When Windows 8 came out, I got really into the new shortcuts and found out some had been there for a while that I never knew about. Windows 10 is out now and I've learned a few more that have been around just as long that I never knew. Since there are a lot of shortcuts, I've split this into two parts.

  • Part 1: What's New
  • Part 2: Old Classics <=(We are here)

Part 2 Old classics

If you are a Windows 7 power user, there is nothing new for you here. But you might want to skim the list anyway, in case you've been missing something useful for years and didn't know it. I don't have anything older than 7 but can confirm these do appear in that version. In Windows 10, they are still here, and can improve your productivity to use them.

WinKey + l => Lock screen

If you use a computer in your day job, this is a must know shortcut. Every time I get up, I instinctively use WinKey + 1 to lock my machine. I also have a 5-minute timeout, but pranksters and inter-office practical jokes have drummed this one into me.

WinKey + Pause => System Information

This is an old favorite of mine. Use WinKey + Pause to open the System information screen (usually labelled as 'System'). It's a quick way to check the specs of a machine, its processors, memory, machine name, version and SKU, 64 or 32 bit. It is also a great way to quickly get to Advanced system settings, which is usually linked off of this screen.

WinKey + p => Project (Duplicate, extend etc)

If you use projectors and tvs a lot to present on, this is another must know shortcut. WinKey + p show the Project selection, and successive presses of 'p' while holding down the WinKey will toggle through the options. Release WinKey will active the projection mode selected. You can also use the mouse once the selection screen is visible, or Esc to dismiss.

WinKey + m => Minimise windows

WinKey + m minimises all the applications on your screen down to the taskbar. This can be a nice way to remove the clutter from your screen, before opening back up one task to focus on, or launch something from your desktop.

With Multiple Desktops in Windows 10, this only minimises the apps on the desktop you are currently on, and not any of the other ones, which is nice.

As a companion to this, if you use WinKey + Shift + m it restores all the minimised windows.

WinKey + d => Toggle show desktop/restore apps

WinKey + d and WinKey + m are very similar at first glance. What makes WinKey + d different is rather than just minimising everything, it toggles hiding and showing all your windows that are in focus.

This is slightly less useful than it seems since all you really get to do is see the desktop, copy or paste icons from the desktop, then restore, and not much more. Anything else, like opening something from the desktop will stop you being able to restore again. However, you can still use WinKey + Shift + m to restore again at this stage as well.

WinKey + r => Run

Windows has a Run dialog. It can be launched from the start menu, searching start, or using the shortcut key WinKey + r. A great way to run an app from a specific name. I mostly use it to quickly run applications like notepad, or calc, since they are quick to type, or when I need to run RegEdit.

WinKey + e => Explorer

I use WinKey + e almost daily. If I need a file explorer, this is the way I get one open, much faster than grabbing the mouse and clicking file explorer on the taskbar.

WinKey + t = > Taskbar

Want to focus on the taskbar? WinKey + t gets you there, and you can use the arrow keys to navigate, and Enter to launch or show an app and give it focus.

WinKey + b => System tray icon area

Want to focus on the system tray? There is a shortcut for that too: WinKey + b. Again we use the arrow keys and Enter to navigate and select something.

WinKey + u => Ease of access center

Something I never use, but here for completeness, WinKey + u launches the Ease of access center.

Alt + F4 => Close

I've tried to focus on WinKey + shortcuts, but this is a great complement to all the other I have mentioned. Alt + F4 closes the current window or Application. If you are on the desktop, this launches the Shutdown Windows dialog instead.

Ctrl + Alt + Delete => Windows Security

Ctrl + Alt + Delete is pretty well known, and even has its own Wiki page. In Windows, at some point in time this launched the Task Manager directly, but these days it brings you to a full-screen menu, providing quick actions like launching the Task Manager, And allowing you to perform session actions like, log out, switch user and lock.

Alt + Tab => Switch Focus

I mentioned Alt + Tab when I talked about WinKey + Tab in Part 1. This launches the Task Switcher. Holding Alt and successively pressing Tab will cycle through all of the windows you can focus on and will gain focus when you release the Alt key. In Windows 10, using Multiple Desktops, only the Windows in the current desktop show up in the Alt + Tab menu.

Summary

I've missed a lot. I know I have. But I really wanted to focus on the WinKey based shortcuts. Maybe I will come back for a part 3 at some point and cover a bunch of Windows conventions that work across many, but not all of the apps. For now, I hope you learned one new thing to take away with you today to start using tomorrow.