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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad





The Napkin Notes Blog

Ten Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts

WGarth Callaghan

Keyboard shortcuts are designed to save time by making simple tasks more efficient. Rather than highlighting a word, navigating your cursor to the top of the window, clicking "Edit," finding "Copy," and then clicking "Copy," you could just highlight the word and press CTRL+C. Cut, copy, and paste (CTRL+X, CTRL+C, and CTRL+V respectively), print (CTRL+P), and new document/page (CTRL+N) are some of the most common shortcuts that are available in most programs. However, there are a ton of shortcuts built into Windows 7 that are less well-known. We will list ten of the coolest and most useful ones here.

[Note: For those who are new to keyboard shortcuts, let me give you a quick tutorial on how they're done. When you see a command like CTRL+N it means that you hold the CTRL button (located at the bottom of your keyboard to the left or right of the space bar) and then tap the N key. If you did this correctly, a new window should have opened up. Close it, and come back to this blog! The same applies for commands with the WINDOWS key, but instead you hold down the key with the Windows logo on it.]

Now for the list:

1) WINDOWS+LEFT (or RIGHT) : This shortcut shrinks the current window to the left (or right) half of the screen. This is very useful when you need to compare two pages or need to keep switching between windows but are tired of clicking back and forth. This can also be done by dragging the window all the way to the left or right edge of the screen.

Pressing WINDOWS+UP will maximize the window. From here, pressing WINDOWS+DOWN will restore the window to its previous size, and pressing WINDOWS+DOWN again minimizes it.

3) WINDOWS+SPACE: By pressing this combination you can preview your desktop to see if the file you're looking for is there without having to close or minimize all of the windows you have open. Keep holding down WINDOWS to keep looking at your desktop.

This will minimize all windows BUT the one you are currently working in. Using this shortcut again will bring the rest of the windows back up like you had them.

5) CTRL+SHIFT+N: If you are on your desktop or are navigating through folders (in Documents, for example) and you would like to make a new folder you could right click in the window, hover over "New," then go over to "Folder," and click. Or, you could save time by using this shortcut.

6) WINDOWS+F: Say you need to pull up  that expense report from 2009 or find the pictures of your kids on the beach from last summer. Instead of wasting time by hunting through a labyrinth of folders you can use this shortcut and then just start typing for the name of what you want. Windows will search through names of folders and documents, and even in the text of the documents to find what you're looking for.

Use this shortcut when you're getting up from your computer in the office or at school and you don't want people going through your computer. This will lock your computer until you come back to put in your password.

8) CTRL+SHIFT+ESC: We tweeted about this recently, but I felt that it was important enough to use it again. CTRL+ALT+DELETE is the classic way to bring up the Task Manager so that you can end programs that are locked up. For some reason, Microsoft decided to change this particular shortcut with Windows Vista and put an extra step between you and your Task Manager. To bypass this screen, use CTRL+SHIFT+ESC instead.

9) WINDOWS+TAB: This is definitely the coolest shortcut out of the ten, visually speaking. When you have multiple windows open and you need to switch between them, use this shortcut to bring up a kind of 3D Rolodex of all of your windows called Aero Flip 3D. For this shortcut you hold the WINDOWS key and tap the TAB key however many times you need to switch to the option you want. Release WINDOWS when you have arrived at the window of your choice. This is basically the slower but "cooler" version of...

10) ALT+TAB:
This is the classic. This feature is by no means new to Windows 7, but any geek would be remiss at leaving it out. The technique is very much the same as the previous shortcut (hold ALT and keep pressing TAB until you highlight the window you want), but this shortcut is cleaner and more efficient. If you take one shortcut from this list make it this one. It WILL save you time.


A Google search for "Windows 7 shortcuts" will show that there are plenty of other shortcuts out there (some useful, some not so useful) but I feel that these are the best, most time-saving ones available to Windows 7 users. Until you get the hang of them you might want to make a little cheat sheet with your favorites next to your computer. Before long you'll be impressing your family and co-workers by how quickly you switch between windows or how infrequently you use your mouse. Enjoy!