You may already know about CTRL+ALT+DELETE and ALT+TAB, but what about the all-important F1 key? And what happens when you hit the shift key five times? Read on for 10 keyboard shortcuts that every Windows user should have at their fingertips.
1. CTRL + ALT + DELETE
The last resort (well, besides the power button) for many a Windows user after a program freezes on the desktop, this essential three-key combo call up the Windows Task Manager, which lets you pinpoint and close a misbehaving application.
Note: on Windows 7 systems, CTRL+ALT+DELETE calls up a screen with other options besides launching the Task Manager, including locking the computer, switching the current user, and logging off altogether.
2. ALT + TAB
Here’s another keyboard shortcut every Windows user should know. Press ALT+TAB to call up a rectangular window with icons representing your currently running programs; just “tab” over to the app you want, then hit Enter to make the switch.
Need a little help? Tap the F1 key at the top of your keyboard to launch a Help window for the application you’re currently using, or for Windows in general.
4. CTRL + ESC, or the Windows key
Gives you instant access to the Start Menu; just use the arrow keys to navigate to the program, directory, or option you want, then hit Enter to select.
5. ALT + F4
Closes the active window you have open, such as an open Internet Explorer window. Also, if the window you’re closing is the only one that’s open for a given program, the app in question will go ahead and quit.
6. Windows key + the “E” key
Launches Windows Explorer, the essential desktop browser for all the applications, directories (like your personal Windows user directory), documents, and other system files on your PC.
7. Windows key + “M” key
Need to see your desktop this instant? Use this keyboard combo to minimize every open window at once, thus revealing the Windows desktop.
8. Windows key + SHIFT + “M” key
So, you found that missing file on your desktop, and you’re ready to dive back into that Excel chart. Now what? Strike this trio of keys to restore all the windows you just minimized.
9. Windows key + “L”
Sends you instantly to the Windows lock screen, perfect for hiding your work (or your Facebook wall) during a quick trip to the restroom.
10. Pressing the SHIFT key five times
So, what exactly does striking the shift key five times in rapid succession get you? Well, it’ll turn on a Windows feature called “Sticky Keys,” which lets you press the shift, control, “alt,” or Windows keys one at a time rather than all at once—handy for anyone who has trouble dealing with complex keyboard combinations.