How to Use Keyboard Combinations in Windows

using wireless keyboard

How to Use Keyboard Combinations in Windows

Keyboard combinations, also known as keyboard shortcuts, involve using two or more keys to execute programs in an operating system. These keys are either pressed together or one after another. 

If you are not new to computers, you are probably familiar with keyboard combinations such as Ctrl+C or Ctrl+V. However, there are so many more keyboard combinations that you can use to perform operations on your computer. If you are familiar with each of these combinations, then you may never need to use your mouse. 

No sooner will you read on to refresh your memory on familiar keyboard combinations, then you will learn new ones that you can use to increase productivity on your Windows computer. 

3 Benefits of Using Keyboard Combinations

Increased Efficiency

Certainly using keyboard shortcuts makes you more efficient than when using a mouse. For instance, when you select an entire document, you will need to left-click and drag through the document using a mouse. However, with the keyboard shortcut, you only use Ctrl+A. This saves you a lot of time. 

Reduce Chances of Health Issues

Constantly alternating between a mouse and a keyboard increases the chances of R.S.I (Repetitive Syndrome Injury). With keyboard shortcuts, you reduce how often you use the mouse, minimizing risks of R.S.I. Moreover, you minimize fatigue on your fingers and wrist. 


It is easier to be precise when using keyboard shortcuts than when using a mouse. Say you want to select a sentence or a word in a paragraph. You can use Ctrl + arrow keys to select what you need accurately. 

Keyboard Combinations

Presently the amount of time you save using keyboard combinations instead of a mouse can seem insignificant. However, add up the few seconds over weeks and months, and you will realize that you need these shortcuts. Here are the keyboard combinations that you should strive to memorize:

#1. General Keyboard Combinations

General keyboard combinations are the common shortcuts you have most likely used in your typing. These combinations are universal, meaning you can use them in various programs to perform similar functions. For instance, the combination Ctrl+C is used to copy across all computer programs

Below are the general keyboard combinations and the functions they execute: 

Combinations That Use Alt

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The alt key is found at the bottom row of a keyboard.

The alt key, which is short for alternate, is found at the bottom row of a keyboard. It is used with other two or three keys to perform a function. These combinations include:

Keyboard combinationAction 
Alt+F4Close or exit active app 
Alt+EscSwitch between different windows in the order they were opened 
Alt+Enter Show properties of a selected item 
Alt+Space bar Open the menu of an active window
Alt+Left arrowGo back
Alt+right arrowGo forward 
Alt+Page up Move up one screen 
Alt+Page down Move down one screen 
Alt+TabGo to the next open app 
Alt+E Open edit menu
Alt+V Open view menu 
Alt+FOpen file menu 

Whenever working on Microsoft Word, pressing the alt key alone highlights all menus in the application using numbers and letters. You can press the letter or number of the menu you want to open. 

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While in Microsoft Word, the alt key will highlight all menus.

Combinations That Use CTRL

The control key is found at the bottom left and right portion of the keyboard. Here are the keyboard shortcuts that use control. 

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The control (ctrl) key can be found at the bottom left and right of the keyboard.
Keyboard combination Action 
Ctrl + 0Get back the default zoom
Ctrl + ASelect all text 
Ctrl + CCopy a selected item 
Ctrl + D or Ctrl + Delete Delete a selected item 
Ctrl + RRefresh an active window
Ctrl + VPaste a selected item 
Ctrl + XCut a selected item 
Ctrl+ RRedo an action
Ctrl + ZUndo an action 
Ctrl+ PPrint 
Ctrl + +Zoom in 
Ctrl + –Zoom out 
Ctrl + Right ArrowMove cursor to the beginning of the next word 
Ctrl + Left ArrowMove cursor to the beginning of the last word
Ctrl + Up ArrowMove cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph 
Ctrl + Down ArrowMove cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph
Ctrl + Alt +TabSwitch between open tabs 
Ctrl + Arrow+ Spacebar Select multiple individual items
Ctrl + Shift + ArrowSelect a paragraph of text 
Ctrl + EscOpen the start menu 
Ctrl + Shift Switch the keyboard layout when various layouts are open 
Ctrl + spacebar Turn the Chinese input editor on or off 

We recommend this YouTube video that walks through some of the most popular Windows keyboard shortcuts, most of which are discussed throughout this article.

Shift Key Combinations

The shift key is often found above the control key. At times, the shift key is shown using an arrow facing upwards. In most keyboards, there are two shift keys. Keyboard combinations that use this key include:

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The shift key is normally found above the control key.
Keyboard combinationAction 
Shift + Delete Delete file without sending it to recycle bin 
Shift + Tab Move back to the previous object 
Shift + ArrowSelect text 
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open task manager 
Press Shift key 5 times Activate sticky keys 
Press left Shift + Alt + Num lockOpens mouse keys 
Left Shift + Alt + Print Screen Open high contrast 

Windows Key Combinations

The Windows key is found between the left alt and control keys and has a Windows logo. If you press it, you open the start menu. If you press it together with other keys, then it triggers a shortcut. Here are the shortcuts you can perform using the Windows key. 

We shall use Win to mean Windows key.

Keyboard combinationAction 
Win + F1Open Windows help and support 
Win + BOpen the notification area 
Win + C Open Cortana
Win + DShow or hide the desktop 
Win + EOpen file explorer 
Win + F Open search or search for a folder 
Win + HOpen voice typing menu 
Win + I Open setting menu 
Win + KOpen the connect sidebar 
Win + LLock the computer 
Win + MMinimize all windows
Win + OLock the screen orientation 
Win + PChoose display mode 
Win + QOpen the search bar 
Win + ROpen run dialogue box 
Win + SOpen the search bar 
Win + TView apps at the taskbar 
Win + UOpen ease of access center 
Win + VOpen clipboard history 
Win + WOpen start menu 
Win + XOpen quick link menu 
Win + ZShow commands available in an app
Win + ,Temporarily view the desktop 
Win + Pause Show the system properties 
Win + Ctrl+ FFind computers on a network 
Win + Shift + MRestore minimized windows
Win+ number 1-9Open or switch to the app pinned to the taskbar number you pressed 
Win + Shift + number 1-9Open the last active window of the app in the position of the number you pressed 
Win + Alt + number 1-9Open the jump list of the app pinned to the taskbar position of the number you clicked 
Win + Ctrl+ Shift + number 1-9Open a new instance of the app loathed at a given position on the taskbar as administrator
Win + Tab Switch between open tabs 
Win + Ctrl + BOpen the app that displayed a message in the notification area 
Win + Up ArrowMaximize the window
Win + Down ArrowMinimize current window
Window + Left ArrowMaximize the app to the left side of the screen
Win + Right ArrowMaximize the app to the right side of the screen 
Win + Home  Minimize or restore all active desktop windows
Win + Shift + Up ArrowStretch the desktop to the top and bottom of the screen 
Win + shift + Down ArrowMinimize or restore active desktop windows vertically 
Win + Shift + Left Arrow or Right ArrowMove an app from one monitor to another 
Win + Space Bar Switch input language and keyboard layout 
Win + Enter Open narrator 
Win + Period (.)Open emoji keyboard 
Win + + or –Zoom in or out 

#2. Browser Keyboard Combinations

These are keyboard shortcuts that you can use in browsers such as Chrome. They include:

Keyboard shortcut Action 
Ctrl + number 1-8Switch to the number of the number you entered 
Ctrl + 9Switch to the last tab
Ctrl + TabSwitch to the next tab 
Ctrl + Shift + TabSwitch to the previous tab 
Ctrl + F4 or Ctrl + WClose the tab 
Ctrl + Shift + TReopen a previously closed tab
Ctrl + TOpen a new tab
Alt + F4Close the current window
Ctrl + DAdd bookmark for current page 
Ctrl + ESelect the search bar 
Ctrl + RRefresh or reload a web page 
Ctrl + NOpen a new window
Ctrl + + or –Zoom in or zoom out 
Ctrl + shift + NOpen a new tab in the incognito mode 

#3. Text Editing and Formatting Keyboard Combination

These are shortcuts that you use when editing or formatting texts. They apply to text editing and formatting programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Keyboard combination Action 
Ctrl + delete Delete text to the right of the cursor 
Ctrl + Home Go to the beginning of the document 
Ctrl + End Go to the end of a document 
Ctrl + left arrowGo to the beginning of the previous word 
Ctrl + right arrowGo to the beginning of the next word 
Ctrl + up arrowGo to the previous paragraph 
Ctrl + down arrowGo to the next paragraph
Ctrl + FFind 
Ctrl + HFind and replace 
Ctrl + BBold
Ctrl + IItalicize 
Ctrl + UUnderline 
Ctrl + Shift + AWrite in upper or lower case 
Ctrl + =subscript
Ctrl + shift + =Superscript 
Ctrl + shift + >Make selected text larger 
Ctrl + shift + <Make selected text smaller 
Ctrl + shift + LAdd bullets to selected text 
Ctrl + enter Insert line break 

Shortcut Keys for Special Characters

Special characters are characters that are not alphabetic or numeric. To insert these characters, first, you press and hold Alt while inserting the special code, and then it will automatically insert where the cursor is. Unfortunately, this action requires you to use the numeral keys and not the other keyboard keys. 

The keyboard combination used for these special characters are:

Keyboard combinationSpecial character 
Alt + 0224à
Alt + 0232è
Alt +0236ì
Alt + 0242ò
Alt + 0241ñ
Alt +0228ä
Alt +0246ö
Alt + 0252ü
Alt + 0248ø
Alt + 0223ß
Alt + 0198Æ
Alt +0191¿
Alt + 0231ç
Alt + 0176° (degree symbol)
Alt +0177±
Alt + 0153
Alt + 0169©
Alt + 0174®
Alt + 0128
Alt + 0162¢
Alt + 0163£
Alt + 0165¥

How to Create Shortcuts

You can spare time opening apps, especially those you regularly use, by creating keyboard shortcuts for them. These shortcuts are called custom shortcuts.

Here is how you create the shortcut:

Step 1: First, open the command prompt 

Type command prompt on the search bar to get the command prompt. Then right-click on the app and select run as administrator.

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Right-click on the app and select run as administrator.

Step 2: Type explorer shell:AppsFolder on the command prompt

You can copy-paste the command as it is written here. This opens a list of all your apps. 

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Type explorer shell:AppsFolder on the command prompt.
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Right click on the app you want to create a shortcut for.

Step 3: Right-click on the app that you want to create a shortcut and select create a shortcut 

You can change the view-setting to “detailed list” so it is easier to see all apps.

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Once you right click, choose “Create shortcut.”

Step 4: Click yes on the icon that prompts 

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Choose yes when prompted.

Step 5: Next, right click on the new icon that is on the desktop and select properties

Properties usually appears toward the bottom of the list. 

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Right click and choose properties.

Step 6: Enter a key combination

On the shortcut key field, enter any letter that you would like to use for this shortcut. This automatically adds Ctrl+Alt in front of the key you selected. 

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In the shortcut key box, add a letter to create your special shortcut.

Step 7: Finally, click ok to save the shortcut 


Although they say a shortcut is often a long cut, this doesn’t apply to keyboard shortcuts. These combinations are heaven-sent to make typing faster and more efficient. Strive to memorize as many shortcuts as possible, create more custom shortcuts for the apps you may often use, and enjoy a better keyboard experience.

Up Next 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there two keyboard control, shift and Alt keys?

Keyboards have two Control, Shift, and Alt keys to enable easy typing. Since these keys are often used in conjunction with another key, you can use the Control, Shift, or Alt close to the other key you want. For instance, if you want to select text using Ctrl + A, you use the left Ctrl, and if you use to print using Ctrl + P, you use the right Ctrl.

Is there a keyboard combination used to switch off the computer?

The keyboard combination for turning off your computer is Ctrl + Alt + Del. After using these keys to open a dialogue box, use the arrow keys to go down to the option you want and use enter to select it.

Is it worth learning keyboard shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts are worth learning, especially if you are a frequent computer user. You lose two seconds every time you stop using your keyboard to use the mouse. Therefore, if you learn keyboard shortcuts, you will save a lot of time overall.

How can you learn keyboard shortcuts fast?

To learn keyboard shortcuts, start with the basics and use them several times in a context. You can also use third-party apps to prompt you to use keyboard shortcuts and show you the keyboard shortcut you should use.

How can you type special characters if you don’t have a numerical keypad?

If you don’t have a numerical keypad, it is impossible to use keyboard combinations for special characters. In this case, you will have to insert the special character manually.

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