11/30/2020 by Computer Hope
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Below is a listing of all the more commonly used Windows shortcut keys for every version of Microsoft Windows. If you are looking for shortcut keys related to programs in Windows, like Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet browsers, and others, see our "Other computer keyboard shortcuts" page linked below.

General Windows keyboard shortcuts

Alt+Tab

Switch between open applications in all versions of Windows. Reverse the direction by pressing Alt+Shift+Tab at the same time.

Ctrl+Tab

Switches between program groups, tabs, or document windows in applications that support this feature. Reverse the direction by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Tab at the same time.

Alt+double-click

In Windows 95 or later, display the properties of the object you double-click. For example, doing this on a file would display its properties.

Alt+Print Screen

Create a screenshot only for the active program window in all versions of Windows. For example, if you opened the calculator and pressed these shortcut keys, only the calculator window would be created as a screenshot. If the Print Screen key is pressed alone, the whole screen will be made into a screenshot.

Ctrl+Alt+Del

Open the Windows option screen for locking computer, switching user, Task Manager, etc. in later versions of Windows. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del multiple times reboots the computer.

Ctrl+Shift+Esc

Immediately bring up the Windows Task Manager in Windows 2000 and later.

Ctrl+Esc

Open the Windows Start menu in most versions of Windows. In Windows 8, this opens the Start screen and in Windows 3.x, this opens the Task Manager.

Alt+Esc

Switch between open applications on Taskbar in Windows 95 and later.

Alt+Spacebar

Drops down the window control menu for the currently open Windows program in Windows 95 and later.

Alt+Enter

Opens properties window of selected icon or program in Windows 95 and later.

Shift+Del

Permanently delete any file or another object without throwing it into the Recycle Bin in Windows 95 and later.

Hold down the Shift key

When putting in an audio or data CD that uses Autoplay, holding down the Shift prevents that CD from playing.

Windows function key shortcuts

Below is a listing of keyboard shortcuts that use the keyboard function keys. See our what are F1 through F12 keys page for a full listing of what function keys do with all other programs.

F1

Activates help for current open application. If you're at the Windows desktop, this activates the help for Windows.

F2

Renames a highlighted icon, file, or folder in all versions of Windows.

F3

Starts find or search when at the Windows desktop in all versions of Windows.

F4

In Windows 95 and later, F4 opens the drive selection or address bar when browsing files in Windows Explorer.

  • Pressing Alt+F4 closes the current open program window without a prompt in all versions of Windows.
  • Pressing Ctrl+F4 closes the open window in the current active window in Microsoft Windows. Only works in programs that support multiple windows or tabs in the same program window.

F6

While in Windows Explorer, F6 moves the cursor to different Windows Explorer pane or in Windows 7 browse available drives.

F8

Pressing F8 over and over as the computer is booting starts the computer in Safe Mode.

F10

Activates the file menu bar in all versions of Windows.

  • Simulates a right-click of a selected item, which is useful if right-click is difficult or impossible using the mouse.

Windows keyboard key shortcuts

Below is a listing of Windows keys that can be used on computers running Microsoft Windows 95 or later and using a keyboard with a Windows key. In the below list of shortcuts, the Windows key is represented by "Windows key." Because not all these shortcuts work in every version of Windows, we've mentioned which versions of Windows support each shortcut key combination.

All versions of Windows

Windows key

Pressing the Windows key alone opens or hides the Windows Start menu. In Windows 8, this opens or hides the Start screen.

Windows key+F1

Open the Microsoft Windows help and support center.

Windows key+Pause or Break

Open the System Properties window.

Windows key+D

Display and hide the Windows desktop.

Windows key+E

Open Microsoft Windows Explorer.

Windows key+F

Display the Windows Search or Find feature.

Windows key+Ctrl+F

Display the search for computers window.

Windows key+L

Lock the computer and switch users if needed (Windows XP and above only).

Windows key+M

Minimizes all windows.

Windows key+Shift+M

Undo the minimize done by Windows key+M and Windows key+D.

Windows key+R

Open the run window.

Windows key+U

Open Utility Manager or the Ease of Access Center.

Windows XP

Windows key+Tab

Cycle through open programs on the Taskbar.

Windows 7 and 8

Windows key+1-0

Pressing the Windows key and any top row number key from 1 to 0 opens the program corresponding to the number of the program icon on the Taskbar. For example, if the first icon on the Taskbar is Internet Explorer, pressing Windows key+1 would open that program or switch to it if already open.

Windows key+(Plus (+) or Minus (-))

Open Windows Magnifier and zoom in with the plus symbol (+) and zoom out with the minus symbol (-).

  • Press the Windows key+ESC to close the Magnifier.

Windows key+Home

Minimize all windows except the active window.

Windows key+P

Change between the monitor and projection display types or how second screen displays computer screen.

Windows key+T

Set the focus on the Taskbar icons.

Windows key+Left arrow

Shrinks the window to 1/2 screen on the left side for side by side viewing.

Windows key+Right arrow

Shrinks the window to 1/2 screen on the right side for side by side viewing.

Windows key+Up arrow

When in the side by side viewing mode, this shortcut takes the screen back to full size.

Windows key+Down arrow

Minimizes the screen. Also, when in the side by side viewing mode, this shortcut takes the screen back to a minimized size.

Windows 8

Windows key+,

Peek at the Windows desktop.

Windows key+.

Snap a Windows App to the sides of the screen. Pressing it multiple times switches between the right and left side of the screen or unsnap the app.

Windows key+Enter

Open Windows Narrator.

Windows key+C

Open the Charms.

Windows key+G

Cycle through desktop gadgets.

Windows key+H

Open Share in Charms.

Windows key+I

Open the Settings in Charms.

Windows key+J

Switch between snapped apps.

Windows key+K

Open Devices in Charms.

Windows key+O

Lock the screen orientation.

Windows key+X

Open the Power User Menu, which gives you access to many of the features most power users would want to use such as Device Manager, Control Panel, Event Viewer, Command Prompt, and much more.

Windows 10

Windows key+,

Peek at the Windows desktop.

Windows key+A

Open the Windows 10 Action Center.

Windows key+G

Open the Game bar. Only works if a game is running.

Windows key+I

Open the Windows 10 Settings window.

Windows key+S

Open the Windows Search utility.

Windows key+X

Open the Power User Menu, which gives you access to many of the features most power users would want to use such as Device Manager, Control Panel, Event Viewer, Command Prompt, and much more.