What are hotkeys

Hotkeys for Windows 10


Windows logo key keyboard shortcuts

Finding keyboard shortcuts

Creating your own custom hotkeys

Creating a key command to restart your device



Long ago when I was first learning computers, I was like most people overwhelmed and amazed at what I didn’t know. When a friend of mine was showing me the ropes and he began taping away on his keyboard with special keystrokes opening and closing windows, moving copying and cutting data faster than I could follow, I had realized the power of keyboard shortcuts. Like most people, I learned to use a computer using just the mouse to point and click my way through everything I did, open, close, copy, paste, move, navigation etc. but if you want to become more proficient, learning keyboard shortcuts are one way to level up your computing skills. So today I’ll show many keyboard shortcuts to you so you can use on your Windows system to get things done faster. I’ll also show you how you can create your own custom shortcuts to customize and personalize your system to better work for you. 

So without further ado, let’s get right into it.

What are Hotkeys?

Keyboard shortcuts are keys or combinations of keys that provide an alternative way to do a variety of tasks that you’d typically do with a mouse.
There are hundreds of different shortcuts available to you. You can select an option below, and it'll open/expand to display a list of related shortcuts:

Hotkeys for Windows 10

Starting in the shallows before we dive into the deep, I’ll provide a short list of the most used hotkeys.


Ctrl+Z will undo your last action. Almost anything you have done, from overwriting or accidentally deleting a half your report you have been working on, to deleting a files in your documents folder, will be undone.

Ctrl+W: Close

Ctrl+W will close out the item you are currently in. So you can shut down and close Office documents (without saving) as well as File Explorer or even internet browser tabs quickly and easily.

Ctrl+A: Select all

Ctrl+A Is probably one of the most basic and often used shortcuts, it allows you to select everything in the application you are using. Such as all the files on a folder, all the test in a browser or text editor or document. It can be a time saver when you have tons of files that you need to move or delete.

Win+D: Show or hide the desktop

Win+D Is another key that I use quite a lot is the desktop shortcut, it minimizes your open windows revelaing your desktop. Very useful if you are like me and keep dozens of apps files and windows open allowing you to minimize them all in one key stroke rather than hunting down the minimize windows option on each open window.

Win+left arrow or Win+right arrow: Snap windows

Win+arrow Is a recent discovery of min is the snap hotkey, just like dragging the active window and touching it to the screens edge and snaping it to cover that half of the widow’s screen. A quick two key stroke will do the same thing saving you time not having to figure out how to gran that busy windows bar of yours.

Alt+Tab: Switch apps

Alt+Tab Is another useful shortcut, it allows you to quickly pull up a list of applications or windows currently open. Quite useful when you need to pan back and forth between multiple word docs for referencing or explorer windows.

Win+Tab: Open the Task view

Win+Tab, A more advanced version of the previous hotkey, it shows a thumbnail listing of activity is a scrollable timeline. Helpful if you need to quickly open a file that you were working on in the weeks past. Similar to quick access recent used files list.

Tab and Shift+Tab: toggle back and forth

Tab/Shift+Tab, this one has multiple effects depending on where you are in a file. In terms of navigating, it moves your highlighted selection. Helpful if you mouse is not playing nice, Tab alone will select the next option in a list, Shift+Tab will go back in the opposite direction. When you reach the end of all available options it will cycle back to the beginning of the list.

Ctrl+Esc: Open the Start menu

Ctrl+Esc, anywhere you are in windows this key combo will open your windows bar the same way the widows key on a keyboard does. helpful if you don’t have a working windows key.

Win+L: Lock your computer

Win+L Is a quick touch of the Win+L will lock your system immediately, helpful if you want to step away and not wait for the system to lock after being idle for a time.

Win+I: Open Settings

Win+I will get you to the windows settings to allow you access to system configuration and settings.

Win+A Action Center Panel

Win+A, the action center panel opens a fly out screen from the right to quickly access settings and other actions like screen snipping.

Win+S: Search Windows

Win+S, This is one of my highly used hotkeys, the search allows you to quickly search Cortana for anything on your system, such as an application, setting or file or even web pages if what you’re looking for is not located.

Win+PrtScn: Screenshots

Win+PrtScn quickly save a screenshot of your entire desktop, if you have multiple monitors, it will screenshot all of them into one image. I find it more useful with a single monitor. Its good to note that some keyboard may not have the PrtScn key on it, in which case you can revert back to the Win+A for the snipping tool.

Alt+PrtScn – Active window screenshots

Alt+PrtScn, If you don’t want the entire window, this hotkey will screen capture just the front active window. Very useful for producing instructional docs. As it copies the image to the clipboard. You can then Ctrl+v to past the image into a doc.

Ctrl+Shift+Esc: Open the Task Manager

Ctrl+Shift+Esc will open the task manager for viewing processes, performance and system info, a useful key stroke if you want to end a process that is not responding or to see what is taking up all resources.

Win+Ctrl+D: Add a new virtual desktop

Win+Ctrl+D A virtual desktop is useful for extra space for separating and focusing on multiple individual tasks. You can cycle through all your desktops using the Win+Ctrl+Arrow (left or right). You can use the Win+Ctrl+F4 to close the actively viewed desktop.

Win+X: Open the hidden menu

Win+X is a quick link flyout that you can use to quickly access system settings. I use this a lot for quickly accessing settings such as printer settings.

Shift+alt+arrow: Move highlighted

Shift+alt+arrow will take the current highlighted text and move it up/down to the next paragraph, useful when formatting documents. 


There are 12 (F1-F12) FKeys, each has many different functions depending on when or where you use them. Below I’ll provide a couple of my top uses for the keys.


-       The top use, almost all programs will open a help screen when you press F1

-       You can enter the computer BIOS settings by using this key during bootup.

-       Crtl+F1 expands and collapses the command ribbon in Office.


-       Let’s you rename files/folders in Windows explorer.

-       Alt+Ctrl+F2 is the shortcut for open file in Microsoft Word.

-       Ctrl+F2 print preview in Microsoft Office apps.

-       As well, you can enter the computer BIOS settings by using this key during bootup.


-       Will open the search option for many programs, including file explorer and most web browsers.

-       When searching in a many apps, you can continue to use F3 to scroll through to the next item found in a search.

-       alternately, you can scroll back up the search list using the shift+f3

-       Shift+F3 alternate the current case setting of the highlighted text in Microsoft Word. Such as all test to caps, 1st letter of every word to caps, and all words from caps to lower case.

-       Windows key+F3 opens the search window in Microsoft Outlook.


-       Will open the address bar in both web browsers as well as Windows file explorer.

-       You can use F4 to Repeat your last action in Microsoft Word.

-       Using Ctrl+F4 or Alt+F4 allows you to close the active program window you’re currently using.


-       Pressing F5 refreshes or reloads the page, document window and refresh the list of contents in a folder.

-       You can open the find, replace, and go to window in Microsoft Word using F5.

-       In PowerPoint, pressing F5 starts a slideshow

-       Ctrl+F5 forces a complete refresh of the web page, clearing the cache and downloading all contents of the page again.


-       Ctrl+Shift+F6 opens to another open Microsoft Word document.


-       This one is great as it opens the spell and grammar editor for Microsoft Office suits.

-       Another good use is Shift+F7 which opens the Thesaurus on the word you highlighted.

-       Press the F7 lets you view the history of commands that you had previous used in Windows Command line.


-       In Windows startup menu, F8 will let you access Safe Mode.


-       You can Send/Receive when used within Microsoft Outlook


-       While booting the computer F10 will enter the BIOS.

-       F10 reveals the active keys for the ribbon of active application.

-       You can perform a simulated R-Click for a highlighted item by using the Shift+F10


-       F11 will enter or exit between full and windowed mode in an internet browser and file explorer.

-       With office products, F11 will highlight the next hyperlink within the Doc while shift+F11 will go back up the list.


-       Opens the Save as window in Microsoft Word.

-       Ctrl+F12 activates the open option for Microsoft Word.

-       Shift+F12 saves the Microsoft Word just like the Ctrl+S.

-       Ctrl+Shift+F12 activates the print command Just like the Ctrl+P.

-       F12 opens debug tool for browsers.

Windows Logo Key keyboard shortcuts

Windows key + A:

Open Action center on the right of the screen

Windows key + S:

Open Search and place the cursor in the input field

Windows key + Tab:

Open Task view (Task view then remains open)

Windows key + X:

Open the Admin menu in the left-hand bottom corner of the screen

Windows key + Q:

Open Search using Cortana and voice control

Windows key  + U:

Opens accessibility settings

Windows key + Esc:

Turn Magnifier off

Windows key + Plus/Minus (+/-):

Plus sign (+) or Minus sign (-) turns on magnifier

Windows key + CTRL + D:

Add a virtual desktop

Windows key + CTRL + Arrow right:

Switch to the virtual desktop on the right

Windows key + CTRL + Arrow left:

Switch to the virtual desktop on the left

Windows key + CTRL + F4:

Close the current virtual desktop

Windows key + Ctrl + M:

Open Magnifier settings

Windows key + Ctrl + C:

Turn color filters on or off

Windows key + Ctrl + N:

Open Narrator settings

Windows key + Ctrl + S:

Turn on Windows Speech Recognition

Windows key + Ctrl + O:

Turn on the On-Screen Keyboard

Find existing shortcuts for applications

Most, if not all applications, will have keyboard shortcuts next to their menu items. By hovering over the button in the application ribbon will sometimes reveal its keyboard shortcut. As well, you can review through the provided or online users manual and it should have available shortcut keys listed for you to reference. 

Creating your own custom hotkeys

An extremely valuable feature with Windows is the ability to create your own custom hotkeys

Custom hotkeys are very helpful in personalizing the user experience letting you quicky perform many tasks with just a keystroke.   Here we’ll talk about how to set up your own personalized hot keys.

To create a custom hotkey, you’ll do the following.

1.    R-click the shortcut icon you want a hotkey for, then select Properties.

2.    Next select the shortcut tab.

3.    Click into the Shortcut key box and perform the hotkey or key combo you want as your option for opening the program.

Note: that the if you select a single letter as your shortcut, it will automatically add the “Ctrl + Alt”. You can also use the function keys as options as well.

4.    Select Apply, then OK to close the window.

5.    Press your new hotkey to test it out. It will open the program or web page you specified.

Note: There are tons of existing shortcuts available on your system, if you do s search for “*.LNK) on your Windows 10 system, it‘ll provide you a listing of all the existing shortcuts for your computer’s files.

Creating a key command to restart your device

I find this helpful as you can use it to quickly restart your system at the end of the day/week.

1.    Create a Desktop shortcut for the desired function. To do this, right-click the Desktop and then select New then select Shortcut.

2.    In the “Type the location of the item:” box, enter “shutdown.exe -r -t 00”. This will create a shortcut that reboots your computer.

Note: You can also change the command and enter “shutdown -s -t 00”, this will shut down the device completely or enter “shutdown.exe –L” to sign out of the system.

3.    On the next screen you can label the shortcut (example: “Restart PC”)

4.    Select Finish complete the creation of the shortcut onto your desktop.

5.    Next, we Right-click the new shortcut, select properties and click the shortcut tab, then press the key combo you want to set for your shortcut key. (Example Ctrl+Alt+Shift)

6.    Select OK to exit the window.

Now, when you press Ctrl+Alt+Shift you Windows 10 device will restart.


If you made it this far into the article you have some real interest in learning about the shortcut keys available to you so here is a little bonus section on PC shortcut keys for special characters

Many special characters can be created using keyboard shortcuts. Below are some of the more common and popular special characters and the keyboard shortcuts to create them.

Special Character Keys


Alt+0223          ß

Alt+0224          à

Alt+0228          ä

Alt+0231          ç

Alt+0232          è

Alt+0236          ì

Alt+0241          ñ

Alt+0242          ò

Alt+0246          ö

Alt+0248          ø

Alt+0252          ü


Alt+0128          € (Euro currency)

Alt+0153          ™

Alt+0162          ¢ (Cent symbol)

Alt+0163          £ (British Pound currency)

Alt+0165          ¥ (Japanese Yen currency)

Alt+0169          ©

Alt+0174          ®

Alt+0176          ° (degree symbol)

Alt+0177          ± (plus/minus symbol)

Alt+0191          ¿

Alt+0198          Æde to ensure you are using the correct sequence of memory slots.


There are a lot of available shortcuts that you can use with operating systems that can help you to be more efficient. This is just a short list of what is available if you are looking for something that is not listed here, an internet search will help you to find more extensive listings. Just like with anything else “if you don’t use it you lose it”. If you want to be a blazing fast hot-keyer, I’d suggest making a list of your favorite ones and print them out so they will be readily available to reference and with repetitive use they’ll be ingrained into you and you’ll wonder how you ever worked without them.

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