Some Handy Windows shortcut keys…

I like the Windows GUI, and particularly since I’m use to it, the Vista UI. I don’t think I follow a particularly usual pattern, though, because I tend to make use of lots of keyboard shortcuts which many people may not know, or may know about somewhere in the back of their mind but never bother to use them.

Some examples:

ALT-TAB – cycles through open windows – everyone probably knows that. Yet, I still often see people manually minimising windows to get to the document behind … and wonder “what’s the point of a multi-window, multi-tasking OS if you only ever think about the one at the front?” On a similar vein, SHIFT-ALT-TAB goes back through the list of windows that ALT-TAB does, so if you over-shoot the window/document you’re looking for, it’s quick to go back one.

CTRL-SHIFT-ESC – not that obvious a combination maybe, but they’re at least all down one side of the keyboard so can be quickly activated. Brings the Windows Task Manager up, and a good bit quicker than right-clicking on the task bar, or pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and getting it from there.

And then there’s the “Windows” key on most keyboards…

  • WND-D “restores” the desktop; ie minimises everything and gives you direct access to the desktop. Annoyingly on Vista, this also minimises the Sidebar …
  • … although WIND-SPACE brings just the sidebar to the fore again, withough making it Always on Top.
  • WND-R is equivalent to the Start->Run command, so it’s only one less keystroke but saves fractions of a second in screen painting time, which always seems like a better way to do it.

There are many other WND-combinations which I don’t really use (like WND-E for Explorer/My Computer).

And finally (for now), one I found out purely by accident by hitting more keys than I wanted on my laptop… WND-Break. Opens the “System Properties” dialog which would normally be on (My) Computer -> Properties from the start menu.

I’ll follow up another time with some other handy commands which can save a bit of time (especially when run from WND-R :))…

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