Know your shortcuts!

We perform a number of repetitive tasks on our computers daily. Whether it be renaming files or a simple combination of cut-copy-paste, shortcuts can help save some of your frustration. Of course, different shortcuts apply in different interfaces.


There are a decent number of Windows shortcuts revealed here. Microsoft Support too covers some of these here. While Ctrl + CCtrl + V and Ctrl + X are quite well known, some of the really-useful-but-less-known shortcuts are:

  • F2 key (to rename a file)
  • Alt + Enter (to see the properties of the selected file)
  • Ctrl while dragging an item (copies the item)
  • Ctrl + Shift while dragging an item (creates a shortcut for the item)
  • Ctrl + Esc (opens the Start menu)
  • Win + M (minimizes all open windows)
  • Win + Shift + M (restores the minimized windows)
  • Win + L (locks your computer)
  • Alt + F4 (Quits the active program)
  • Ctrl + F4 (Closes the active instance in a program with multiple instances running)


The easiest way of finding out shortcuts in Gmail is to press the ? (question-mark) key while in Gmail. This should open a semi-transparent window showing the shortcuts. Alternatively, the shortcuts are here as well. One of my personal favourites is the Chrome application ‘KeyRocket for Gmail‘. KeyRocket reminds you of shortcuts while you do your monotonous tasks using a mouse.

Microsoft Word

A comprehensive list of Microsoft Word shortcuts are available at the site of Microsoft Support here. The site covers the different shortcuts for Word 2007 and Word 2010 as well. All applications part of the Microsoft Office Pack follow more or less the same shortcuts. If you find the Microsoft Support site too cluttered, I would suggest you try this (pdf).

My favorite shortcut is the Ctrl + Shift + C and Ctrl + Shift + V combination. While Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V copies and pastes text, respectively, adding the Shift allows one to copy paste the formatting for two differently formatted texts. This merely avoids the use of the Format Painter option, which in itself is quite less known.

There are many shortcuts out there, the best way to learn is to look up a relevant shortcut when you are performing repetitive tasks using your mouse.

Wikipedia contains a nice little comparison of the different keyboard shortcuts across platforms here. Mac OS x shortcuts are provided by Apple on its website. Generally the Cmd (command) key of Mac OS X replaces the related shortcuts as performed while using the Ctrl (control) key on a Windows computer.

(The featured image is taken under the Creative Commons License from Flickr user 3ric15 here)

(Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, the author does not have any rights in any media content, including audio, video and images posted anywhere on this site)

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