by Paul Mah

10 keyboard shortcuts to use Windows 10 like a pro

Oct 07, 2015
MicrosoftSmall and Medium BusinessWindows

Windows 10 offers a bunch of slick new features designed to appeal to PC power users, but it also includes killer keyboard shortcuts that all serious users should know.

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - intro title
Credit: IDG

Keep your hands on the keys!

For all the disruption caused by the rise of smartphones and tablets with their on-screen keyboards, the humble, physical keyboard has continued as a linchpin when it comes getting things done on the PC.

If anything, Microsoft’s popular Surface Pro 3 with its Type Cover keyboard and Apple’s upcoming iPad Pro with its Smart Keyboard prove the veracity of this claim. If tablets were the be-all/end-all, why would there be such a market for the accompanying keyboards? Let’s face it: a physical keyboard is must when you want to get real work done.

Here are 10 sets of useful keyboard shortcuts to use Windows 10 like the professional that you are.

1. Create or close new virtual desktops

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 1 - virtual desktops

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + Ctrl + D (to create virtual desktops), Windows + Ctrl + F4 (to close them)

One of the best features that Windows 10 finally brings to the table is its native support for virtual desktops. Long since found in the Linux world – and on the Mac since OS X Leopard – virtual desktops let you expand your desktop environment beyond the limits of the physical screen. This allows you to segregate different tasks or task groups to their own desktop, and being able to switch between them while leaving applications open and arranged just the way you like it. The Windows + Ctrl + D combo lets you create an additional virtual desktop, while the Windows + Ctrl + F4 combo closes it.

2. Switch between virtual desktops

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 2 - switch virtual desktops

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + Ctrl + Left (arrow key), Windows + Ctrl + Right

Virtual desktops won’t be useful without the capability to switch easily between them. Toggle at lightning speed between virtual desktops with this combo, so that you can get back to work faster – or swapping out your Facebook and chat apps for your Outlook app in a split-second should your boss step into the room.

3. Toggle the Windows 10 task view

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 3 - toggle task view

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + Tab

The Task View button located at the bottom left hand corner is a handy way to gain an immediate overview of all your open windows, including the virtual desktops that you have created. But why take your hand off the keyboard for the touchscreen or mouse when this simple shortcut will do the same thing?

4. Easily position your apps

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 4 - easily position apps

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + Left (Arrow Key), Windows + Right, Windows + Up, Windows + Down

The capability to position your apps more precisely on large displays got a shot in the arm in Windows 10. We all know that hitting on the Windows key and the right or left arrow key will dock your application to the right and left of your monitor respectively. With Windows 10, pressing Windows + Up and Windows + Down keys when it your app is docked to the left or right will cause your app window to shrink to that quadrant of the screen. As you can imagine, this makes it much easier to organize applications on the screen, especially for desktop users with 27-inch or even 30-inch displays.

5. Launch apps that are pinned to the Taskbar

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 5 - launch apps pinned taskbar

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + 1, Windows + 2… Windows + 0

Many of us like to pin our apps onto the taskbar to keep them within easy reach. Well, you can now launch them by hitting the Windows key together with a numeric number corresponding to the position of the pinned app icons, counting from the left. You are limited to the first 10 apps though, with the 10th icon being accessed with the Windows + 0 shortcut.­

6. Search with Cortana

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 6 - search with cortana

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + C (Using your voice), Windows + S (By typing your query)

We all love it that Cortana made it to the desktop with Windows 10. Obviously, Microsoft made sure that you can call up Cortana using keyboard shortcuts. Those of you working from cafes or open-concept offices can hit the Windows + S shortcut to type your query into a text box. If you’re lucky to have your own office or if you work from home, then Windows + C will tell Cortana to listen to your spoken query.

7. Bring up the Start context menu

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 7 - bring start context menu

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + X

Power users will love how the Windows + X shortcut brings up the Start context menu, which you can also bring up by right clicking on the Start menu. It’s a quick and easy way to access some of the more powerful features under the hood without having to jump through the usual hoops, offering a direct link to the Control Panel, Event Viewer, Device Manager, Disk Manager and Task Manager, among others.

8. Takes a screenshot and save it as a file

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 8 - take a screenshot

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + Print Screen

Use this shortcut if you would like to capture an image of your current screen and save it into a file in the same step. The image file is saved in the Pictures à Screenshots folder, and can be useful for a variety of reasons. For example, you may be looking to capture important information from an app or browser screen which  you cannot capture with copy and paste, or perhaps even to quickly save a snapshot of a lengthy email when you suspect Outlook is about to crash.

9. Lock the machine

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 9 - lock the machine

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + L

To be clear, this is not a new keyboard shortcut in Windows 10, but worth mentioning due to how it locks your machine in a single step. While certainly useful if you need to step away from your laptop or desktop for a while, those who are genuinely concerned about the security of the data on our laptop should check out 10 things to do before you lose your laptop.

10. Launch the Windows File Explorer

10 Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts - 10 - launch the file explorer

Keyboard shortcut: Windows + E

Another “oldie” keyboard shortcut that brings up the Windows File Explorer, but which unfortunately does not appear to be that well-known. So quit the mouse already and use this shortcut to bring up the File Explorer in a split-second.