Navigating through your personal computer can sometimes feel like a labyrinth. There’s an abundance of files, apps, and settings to manage. However, the secret to efficiently managing your PC lies in mastering keyboard shortcuts. The recent Windows 11 update has introduced new shortcut keys that can significantly improve your productivity.
This article covers the essential Windows 11 shortcut keys, tips for increasing your productivity with Windows 11 Home, how to use the file explorer in Windows 11 effectively, and the productive apps in Windows 11 that you must explore.
Importance of Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 11
Keyboard shortcuts are essential tools for maximizing efficiency and productivity. They allow users to perform tasks more quickly and easily compared to using the mouse. Also, keyboard shortcuts can execute functions that would typically take a few steps with just one or two key presses.
Windows 11, the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system, brings in a wealth of new features. Among these, many have been designed with productivity in mind. As such, the new shortcut keys in Windows 11 play a critical role in accessing these features instantly.
The Power of Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are versatile tools, enabling actions from simple tasks like copying text to taking screenshots, launching notifications, and much more. Enhancements like Windows 11 version 22H2 even introduce new functions complete with their respective keyboard shortcuts. Here are some invaluable shortcuts you must familiarize yourself with.
Making the Most of the Windows Key
You may be familiar with the Windows key’s function to open the Start menu, but it also has many other functions when combined with other keys. Some significant functions are:
|Windows + A||Triggers the Quick Settings control for managing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, and more. Adjust screen brightness and volume as well.|
|Windows + C||Initiates the Microsoft Teams Chat interface for viewing recent messages and starting meetings and calls.|
|Windows + D||Displays or hides your desktop, removing or restoring visibility of apps.|
|Windows + E||Launches File Explorer.|
|Windows + F||Opens the Feedback Hub and takes a screenshot, facilitating the feedback process to Microsoft about potential issues.|
|Windows + G||Activates the Xbox Game Bar, allowing video recording, screenshot capturing, and game feature access.|
|Windows + Alt + B||Toggles HDR on or off, requires an HDR-compatible monitor and a recent Xbox Game Bar app.|
|Windows + Alt + R||Initiates recording of app or game using the Xbox Game Bar.|
|Windows + H||Initiates voice typing for text dictation.|
|Windows + I||Opens the Settings app.|
|Windows + Pause||Displays the About page in Settings, including computer hardware and Windows details.|
|Windows + K||Activates the Cast panel for connecting to wireless displays supporting Miracast.|
|Windows + Alt + K||Mutes the microphone in apps that support Call Mute like Teams, Unigram, etc.|
|Windows + L||Locks your PC, keeping all your apps open while requiring PC unlock for usage.|
|Windows + M||Minimizes all your windows.|
|Windows + Shift + M||Restores minimized windows, works if still on the desktop.|
|Windows + N||Displays notification center and calendar.|
|Windows + O||Locks device orientation, preventing display rotation on tablets and convertibles.|
|Windows + P||Changes display mode for multiple monitors.|
|Windows + Q||Launches Quick Assist for remote user assistance over the internet.|
|Windows + R||Opens the Run dialog for launching any app knowing the executable file’s name.|
|Windows + S||Activates Windows Search for files, apps, and web search.|
|Windows + Shift + S||Triggers screenshot using Snipping Tool, provides capture mode options.|
|Windows + U||Opens the Accessibility Settings page.|
|Windows + Ctrl + C||Toggles color filters on or off, changes color display accounting for color blindness.|
|Windows + V||Shows clipboard history, displaying multiple copied items.|
|Windows + W||Opens the Widgets panel with widgets for weather, OneDrive photos, calendar, etc.|
|Windows + X||Activates the Quick Link menu (same as right-clicking Start icon on the taskbar)|
|Windows + Y||Switches input between Windows Mixed Reality and the desktop (Windows Mixed Reality devices only).|
|Windows + Z||Opens snap layouts panel for better multi-app view on your screen.|
|Windows + . or ;||Triggers the emoji panel for text fields.|
|Windows + ,||Peeks at the desktop, windows are restored after releasing keys.|
|Windows + Ctrl + F||Searches for PCs on your network (intended for Azure Active Directory domains).|
|Windows + Spacebar||Cycles between languages and input methods (if multiple are installed).|
|Windows + Shift + Spacebar||Cycles backwards through the list.|
|Windows + Ctrl + Spacebar||Switches to the last used input method.|
|Ctrl + Shift||Switches to a different keyboard layout if multiple are available (for the same language).|
|Ctrl + Spacebar||Toggles the Chinese IME on or off (if the Chinese language is installed).|
|Windows + Ctrl + Enter||Activates Narrator for easier navigation for those with vision impairments.|
|Windows + + (plus)||Activates the Magnifier and zooms into the screen.|
|Windows + – (minus)||Zooms out with the Magnifier.|
|Windows + Esc||Closes the Magnifier.|
|Windows + / (forward slash)||Starts IME reconversion.|
|Windows + Ctrl + Shift + B||Awakens your PC from a blank or black screen.|
|Windows + PrtScn||Takes a full-screen screenshot and automatically saves it to a file.|
|Windows + Alt + PrtScn||Takes a screenshot of the active game or window and saves it into a file.|
|PrtScn||Takes a full-screen screenshot and copies it to the clipboard.|
|Ctrl + Esc||Opens the Start menu.|
|Ctrl + Shift + Esc||Opens the Task Manager.|
Productivity-Boosting Shortcuts for Multitasking and Window Management
Juggling multiple apps and managing open windows efficiently is a breeze with these keyboard shortcuts:
|Windows + Tab||Opens Task View, showing all open apps as tiles for easy selection, including virtual desktops.|
|Alt + Tab||Switches to the last active window. Repeated Tab presses while holding Alt enable window selection.|
|Alt + Esc||Cycles through windows in their opening order.|
|Ctrl + Alt + Tab||Displays all open apps for selection using keyboard arrows. Similar to Task View but without virtual desktops and restricted to current active monitor.|
|Alt + F4||Closes the active window or app. On the desktop, opens the Windows power menu.|
|Windows + Up arrow||Maximizes the active window to fit the entire desktop.|
|Windows + Alt + Up arrow||Snaps the active window to the top half of the monitor. A new shortcut in Windows 11, prompting an app choice for bottom half snapping.|
|Windows + Down arrow||Minimizes an active maximized window, or hides a non-maximized window into the taskbar.|
|Windows + Alt + Down arrow||Snaps the active window to the bottom half of the screen, potentially prompting an app choice for the top half.|
|Windows + Left arrow||Snaps the active window to the left half of the screen.|
|Windows + Right arrow||Snaps the active window to the right half of the screen.|
|Windows + Home||Minimizes all windows except the active one, press again to restore minimized windows.|
|Windows + Shift + Up arrow||Stretches the active non-maximized window vertically while maintaining the same width. Use Down arrow to reverse this effect.|
|Windows + Shift + Right arrow or Left arrow||Moves the active window to a different monitor.|
|Windows + Ctrl + D||Creates a new virtual desktop.|
|Windows + Ctrl + Left arrow or Right arrow||Switches between virtual desktops to the left or right.|
|Windows + Ctrl + F4||Closes the current virtual desktop, moving open apps to the next virtual desktop in line.|
Fast-Tracking Taskbar Operations with Keyboard Shortcuts
The taskbar is an essential component of Windows 11, and keyboard shortcuts make its use even more efficient. Some important combinations include:
|Windows + T||Cycles through apps on the taskbar (open or pinned).|
|Windows + (number)||Launches or switches to the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.|
|Windows + Shift + (number)||Launches a new instance of the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number, regardless of if one is already open.|
|Windows + Ctrl + (number)||Switches to the last active window of the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.|
|Windows + Alt + (number)||Opens the Jump List for the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.|
|Windows + Ctrl + Shift + (number)||Opens a new instance of the app located at the given position on the taskbar as an administrator.|
|Shift + left mouse click||It open a new instance of the selected app.|
|Ctrl + Shift + left mouse click||Opens the selected app as an administrator.|
|Shift + right mouse click||It opens the window menu for the selected app.|
|Ctrl + left mouse click (on an app with multiple windows open)||Cycles through the open windows for the app.|
|Windows + B||Sets focus to the first icon in the taskbar corner. If no apps are displaying an icon, focus is set to the overflow menu icon.|
Advantages of Windows 11 Shortcut Keys
- Speed: Keyboard shortcuts provide quick access to functions and commands, saving you valuable time.
- Efficiency: Using the Keyboard shortcuts you can perform tasks more effectively in compares of using the mouse.
- Productivity: By improving speed and efficiency, keyboard shortcuts ultimately boost productivity.
Best Practices for Using Windows 11 Shortcut Keys
As mentioned before, start by learning the most commonly used shortcut keys and gradually expand your knowledge to less frequently used but potentially helpful shortcuts.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the shortcut keys, try to use them in your daily tasks to build muscle memory. The more you use them, the more naturally they will come to you.
Some software allows you to customize shortcut keys to better suit your workflow. Take advantage of this to make your work even more efficient.
Keep a Cheat Sheet:
It may be helpful to have a cheat sheet or list of shortcut keys nearby as you’re learning them. You can even set this as your desktop wallpaper for easy reference.
Balance Between Mouse and Keyboard:
While keyboard shortcuts can greatly enhance your productivity, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your mouse. Find a balance between mouse usage and keyboard shortcuts that works best for you.
Learn App-Specific Shortcuts:
Many applications have their own set of keyboard shortcuts. Learning these can significantly increase your efficiency when using these applications.
Wrapping things up, keyboard shortcuts are an indispensable tool with the capacity to noticeably boost your productivity in Windows 11. They act as a time-saving mechanism by reducing the number of steps required to execute commands, and they pave the way for a smoother workflow by allowing you to keep your hands rooted to the keyboard. It’s true that a certain learning curve exists when it comes to using keyboard shortcuts effectively, however, the benefits are undoubtedly worth the initial investment. Begin by learning and mastering the most frequently used shortcuts and then, gradually, broaden your understanding to include less frequently used, but nonetheless useful, shortcuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I customize my own keyboard shortcuts in Windows 11?
A: Although Windows 11 doesn’t support the customization of system-level keyboard shortcuts, many software applications do offer this option. To explore this, you should check the settings or preferences of your most frequently used applications.
Q2: What if I forget a keyboard shortcut in Windows 11?
A: Forgetting keyboard shortcuts is completely natural. As we recommended, it can be helpful to keep a cheat sheet within reach until they’re firmly embedded in your memory. With consistent usage, these shortcuts will soon become instinctive.
Q3: I’m left-handed. Are there specific keyboard shortcuts that could be more convenient for me?
A: Keyboard shortcuts generally don’t favour right-handed over left-handed users. That being said, if you find certain combinations uncomfortable, you might want to look into using a left-handed keyboard or software that permits customization of keyboard shortcuts.
Q4: Do all software applications support keyboard shortcuts?
A: While most software applications are compatible with keyboard shortcuts, the degree of compatibility varies. To find out more about their specific supported keyboard shortcuts, consult the documentation or help files of the applications you regularly use.
Q5: Are keyboard shortcuts the same for all versions of Windows?
A: While many keyboard shortcuts are consistent across different versions of Windows, each new iteration typically introduces additional shortcuts. For instance, Windows 11 has introduced new keyboard shortcuts for features such as Widgets and Snap layouts, which are absent in older versions.
Q6: Is there a risk of accidentally triggering system commands when typing?
A: Keyboard shortcuts typically require a combination of keys unlikely to be pressed accidentally during regular typing, so the risk is minimal. In the rare case that you do trigger a command, it can usually be undone by pressing “Ctrl+Z” or by closing the unintentionally opened feature.
Visit our YouTube channel to learn step-by-step video tutorials
Click here to download the PDF file for these shortcut Keys: