In terms of desktops in 2017, Windows had a market share of 83%, Mac OS X accounted for 13%, Linux 1%, and less than 1% used Chrome OS.
While smartphones and tablets have been increasing their market share in the last decade, desktops and laptops are still regularly used in the world of business.
Put simply, typing on a touchscreen keyboard on your smartphone or tablet isn’t effective enough when it comes to forging customer relations, brand communication, or even creating text for Indesign or Photoshop projects. This means that the qwerty keyboard still remains one of your PC’s most important peripherals.
Writing texts in Microsoft Office, editing images in Adobe Photoshop, developing web sites, etc. all require that you can type quickly and effectively. In order to do this, you’ll need to learn a few important keyboard shortcuts for Windows.
Are you sick of right-clicking on the mouse to open a context menu and then left-clicking to choose the option?
Did you make a mistake? It only takes a second to accidentally select a load of text instead of a word and delete everything. Don’t worry, though! Everything can be undone with a quick press of ctrl + z.
Here are Superprof’s 10 best keyboard shortcuts to speed up your work on Windows.
What’s the Point in Windows Keyboard Shortcuts?
To put it simply, shortcut keys are useful because they help you to do things more quickly. This might seem obvious, but you’ll soon see how useful they can be and how much time they can save you. You've probably noticed that your keyboard layout includes a lot more than just letters, numbers, and a spacebar. Your keyboard has function keys, esc, ctrl, alt, and the Windows key (Command if you're using Mac). They're there for a reason, after all.
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The digital revolution has turned workplaces on their heads. Across the channel, the French journal Sciences Humaines had this to say:
“In the years to come, 42% of jobs are at risk of being transformed by digitalisation. 3 million jobs could be eradicated. Robotisation continues to deeply destabilise the [French] middle classes.”
The same could happen here! Everyone will therefore be required to be familiar with computers and how to operate them effectively if they’d like to keep working. Mastering shortcuts when interacting with computers is therefore seen as a must for all users. It’s a quick and easy way to increase your productivity.
In fact, knowing the shortcuts can save valuable seconds every time you use them and, over the course of a day, drastically improve how much work you output.
From simple operations like opening a window to editing texts (copying, cutting, and pasting), opening windows explorer, placing an image into a text, editing and developing websites, you can use keyboard shortcuts to reduce the time it takes to carry out a number of different digital tasks.
Another important thing about these shortcuts is that if your mouse, trackpad, touchpad, or wheel stop working, you can still operate the computer effectively without them.
You can carry out most tasks on your computer using just the arrow keys, escape, enter, ctrl, alt, and the number pad.
Not convinced? Here’s a quick test for you:
Do the following operations by just using your mouse, then try it again using mac keyboard shortcuts. You can save around 50% of the time taken by using the latter method.
Open your browser.
Search something on google.
Click on an article.
Highlight a paragraph.
Copy and paste that paragraph into Microsoft Word (or OpenOffice).
Select all and change the colour of the text.
Open the file explorer.
Choose an image and import it into the text document.
Save the file and then export it as a .pdf.
Send the file by email to another computer.
Not know the shortcuts for any of these? Why not start with a few computing tutorials for beginners?
Here are some of the most important keyboard shortcuts you should learn...
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The 10 Best Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
While these shortcuts are incredibly simple, they’re also incredibly useful and everyone should know them.
Copying and Pasting
Instead of right-clicking and choosing “copy” then going to a new part of the document and right-clicking again to choose “paste”, you can carry out these operations by holding down the ctrl key (the command key is used on Macs) and pressing:
Crtl + c
Crtl + v
This is useful for anyone who wants to edit document more quickly. When you copy or cut, the computer saves the text temporarily to the clipboard. You then just have to scroll to where you want to insert it and use the paste shortcut.
Cutting and Pasting
So what does ctrl + x do?
When you press on cntrl and x, the text or image you’ve highlighted will disappear. This isn’t used for deleting your selection, it stores your selection you can paste it elsewhere in your document by pressing “ctrl + v”.
How many of you have accidentally deleted something by mistake?
When you’re editing a text, if you accidentally select a whole line or paragraph instead of a word, you might end up deleting the whole thing. A quick press of ctrl + z will undo the last step you made.
Useful, isn’t it?
This is a great shortcut if you want to know how many times you’ve used a specific word, find a specific part of a text, or see if a text talks about a certain topic:
In Windows, you’ll need to use the shortcut ctrl + f (for find). You can also use this function in browsers, too. Keep in mind that this isn't the same as the search you use online. This function is used solely to find exact matches within a text or browser window.
Rather than scrolling from the very top of a page to the very bottom while left-clicking with your mouse, you can use the keyboard shortcut ctrl + a to select everything. This is really useful for formatting an entire text if you've ended up with a lot of different fonts being used.
Opening the Task Manager
Do you need to lock your computer or close a programme that’s stopped functioning?
The famous shortcut ctrl + alt + del will open the dialogue that you need. You can consider the shortcut ctrl + alt + del as your panic button for when your computer starts bugging out.
Shortcuts for Managing Windows
In this day and age, it’s very common for computer users to get lost in the various windows and tabs they have open. Finding the page you want to look at can end up like trying to find a needle in a digital haystack.
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Pressing alt + tab will quickly take you to your next active window. If you hold down alt, every time you press tab, you’ll move to another window. This is very useful when you have a lot of windows open like your settings, a database, image editing software, webpages, etc.
This can save you a lot of time against finding a stack of windows on the task bar.
Minimising All Windows and Returning to the Desktop
If you want to go straight back to your desktop, you just need to press Windows + d. This will minimise all windows to the task bar and you’ll find yourself back on your desktop. Pressing Windows key + d again will maximise all the windows. This is useful if you end up with tonnes of windows stacked on top of each other.
Additionally, simply pressing the Windows button will open the start menu (which is the Windows logo in newer versions).
Moving Windows Around
Here’s a shortcut that I like: especially when you’re working with multiple screens. This can be used to move windows around: Windows + Shift + arrow keys (left or right)
Create a Virtual Desktop
If you’re working on a small screen, like a 10” or 13” laptop, you can create a virtual desktop. A virtual desktop will be created to the right of your current desktop. The command is simple: Ctrl + Windows + d. This means you can juggle several desktops without any of them getting too cluttered. You can navigate between desktops as you wish and remove them when you're finished. As you’ve probably gathered, there are plenty of different shortcuts on Windows.
A Few More Bonus Shortcuts
Here’s a list of other useful keyboard shortcuts:
As you can imagine, we haven’t included all of them. There are literally hundreds of them...
Move an active window: Alt + Space Bar + l + arrow keys
Fullscreen mode: F11
Open the file menu: Alt + f
Change tabs: Ctrl + 1, 2, 3, etc.
Update the page/refresh: F5
Delete a file directly without sending it to the recycle bin: Caps lock + del
New tab: Ctrl + t
New file: Ctrl + n
Print: Ctrl + p
Close the window: Alt + F4
Bold: Ctrl + b
Italics: Ctrl + i
Show the properties of the selected file: Alt + return
In the special characters window in Microsoft Word, you can also find the shortcuts for the characters you want to use. This is especially useful when typing in foreign languages as the English keyboard doesn’t tend to have accent keys.
For example, if you want to put an acute accent on the letter “E” (like in the words café or cliché), you just need to type: Alt + 144 (on the touchpad).
Finally, keyboard shortcuts are essential if you want to work with Photoshop and edit photos. If you want to work effectively, keyboard shortcuts can make both Macs and PCs far quicker than a simple typewriter.
Ready to find out how to type faster?