Be More Productive with Easy Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’re using a laptop, you may want a quicker way to get things done. Luckily, both Windows and Macs have a huge list of keyboard shortcuts. In this post, we’ll go over Windows keyboard shortcuts. Stay tuned for a Mac edition!


On a Windows computer, most shortcuts involve a combination of keys which often include the Windows key, CTRL, and ALT.

picture of Windows keyboard with the control key, Windows key and alt keys highlighted.

With keyboard shortcuts, press multiple keys on the keyboard at the same time to preform actions.

Control Keys

CTRL + C = Copy. First, highlight a word, block of text, or click on an object. Next, hit CTRL+ C. Copy adds the object to the clipboard so it can be inserted (pasted) later.

CTRL + V = Paste. Paste inserts the copied text or object to the current place in the document or into a new file explorer location. Go to the area where you want to insert the copied or cut text or object. Next, hit CTRL+V to paste the copied text or object.

CTRL + X = Cut. Highlight a word or block of text in an editable document such as a Word document, Google Sheets or Excel Spreadsheet. Using Control + X will delete the selected text and add it to the clipboard. When you are ready to paste it, use CTRL+V or other methods for pasting.

CTRL + F = Find. To find a particular word or phrase in a document or on a webpage, hit CTRL+F to open up a search box. If the word or phrase is found, the document will advanced to the first instance of the word or phrase. Depending on what program you’re using, the word or phrase may be highlighted as well.

Copy, cut, and paste can all be used in File Explorer as well. To duplicate or move files around, click on the file and use any of the keyboard shortcuts.

CTRL + Z = Undo. Made a mistake? CTRL + Z undoes whatever action was last performed.

CTRL + Y = Redo. Hit CTRL+Z by mistake? CTRL+Y redoes what was undone.

Windows and Alt Keys

ALT + TAB = Switch between the current open window to the most recently accessed window. Quickly hitting ALT+TAB will automatically go to the most recent window accessed. To access a different window, hit ALT+TAB, hold down ALT and then tap TAB to choose a particular window.

ALT + Windows Key = See all the current open programs on one screen. This is also a way to easily create separate desktops. For more info on separate desktops, check out this helpful article from Microsoft.

screenshot of what happens when you hit ALT+Windows. Picture shows the desktop background and mini views of the two open windows.

Windows key + L = Lock your PC. This will show the screen seen when you first log on to the computer. If you use a password to get on to your computer, you will need to re-enter your password to access your computer after hitting Windows + L.

Windows key + D = Show or hide the desktop. If you have any Windows open, this will minimize them all and show your desktop. If you are viewing the desktop, hitting CTRL+D will switch to the most recently used window.

Function Keys

If your keyboard has a row of Function Keys (F1, F2, etc), there are also some helpful shortcuts using those keys.

F2 = Rename a file or folder in Windows Explorer. Select the file you want to rename, and then hit F2. You can quickly rename the file.

F3 = When using web browser (such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge) or Windows File Explorer, quickly pull up a search box to search the web page or for a file or folder.

ALT + F4 = Close the current window.

Those are just a sample of the many, many keyboard shortcuts available. To see a complete list, check out this helpful article from Microsoft.

Learn How To Set Your Favorite Colors As Defaults

If you’ve ever worked with templates in Microsoft or Google software, you may have been less than pleased with the automatic color choices made by the software. Sure, you can change these colors while editing, but if you want to use them all the time, changing the colors for each document, spreadsheet, or presentation you start could get old very fast. Thankfully, most of the applications offered by Microsoft and Google have a method for saving your favorite colors to a default theme.

The good folks at Tech-Talk have already written a great article with a video outlining the process for setting default colors on both platforms, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. When setting default colors, keep in mind that it needs to be set up in each application separately. For example, a theme set in Microsoft Word does not carry over to Microsoft PowerPower. I should note, however, if you are only interested in setting a color theme for Google Docs, the option is not currently available in that app.

Windows 11: What You Need to Know

If you have a new Windows computer, it probably came with Windows 11. If you have a newer Windows 10 computer, Windows Update is probably nagging you to upgrade to Windows 11 as soon as possible. The truth is, the Windows 11 interface is significantly different from previous versions, and the new operating system is not without its growing pains. Many Windows 10 users are staying on that version as long as they can. Eventually, though, change is inevitable.

The folks at Tech-Talk have been busy creating articles and webinars to help you make the switch to Windows 11, and the East Greenbush Community Library provides access to Tech-Talk for its patrons.

If you’re currently using Windows 10 and considering an upgrade, check out this video and article about what to do before you update from 10 to 11.

If you’d like a guide to the new interface, this video and article about the new look may be helpful.

They have also created a full webinar with a printable reference guide, which is the most complete resource on Windows 11 that Tech-Talk offers.

Tech-Talk has lots of tips and tricks about Windows in general, not just Windows 11. Check out this list of resources related to Windows.

Still have questions that Tech-Talk hasn’t answered? You can leave them in the comments for us to answer or you can ask Tech-Talk for more information using their “ask a question” form.