Windows Shortcut Key Quick Reference

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This is a list of some of the shortcut key combinations recognized in Microsoft Windows. These are largely universal across different versions of Windows and across different Windows programs. Many of these keyboard shortcuts have been adopted by Linux window managers. Macintosh and Sun's Common Desktop Environment have some shortcuts in common, but not many.

The more of these keyboard shortcuts that you learn, the more efficient you will be at using your computer.

These shortcuts are organized with the most frequently used shortcuts at the top of each category list.

Universal Controls
note: not all keyboards have a Menu Icon key
 
Ctrl & V Paste
Ctrl & C Copy
Ctrl & X Cut
Ctrl & Z Undo
Ctrl & A Highlight all
Ctrl & B Bold
Ctrl & U Underline
Ctrl & I Italic
 
RightClick Open the context sensitive menu for the current cursor location
Shift & F10 Open the context sensitive menu for the current cursor location
MenuIcon Open the context sensitive menu for the current cursor location
 
F1 Activate the help system for the foreground program
F5 Refresh the current view
 
Delete Delete an item in a program or move a file to the Recycle Bin
Shift & Delete Delete an item permanently, without putting it in the Recycle Bin
 
Dialog Box and Menu Control
Space In a dialog box, this clicks the outlined button, toggle the outlined check box, or selects the outlined option
Enter In a dialog box, click the shadowed button
Esc In a dialog box, the same as clicking Cancel
 
Alt & letter In a dialog box or menu, selects the choice with the letter underlined
letter In a menu, selects the choice with the letter underlined
 
Tab Outline the next control in a dialog box or the next window pane in the program control order
Shift & Tab Outline the previous control in a dialog box or the previous window pane in the program control order
 
Ctrl & PageDown Switch to the tab to the right in a tabbed dialog box
Ctrl & PageUp Switch to the tab to the left in a tabbed dialog box
 
Program Control

For all running programs, the Z-order represents the order in which they are displayed. The program at the top of the Z-order is displayed in the foreground and the program at the bottom of the Z-order is displayed furthest in the background behind all others.

note: Microsoft Windows Vista changed the standard Z-order behavior and broke the shortcuts described below. The standard behavior can be restored by editing the registry. To the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer add a REG_DWORD named AltTabSettings with value 1.

If you do not know how to edit the registry then ask an expert or disregard this section of Program Control shortcuts.

 
Alt & Tab Brings the second program in the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
Alt & (Tab & Tab) Brings the third program in the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
Alt & (Tab & Tab & Tab) Brings the fourth program in the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
etc
 
Alt & F4 Closes the foreground program
 
Alt & Space Display the foreground program system menu
Alt & Space N Minimize the foreground program and put it at the bottom of the Z-order
 
Alt & Shift & Tab Brings the program at the bottom of the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
Alt & Shift & (Tab & Tab) Brings the program second to the bottom of the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
etc
 
Alt & Esc Put the foreground program at the bottom of the Z-order
Alt & Shift & Esc Bring the program at the bottom of the Z-order to the foreground (top of the Z-order)
 
Alt Activate menu bar options
F10 Activate menu bar options
 
Document and Window Control
Alt & - Display the Multiple Document Interface (MDI) child window's system menu
Alt & - N Minimize the foreground MDI child window
Ctrl & Tab Switch to the next MDI child window
Ctrl & F4 Closes the foreground MDI child window
Alt & F6 Switches between multiple windows in the same program (for example the Find dialog box and the main program window)
 
List and Explorer Control
arrow keys Move the cursor within a field or the highlight within a list
Shift & arrows Move the cursor within a field or the highlight within a list and highlight every element traversed
 
Ctrl & arrow Move the cursor within a field by the next larger jump size, such as by words rather than by characters
Ctrl & Shift & arrow Move the cursor within a field by the next larger jump size, such as by words rather than by characters, and highlight every element traversed
 
Alt & Enter View properties of the currently highlighted item
Alt & DoubleClick Display properties of a file
 
Shift & Click Extend highlight from previous cursor location
Ctrl & Click Add or remove the clicked item from the set of highlighted items
 
F2 Rename highlighted item
F3 Find files
 
DragAndDrop Move or Copy the highlighted item
Ctrl & DragAndDrop Copy or Move the highlighted item
Ctrl & Shift & DragAndDrop Create a shortcut to the highlighted item
 
Backspace Switch to the parent folder
 
NumberPad+ Expand the currently highlighted folder
RightArrow Expand the currently highlighted folder if collapsed, otherwise go to the first child
NumberPad* Expand full tree under the currently highlighted folder
NumberPad- Collapse the currently highlighted folder
LeftArrow Collapse the currently highlighted folder if expanded, otherwise go to the parent
 
Operating System Control
note: not all keyboards have a Windows Logo key
 
Ctrl & Esc Opens the start menu
WindowsLogo Opens the start menu
 
Ctrl & Esc Tab Activate the task bar
WindowsLogo Tab Activate the task bar
 
Ctrl & Esc P Opens the list of installed programs
Ctrl & Esc S C Opens the Control Panel
Ctrl & Esc U Shuts down the computer
 
WindowsLogo & L Log off Windows
WindowsLogo & E Opens the Windows Explorer for browsing local and mapped network drives
WindowsLogo & E Windows Explorer
WindowsLogo & R Run dialog box
WindowsLogo & M Minimize all (this may change the order of the recently used programs list)
Shift & WindowsLogo & M Undo minimize all (this may change the order of the recently used programs list)
WindowsLogo & D Minimize all open windows and display the desktop (this may change the order of the recently used programs list)
WindowsLogo & F Find files or folders
Ctrl & WindowsLogo & F Find computer
Ctrl & WindowsLogo & Tab Move focus from Start, to the Quick Launch toolbar, to the system tray
WindowsLogo & Tab Cycle through task bar buttons
WindowsLogo & Break System Properties dialog box
 
Shift & InsertCD Bypass the CD automatic run feature


© Copyright 2004-2006 Jonah Probell