To Mouse or not to Mouse: That is the Question, Part 1

December 21, 2017 | Views: 1747

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Click-click, click… click… click… click….

The sound most mice make “click”. In this article, I would like to show you how in Windows to minimize the number of mouse clicks using your keyboard. Many users don’t know how to navigate with just a keyboard. This article will focus on the “Windows” key.  The windows key is really a powerful tool to help keep your hands on the keyboard, without moving to the mouse. Only knowing how to navigate the Graphical User Interface (GUI) with either a touchpad or a wired mouse can be limiting. I’ve interviewed techs that use Ubuntu and ONLY understand the GUI they didn’t know anything about terminal or windows commands. One of them during the skills test for the interview was asked only using the keyboard to open specific windows, he literally was pressing every single key on the keyboard as if there is a macro setup. Occasionally when I’m in the field talking to clients previous techs they had out couldn’t even work on the system because the mouse wasn’t working for one reason or another. 

Let’s start and look at some commands! 

Windows 7

  •  Win + Space bar activates Aero Peek. Reassigned in Windows 8.
  •  Win + P toggles between the devices that receive video card’s output. The default is computer monitor only. Other options are video projector only, both showing the same image and both showing a portion of a larger desktop.
  •  Win + ↑ maximizes the active window.
  •  Win + ↓ restores the default window size and state of the active window, if maximized. Otherwise, minimizes the active window.
  •  Win + ← or → to align the window to the corresponding side of the screen, tiled vertically.
  •  Win + Shift + ← or → to move the window to the next or previous monitor, if multiple monitors are used
  •  Win + T to iterate through items on the taskbar from left to right.
  •  Win + Shift + T to iterate through items on the taskbar from right to left.
  •  Win + + or Win to zoom into the screen at the mouse cursor position using the Magnifier Utility.
  •  Win + – to zoom out if the Magnifier Utility is running.
  •  Win + Esc to exit zoom.
  •  Win + 1 through Win + 9, Win + 0 to either start or switch to the corresponding program pinned to taskbar.  Win + 0 runs the tenth item. Press multiple times to cycle through the application’s open windows. Press and release quickly to keep the taskbar’s preview open (which allows you to cycle using arrow keys).
  •  Win + Home minimizes/restores all windows other than the active window.
  •  Win + D minimizes/restores all windows.
  •  Win + L Locks the computer screen.

Windows 8

  • Windows 8 introduces the following:
  • Win + C opens the charms.
  •  Win + F opens Search charm in file mode to search for computer files. If the Search charm is already open, switches to file search mode.
  •  Win + W opens Search charm in settings mode to search for Control Panel applets. If the Search charm is already open, switches to settings search mode.
  •  Win + Q opens Search charm in app mode to search for app shortcuts and executable files. If the search charm is already open, it has no effects.
  •  Win + H opens the Share charm.
  •  Win + K opens the Devices charm for printing, connecting to a second screen/projector, or pushing multimedia content via Play To.
  •  Win + I opens Settings charm, where app-specific settings, network options, and shutdown button is located.
  •  Win + X opens Quick Links menu and grants access to several frequently used features of Windows, such as accessing desktop or File Explorer. With Windows 8.1 update, it includes a shortcut to shut down or restart the computer.
  •  Win + Z or right click opens the command bar for Metro-style apps. This bar appears at the bottom of the screen and replaces both context menu and toolbar in Metro-style apps.
  •  Win + Tab invokes the app switcher and changes between Metro-style apps. Unlike Alt + Tab , the app switcher does not include windows that appear on desktop.
  •  Win + Space bar changes input method. Unlike Alt+ Shift, this combination also causes a pop-up notification to appear.
  •  Win + PrtScr or Win + Volume up instantly saves a screenshot to the “Screenshots” folder in “Pictures” library. All screenshots are saved as PNG files.

Windows 8.1 

  • Win + O locks device orientation
  •  Win + S activates the Search Everywhere charm, opening a sidebar at the side of the screen.
  •  Win + U activates the Ease of Access Center control panel applet
  •  Win + V cycles through notifications

Windows 10

  • Win + A opens Action Center.
  •  Win + V or Win + ⇧ Shift + V cycles through notifications.
  •  Win + C activates Cortana listening mode.
  •  Win + G opens the Game DVR bar when a game is open.
  •  Win + Alt + R starts or stops recording. All recordings are saved in the “Captures” folder in the “Videos” library as an MP4 file.
  •  Win + Alt + G records the last 30 seconds when background recording is turned on for the game.
  •  Win + Alt + T shows or hides the recording timer.
  •  Win + Alt + PrtScr instantly saves a screenshot to the “Captures” folder in the “Videos” library. All screenshots are saved as PNG files.
  •  Win + I opens Settings.
  •  Win + F opens the Feedback Hub.
  •  Win + Tab ↹ opens task view.
  •  Win + ↑ + ← through Win + ↓ + ← to align a window snapped to the right or left to the corresponding quadrant of the screen.
  •  Win + Ctrl + D creates a new virtual desktop.
  •  Win + Ctrl + F4 closes the active virtual desktop.
  •  Win + Ctrl + ← or → switches between virtual desktops.

Microsoft Office

  • Additional installed software may introduce other shortcuts using the Windows key. For example, various Microsoft Office applications add shortcuts of their own:
  •  Win + S to take a screenshot for OneNote; conflicts with Win + ⇧ Shift + S on Windows 8.1.
  •  Win + N to open a new side note in OneNote.
  •  Win + ⇧ Shift + N to open OneNote.   

In my next article, we will look at fun things to do with the Run Command (Win+ ‘R’).


“We are Samurai… the Keyboard Cowboys” – The Plague (“Hackers” film 1995)

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  1. This just made my whole world easier. Some of the EIN10 shortcuts don’t work at work but the new virtual desktop command makes everything easier to keep track of.

  2. I thought I knew just about all the shortcuts, but there were some new ones for me. Thanks! The virtual desktops might come in useful.
    For the Win + Alt + R you might mention that it records the active window, not the full desktop.

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