The best Windows shortcuts and tricks

We like doing things quickly on our PCs, or at least in a manner that looks cooler than carefully moving a mouse cursor around. You've seen hacker movies—they don't touch that cowardly two-buttoned pointing device, preferring rapid console input to the low-brow convenience of GUIs.

We won't go that far, but basic fluency in Windows 10 shortcuts and tricks will increase your efficiency and make you look slightly cooler when you pull up a funny YouTube video for your friends, even if they don't laugh while you watch expectantly. 

You can find the entire list of Windows shortcuts here, but below are some of our favorites:

The Windows key

It's not just something to accidentally press while trying to crouch with Ctrl, minimizing your game at the worst possible time. Here are a few uses for the Windows key:

Windows + D: Minimize all windows. Hit it again to bring them back.

Windows + E: Open Explorer to 'Computer.'

Windows + R: Open the 'Run' prompt.

Windows + T: Scroll through taskbar.

Windows + P: Change display configuration.

Windows + Tab: Displays all open windows on a grid. Looks cooler than Alt-Tab.

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

Windows + Up: Maximize a window.

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

Windows key + Shift + Right or Left Arrow: Move a window to another monitor.

Shift + Windows key + S: Activates the snipping tool: drag a rectangle to copy a portion of your screen to the clipboard.

Chrome and Firefox shortcuts

Ctrl + N: Open a new window.

Ctrl + T: Open a new tab.

Ctrl + Shift + T: Reopen the last closed tab. This is vital. 

Ctrl + H:  Open the History page in a new tab.

Ctrl + J: Open the Downloads page in a new tab.

Ctrl + [+] or [-]: Make everything on the current page bigger or smaller.

Ctrl + 0: Reset any zooming you've done.

Here are the full shortcut lists for Chrome and Firefox.

Miscellaneous tricks

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

Shift + Right Click on a file to open the "extended" context menu, giving you the option to "copy as path" and make it a pasteable text (eg, C:\something\anotherthing\myfile.dat) instead of copying the file.

Alt + Print Screen: Print Screen throws an image of your desktop into 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.

Ctrl + Shift + Click (or Enter): Run a program as admin.

Calibrate your colors: 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. 

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.

Reset your video driver:  Ctrl + Shift + Windows + B. This one comes via Epic's Tim Sweeney. 

Now a few tips from the comments:

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

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

F2 to rename a 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

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.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.