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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 50: Command Your Windows PC from the Keyboard

Level Medium

Platform Windows

Cost Free

The graphical user interface revolutionized personal computing because it made using a computer so much more visual. However, using the mouse is one of the most inefficient ways to drive a computer. Think about it: you must move your hand from the keyboard to the mouse pad, drag the pointer across the screen until it’s over a button or icon, and then double-click to open a document or launch an application.

You can save an enormous amount of time by using keyboard shortcuts to navigate your computer’s operating system and programs. This hack describes how to bypass the mouse and launch programs and documents on your Windows PC without ever taking your hands off the keyboard.

Built-In Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft Windows has several built-in keyboard shortcuts that can reduce the number of times you reach for the mouse during your workday. Here are some of the essential — and classic — shortcuts for navigating Windows:

Shortcut Result
Alt+Tab or Win+Tab Cycle through open programs (release keys when you see the screen you want).
Windows+D Show the desktop.
Windows+L Lock your workstation.
Windows+R Show the Run box.
Windows Open the Start menu.
Ctrl+Esc Open the Start menu.

The following are indispensable editing shortcuts:

Shortcut Result
Ctrl+S Save the current document.
Ctrl+C Copy selected text to clipboard.
Ctrl+X ...

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