Keyboard Shortcut Hacking: Adding More Hours to Your Day

The term “life hack” refers to all skills, shortcuts and novelty methods employed to increase levels of productivity. One of the most basic and easy-to-master life hacks is learning your most useful keyboard shortcuts. You can do more than you might have guessed with just your keyboard! Using the mouse less often can reduce painful strain on joints, muscles and nerves. Take a look at some time-saving keyboard facts and shortcuts!

keyboard shortcuts

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Saving Time and Staying Focused with Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can shave minutes off of various activities, which can really add up throughout the day! You could end up saving yourself up to an hour of time if you learn them and use them effectively. If three hours were saved each week, an extra six months to a solid year’s worth of pure productivity could accrue.  On a larger scale, the amount of manpower saved per company would be substantial.

Educating employees on tactics for using their computer faster and more efficiently is good for the bottom line. It saves time and keeps the general level of productivity up, as workers no longer need to constantly switch between their keyboard and mouse.

Keyboard Shortcuts

The following keys, when used in conjunction with one another, are fundamental in time-efficient keystroke shortcuts on the PC.

Tip: employ use of these keys in subsequent, rather than simultaneous, order.


As evident in the name, this key ‘tabs’ across the screen to the next tab stop.  It also reduces time consumption of spacebar, and provides a uniform/neat indentation.


The Shift key ‘shifts’ the rest of the keys into another mode. When held down shift….

alters letters > capitals

top-numbers > symbols

NumPad numbers > arrows

directional arrows > highlighting


Performs special operations in conjunction with other keys.

Ctrl + A = selects ALL text/objects.

Ctrl + B =highlights text in bold.

Ctrl + C = copies selected text/other object.

Ctrl + V = pastes text/image that has been copied.

Ctrl + S = saves document/file.

Ctrl + Z = undo previous action.

Ctrl + Y = redo any “Ctrl+Z” action.


A modifier used in similar “Shift” fashion, this key alternates the function of other pressed keys. Some commonly used combos are:

  • Alt + F = opens ‘file’ menu in an open program.
  • Alt + F4 = closes the open program.
  • Alt + Spacebar = opens the Window menu of an opened program.
  • Alt + Tab = switches between open programs, from L>R.
  • Alt + Shift + Tab = will reverse the order of switching programs.


Its current main function is to interrupt or cancel current process and/or programs.  Esc is useful on websites that use jQuery to display photos, as pressing Esc is quicker than trying to click on the little ‘x’ in the top right corner.

To Interact With Text

Select text >> Press Shift + Right

Arrow, Left Arrow, Up Arrow, or Down Arrow to highlight text

Ctrl + Shift +

Arrow Keys do the same thing but more quickly, since the cursor is moving per word now instead of per character.

To select to the end of the line, press Shift + End.

  • From the cursor to the beginning of the line, Shift + Home.
  • To Copy selected text to the ‘clipboard’, press Ctrl + C.
  • Cut selected text by pressing Ctrl + X.
  • Paste copied text from the ‘clipboard by pressing >> Ctrl + V.
  • Undo an action >> Press Ctrl+Z.
  • Redo an action >> Press Ctrl+Y.

These options are great for when you are considering changes, but aren’t sure yet, or if you accidentally deleted something you now need.  Also fun to hold them down and see your whole history of actions like a time-lapsed film.

Try it the next time you have worked for a long time on something. Save it to be safe, then just hold down Ctrl + Z to watch it all in reverse.  Then hold down Ctrl + Y to watch it all go forward again in fast motion.

This not only works in word processors but most other applications as well such as Photoshop or Excel.


(Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)

  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)
  • CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)

Shift with any of the arrow keys (Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document)

CTRL+A (Select all)

CTRL + DELETE deletes the rest of the word, or entire word if cursor is placed at beginning.

For files and folders on your computer:

Alt+Enter (View the properties for the selected item)

Delete (Sends a file to the recycle bin. Press the spacebar after to select ‘Yes’)

Shift+Delete (Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin)

CTRL THEN dragging an item (Copy the selected item)

CTRL+Shift THEN dragging an item (Create a shortcut to the selected item)

F2 key (Rename the selected item)

Getting Around your Computer:

Alt+Tab (Switch between the open items)

Alt + Tab = Cycles between open windows

[Alt & Shift] + Tab = Cycles between open windows in the other direction

Ctrl + Tab = Cycles between tabs or child windows

[Ctrl + Shift] + Tab = Cycles between tabs or child windows in the other direction

Alt + ESC (Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened

Alt + Spacebar (Display the System menu for the active window)

Backspace (View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer)

ESC (Cancel the current task)

Do you ever need to get to the desktop of your computer and as you are minimizing all the Windows realize how many you have open? This can be a big time waster throughout the day. Just hold your Windows key and press D to show your desktop. Do it again to restore your windows. To minimize only the active window, press alt+ spacebar and then press N.

To maximize the active window, press alt + spacebar and then press X.

Create a new document

Press Ctrl + N in most programs to create a new blank project.

Press Ctrl + T for a new tab in a web browser.

Alt + F4 closes the current program.

Ctrl + F4 closes documents inside a program.

CTRL + F typically lets you enter a word to search the page for.

Use TAB to move forward through forms and SHIFT+TAB to move backwards through a form.

After a little practice, your fingers will be flying across the keyboard like a shortcut pro. Just imagine and you’ll save a huge amount of time too.

Shortcut Keys with Windows logo key:

Windows logo key +D -> Display the desktop / Restore windows

Windows logo key + TAB -> Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D

Windows logo key + SHIFT + TAB -> Cycle the other way.

Windows logo key +L -> Lock your computer or switch users

Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts JUST for Microsoft WORD

Have you ever been working in Microsoft Word and needed to change your font size for a section? Well, Windows has a keyboard shortcut for that!

Push Ctrl + [ to increase the font size by 1 point

Push Ctrl + ] to decrease the font by 1 point

Ctrl + F lets you search for a word or phrase.

Alt + Shift + D = displays the current date as text.

Alt + Shift + T = displays the current time as text.

Shortcuts for your Web Browser

Web Browser Keyboard Shortcut

Tab: When navigating a web form, Tab will move forward one field.

Shift + Tab: When navigating a web form,

Shift + Tab will move backwards one field.

Ctrl + Tab: Cycles through the tabs of a single instance of most popular web browsers. It works similar to Alt + Tab for applications.

Ctrl + Shift + Tab: Same as above except the rotation is “backwards.”

Alt + Left Arrow Key:  Equivalent to using the “Back” button in your web browser.

Alt + Right Arrow Key:  Equivalent to using the “Forward” button in your web browser.

Ctrl + D: Bookmark active webpage

Ctrl + T: Opens a new browsing tab.

Ctrl + F: Find text within the currently-displayed webpage.

Ctrl + +/- Holding Ctrl and tapping + will “Zoom in” to a webpage (make the text larger) while holding Ctrl and tapping will “Zoom Out” (make the text smaller).

F5:  Refresh the current webpage. Equivalent to clicking your browser’s reload button.

ALT+D -> Selects the Address bar

What Other Great Time Saving Shortcuts Exist?

When you need to create a lot of new folders in Windows:

In Windows, you can hold Shift and press F10 to bring up the “right click” menu, press alt + w to select Create New, and press alt + F for folder. Then simply type in the name you want for your new folder and hit Enter!  This can be done over and over, saving you a great deal of mousing around.

You can also use the exclusive key to open context menu that are available in most of the new laptops and keyboards. This key is usually available between right ALT and CTRL key.

But this is not even the fastest way.  By right clicking, then pressing w, then pressing f, you can immediately begin typing the new folder’s name then press ‘Enter’ repeat the process. This mouse-click/keyboard-shortcut combo is the fastest way to create and name a large number of new folders in Windows.

F11 toggles full screen in web browsers giving you a fuller richer experience in some cases.  Browsing In full screen can alleviate distraction and help you really focus on what you’re reading or watching, and has a certain nice aesthetic to it. Being able to easily toggle between the two is good if you need to occasionally switch to something else like your Gmail or Facebook.

Hold SHIFT when you insert a CD -> It prevents the CD from auto-playing.

When all else fails, just press the ‘Panic’ button.


Refer to the infographic above for more keyboard cheats, and don’t forget to bookmark a page of shortcuts. Integrating keyboard shortcuts can efficiently increase productivity. By gradually mastering these combos once a week, you’ll have full keyboard comprehension. With all that saved time, you can visit to get your daily dose of digital tips and trend updates.


  • Adem Onur Miskbay says:

    ctrl+shift+esc for Task Manager’s processes tab.. especially helpful when you need to kill an app but do not want to wait to select from the menu propted when using ctrl+alt+del

  • TinVanMan says:

    I spend most of my time on the computer in Word and I am definitely going to save some time with those shortcuts. Brilliant! I am still looking for ways to add letters from other languages with keystrokes, especially Swedish and Spanish. Maybe I will see that in an upcoming infographic (hint hint). Thanks for the knowledge.

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