Shortcuts to productivity

If – like us – you spend most of your working day in front of a computer, it’s likely you’ll have learnt some neat tricks and tips to help make common tasks more efficient. Keyboard shortcuts are a great way of speeding up your workflow, and here we share some of our favourites which we hope you might also find useful. These apply to recent versions of Windows (although many have Mac equivalents) and are offered without warranty: feel free to try them out, and – most importantly – have fun!


There are a whole host of handy shortcuts to help manage programs on your desktop. You’ll likely know about ALT+TAB to cycle through open windows (and ALT+SHIFT+TAB to go backwards) but how about WINDOWS+TAB for a slightly fancier view? With a currently active window you can use WINDOWS with the ARROW keys to maximise (WINDOWS+UP), minimise (WINDOWS+DOWN) or send a window to the left or right of your screen (WINDOWS+LEFT/WINDOWS+RIGHT). ALT+F4 will close the current window completely. Want a quick screenshot? ALT+PrtScr will grab a specific window only, as opposed to your entire screen. If you find your view has become cluttered with too much open, try WINDOWS+D to minimise everything and instantly get back to your desktop.

For file management, you can use F2 to rename a selected file rather than the annoying click… wait… click again. If renaming multiple files in a folder, TAB will move on to the next one on the list. SHIFT+DELETE will permanently delete a file bypassing the Recycle Bin, which is useful for clearing space on your hard disk if you’re willing to run the risk!

Shortcuts can also help with a range of common admin tasks. WINDOWS+E opens a window listing recently accessed files and folders, available drives, and more. WINDOWS+X pops up a neat menu at the bottom left of the screen with quick access links to useful features like ‘Control Panel’, ‘Task Manager’, and ‘Shut Down’. WINDOWS+L will instantly lock your PC and go to the password screen, which is a handy security measure to remember whenever you leave your desk.


With the increasing use of browser based web services such as MasterVision, knowing just a few browser shortcuts can add up to a lot of time saved during the working day. Use CTRL+T to open a new blank tab, CTRL+TAB to move between tabs (CTRL+SHIFT+TAB to go backwards), and CTRL+W to close the current tab. Press F6 at any time to focus the address bar for entering a URL or searching. For basic navigation, ALT+LEFT will go back (ALT+RIGHT for forwards), whilst CTRL+R will reload the current page – alternatively SHIFT+F5 will perform a ‘hard refresh’ that clears the browser cache, which can often be useful when testing.

If a website’s text is small and hard to read CTRL/+ will zoom in to help make things more readable (CTRL/- to zoom back out). F11 will give you a full screen view. Use CTRL+F to find a specific word in the page – especially useful if the site does not have a built in search. If you’ve ever mistyped a form field and are now forever haunted by your typo as an ‘autocomplete’ suggestion, SHIFT+DELETE will remove entries from the autocomplete dropdown.

Finally, this last one is a game changer if you don’t already know it. CTRL+SHIFT+T will restore closed browser tabs – in Chrome this should even work if you have accidentally closed the browser with multiple tabs open and then wish to return it to its previous state.

Text editing

There are a range of keyboard shortcuts that work across commonly used programs such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. We probably all know CTRL+X, CTRL+C and CTRL+V for cut, copy and paste – but try  CTRL+ALT+V for the option to paste text ‘unformatted’ and so avoid needing to copy it in and out of Notepad. CTRL+A will select all, CTRL+B/CTRL+I/CTRL+U will bold, italicise and underline selected text respectively, whilst CTRL+Backspace will delete an entire word rather than a letter at a time. Use CTRL+S to quickly save your work. As in browser context, CTRL+F will find, but there is also its invaluable partner CTRL+H to find/replace.

Especially useful across all applications are CTRL+Z to Undo and CTRL+Y to Redo – these will often work even when an ‘Undo’ option is not visible or offered elsewhere. Interestingly these also work in Desktop context for some actions, allowing you to instantly undo file renames and deletions.

And finally…

We hope you’ve found these tips useful and maybe learnt a handful of new tricks to help make your working day more enjoyable and productive. If none of the above have turned your world upside down, CTRL+ALT+DOWN should make you see things differently (…follow with CTRL+ALT+UP). We most definitely would not suggest using that on co-workers who have gone to lunch but forgotten to hit WINDOWS+L