How to Use Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts to Make Your Device More Efficient

Control your Windows 10 laptop or desktop computer with these commands

What to Know

  • Tap the Windows key to open and close the Start Menu. Windows+E opens File Explorer. Windows+L immediately locks the screen.
  • Tap Windows+G to open the Xbox Game bar, or Windows+K to activate the Connect menu for Bluetooth and other devices.
  • Windows+Left (or Right) arrow: Snap an app or window to the left or right side of the screen. Ctrl+C to copy; Ctrl+V to paste; Ctrl+Z to undo.

This article lists several Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts, sometimes referred to as Windows hotkeys. The shortcuts are set combinations of key presses that can activate specific operating system commands to streamline your workflow and increase productivity.

Windows 10 System Hotkeys

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts can be used to turn a Windows 10 device on or off, lock it, or activate certain menus.

Windows: Tapping the Windows key by itself will open and close the Windows 10 Start Menu.

Windows+A: Opens the Action Center which is usually activated by clicking on the notifications icon in the lower-right corner of the screen or by swiping in from the right side with your finger.

Windows+E: Opens File Explorer.

Windows+G: This combination opens the Xbox Game bar while playing a video game on your Windows 10 computer or laptop.

Windows+I: Opens Settings.

Windows+K: Activates the Connect menu for linking your Windows 10 device to something else via Bluetooth.

Windows+L: Immediately locks your Windows 10 device and returns you to the Sign-in screen. This is especially useful if you need to quickly hide what you're doing from someone else or need to leave your desk for a few minutes.

Windows+Spacebar: Cycle through your language and keyboard options.

Windows 10 App Keyboard Shortcuts

These keyboard commands can be a convenient way to open, close, or control specific Windows 10 apps.

Windows+D: This hides all of the open apps and takes you directly to the Windows 10 desktop. Using this command a second time will display all of your open apps again.

Windows+M: Minimizes all open apps and windows.

Windows+Left arrow: Snaps an app or window to the left side of the screen.

Windows+Right arrow: Snaps an app or window to the right side of the screen.

Windows+Up arrow: Maximizes all open apps and windows that have been minimized.

Windows+Down arrow: Minimizes all apps and windows.

Ctrl+Shift+Esc: Opens Task Manager. This is used to show you all apps that are currently running and how much processing power they're using.

Alt+Tab: Displays all open apps and lets you switch between them quickly.

Ctrl+Alt+Tab: Shows all open apps.

Windows+0 (zero): Opens the Windows 10 Sticky Notes app.

Windows 10 Clipboard Shortcut Keys

Copying and pasting text and media by right-clicking with your mouse is effective but these Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts are much faster.

Ctrl+C: Copies highlighted text or media to the clipboard.

Ctrl+X: Cuts the highlighted items.

Cut is essentially the same as Copy but also removes the original.

Ctrl+V: Pastes the cut or copied content.

Ctrl+A: Selects all content within an app or open window.

PrtScn: Copies an image of the entire screen to your device's clipboard. This can then be pasted into an image editing app such as Photoshop.

Some keyboards may have a Print Screen button instead of a PrtScn one. They both perform the same function. 

Windows+PrtScn: Takes an image of the entire screen and saves it to your Windows 10 device's Screenshots folder.

Cortana Keyboard Shortcuts

Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant that works in much the same way as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. Cortana is built directly into the Windows 10 operating system and can typically be activated by clicking or tapping on the circular Cortana icon in the Taskbar next to the Windows icon.

Windows 10's digital assistant can also be controlled with these keyboard commands.

Windows+S: Opens Cortana.

Windows+C: Open Cortana in listening mode. This opens Cortana and immediately allows you to speak to it without having to press the microphone button.

This particular shortcut is disabled by default on all Windows 10 devices. You can activate its functionality by doing the following.

  1. Press Windows+I to open the Settings app.

  2. Select Cortana.

    Settings > Cortana
  3. Select the switch below the text that says Let Cortana listen for my commands when I press the Windows logo key + C. If it says On, the Windows+C keyboard shortcut will now work.

    Let Cortana listen to commands

Miscellaneous Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some extra hotkeys that are convenient and can save you time.

Ctrl+Z: This will undo the previous action in most apps.

Ctrl+Shift+N: Creates a new folder in File Explorer.

Window+. or ; (semicolon): Brings up the emoji box. This is incredibly useful when typing in an app that has no built-in emoji or emoticon options.

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