The best Windows shortcuts and tricks

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What are some good Windows tricks? Like shortcuts, etc. — Rob

Rob, I appreciate the brevity of your question. You are man who gets to the point. You have Windows—maybe 7, maybe 8—and you want to press keys on your keyboard to do cool stuff quickly. You compute how you write: no time wasted. Even your name is shortened.

I posed your question to Twitter, and almost every response I got was a joke. But that's OK, because I've collected some good ones anyway. Most were tested on Windows 7.

The Windows key

I used to think of it as a superfluous key—something that I only pressed accidentally—but the Windows key has many wonderful uses. Here are a few shortcuts we like:

Windows + D: Minimize all windows.

Windows + E: Open Explorer to 'Computer.'

Windows + R: Open the 'Run' prompt.

Windows + T: Scroll through taskbar.

Windows + P: Change display configuration.

Windows + Tab: Scrolls through open windows in an awesome 3D way that will make people think you're really cool. If they're the kind of people who think keyboard shortcuts are cool, anyway.

Windows + Arrow keys: Snap your window all over the place.

Windows + [+] or [-]: Activate magnifier. Then hit Ctrl+Alt+I to invert colors. If you want. It looks cool.

Miscellaneous tricks

Designer/programmer Alex Austin sent me this one: hold Shift and right click in a folder to add the option "Open command window here." Useful if you're using command line tools for modding.

Alt + Print Screen: Print Screen throws an image of your desktop onto the clipboard, but this key combination only captures the active window. I use it for grabbing screens of windowed games that don't work with whatever screen capture software I'm using. (Corrected: Thanks commenters!)

Calibrate your screen: Click the Start button, type DCCW into the search and press Enter to give it a go.

Recover frozen programs: This one is from our friends at TechRadar. Click the Start button, type RESMON, and hit Enter. Go to the CPU tab and find the frozen process, right click, and then hit Analyze Wait Chain. The lowest process in the tree is the one stalling your application—assuming it's not vital, end it to recover your frozen window. Save whatever other stuff you have open first, of course, just in case. There's more wisdom like that in TechRadar's Windows 8 and Windows 7 tip articles.

Become a god: God Mode is less exciting than it sounds, but still cool, giving you access to everything in the Control Panel from one folder. Create a new folder and name it:


Replacing 'Whatever' with whatever you want, because whatever.

Shake your windows: Grab a window and shake it back and forth to minimize all other windows.

Those are a few favorites around here, but throw yours into the comments and we can add 'em in.

Update: At the risk of sounding like a children's book series (Even More Wacky One-Liners, the sequel to 500 Krazy Jokes for Kids), here are even more Windows tips, all thanks to the wonderful commenters below, who collectively shamed my shortcut game.

Ctrl+Alt+Tab opens the Ctrl+Tab dialogue but also keeps it open when you release the keys, which lets you navigate with the arrow keys and select a window with Enter. —Mark Hanna

Shift+Right Click on a file will open the "extended" context menu, giving you the option to "copy filepath" and make it a pasteable text (e.g. C:\something\anotherthing\myfile.dat) instead of copying the file. —Ben Morgan

Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new folder. —Andi Sabin

F2 to rename a specific folder or a file. —Proshifter

Shift + Delete bypass the Recycle Bin when deleting files. —BenBen Leech

Alt + Up Arrow goes a level up into folder directory. —SairenSA

Windows Key + Pause/Break... In older Windows versions it takes you right to device manager and in newer versions it gets you to the handy Windows info screen... —carl

Windows key + Up maximizes window. —illage2

Windows key + E opens Explorer. —illage2

Windows key + Shift + Right or Left Arrow moves a window to another monitor. —illage2

Alt + Enter to maximize full screen applications, such as games in windowed mode. —Kevin Saey

Hold Alt while double clicking a file/folder for properties. —Kotahi-Manawa Bradford

Ctrl+Shift+Esc to immediately access the Task Manager and skip the Ctrl-Alt-Del menu. —Anonymous


As Executive Editor, Tyler spends a lot of time editing reviews and looking at spreadsheets, and whatever time is left over writing reviews. People joke that he doesn't like 90 percent of the games he plays, but he'll tell you he just has very discerning tastes.


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