Work More Efficiently in Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts

Since the first Macintosh hit the street in 1984, the PC experience has been about point-and-click interaction with a graphical user interface. There are times, however, where stopping what you're doing to use the mouse to perform simple tasks actually interrupts productivity and slows you down. Try using Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts to work more efficiently.

Admittedly, it is much easier to click on the Windows Explorer icon in my task bar and navigate to a folder to click on the file I want rather than having to navigate there using a command line interface. But, there are times where I am furiously typing away on the keyboard crafting some gem of poetic wisdom and removing one of my hands from the keyboard in order to point-and-click with the mouse is counter-productive.

I make the most frequent use of keyboard shortcuts like cut (Ctrl-Z) and paste (Ctrl-V), but there are tons to choose from. Many of them work only in certain contexts, like general keyboard shortcuts, and keyboard shortcuts for the taskbar, and keyboard shortcuts for Windows Explorer. Click to expand the table and see a few of my favorites.

Ctrl+C (or CTrl+Insert)

Copy selected item or text


Cut selected item or text

Ctrl+V (or Shift+Insert)

Paste selected item or text


Permanently delete selected item without moving to Recycle Bin

Ctrl+Shift with arrow key

Select a block of text

Windows Logo Key+Tab

Cycle through open application on the taskbar using Aero Flip 3D


Open Task Manager

The brief list of shortcuts in the accompanying table barely scratches the surface, though. In order to use the keyboard shortcuts, you first need to memorize the keyboard shortcuts. Getting through that initial learning curve may actually be slower than the comparable mouse clicking-and-pointing, but if you invest the effort it will pay dividends forever.

Imagine you are editing a document draft and decide that you want to move a paragraph up to an earlier section of the page. You can do one of the following: A) Stop typing and use the mouse to select the paragraph of text by holding the left mouse button down while dragging across the selected text. Then, right click the selected text and click Cut, followed by placing the mouse pointer where you want the text to go, right-clicking and selecting Paste. Or, B) Hold down Ctrl-Shift and an arrow key to select the paragraph, followed by Ctrl-X to cut it. Then use the arrow keys to move the cursor to where you want the text to go and press Ctrl-V to paste the text.

The second scenario saves a few seconds and enables you to keep your productivity momentum going by never removing your hands from the keyboard or shifting your focus from the task at hand. Microsoft provides a comprehensive lists of Windows keyboard shortcuts you can use to streamline your interaction with Windows.

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