Keyboard shortcuts are a boon for productivity on Windows. Many things that take multiple mouse clicks, like taking screenshots, can easily be done with a couple of keystrokes. Windows 11 has several new keyboard shortcuts, but there’s merit in learning about all of the best keyboard shortcuts on the platform. Some of these have been around for years, but aren’t used often enough. I bet there’s at least one shortcut you didn’t know about but wish you had.

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows settings

If you’re a Windows 11 user, you’re no stranger to adjusting settings, since the OS ships with some not-so-great default options. Here’s how you can make your system even quicker:

Windows-i: Opens Windows settings.

Backspace: If you’re a few pages deep in your Windows settings, you press Backspace to go up one level. Keep pressing it again and again, and it’ll eventually bring you back to the settings home page.

Windows-A: Opens quick settings (the equivalent of Mac’s Control Center).

Windows-L: Locks the PC.

Windows-D: Shows the desktop.

Windows-N: Opens the Notification Center and also shows the calendar.

Windows-R: Opens the Run window and lets you quickly launch apps.

Windows-S: Allows you to use Windows search.

Windows-V: Shows your clipboard history.

Windows-Spacebar: Switches between keyboards or input languages.

Screenshot keyboard shortcuts

Taking screenshots is quite simple on Windows, but there are a few keyboard shortcuts that will help you do it quickly.

PrtScn: If your keyboard has a print screen button, it’s the simplest way to take a screenshot in Windows.

Windows-PrtScn: Takes a screenshot of everything visible on the screen.

Alt-PrtScn: Captures a screenshot of the active window.

Windows-F: Takes a screenshot and opens Windows 11’s Feedback Hub. Lets you report any bugs or other issues within your computer to Microsoft.

Windows-Shift-S: Takes a screenshot of a part of the screen. You can define a custom area and Windows will take a screenshot within it.

Windows-Alt-PrtScn: Takes a screenshot of the active game window, using Windows Game Bar.

If the default tools aren’t cutting it for you, then you should switch to ShareX, the best screenshot app for Windows.

Window management keyboard shortcuts

There are plenty of shortcuts that make it easier to manage open windows in various apps:

Alt-Tab: Perhaps the most famous window management shortcut. Lets you cycle through all open apps and switch between them.

Shift-Alt-Tab: Cycles through open apps in reverse order.

Ctrl-Tab: Cycles through open tabs in your browser, File Explorer, or other apps.

Shift-Ctrl-Tab: Cycles through tabs in reverse.

Ctrl-1: Opens the first tab in the browser. Change the number to anything from 1 to 9, and you’ll jump to the corresponding tab.

Tab: Cycles through all clickable elements on the screen. Keep hitting it to go to the next available option.

Ctrl-Tab: The same as Tab, but in reverse.

Windows-Tab: Opens the task view to see your virtual desktops.

Windows-Ctrl-D: Adds a virtual desktop.

Windows-Ctrl-Right Arrow: Switches to the virtual desktop on the right.

Windows-Ctrl-Left Arrow: Switches to the virtual desktop on the left.

Windows-Ctrl-F4: Closes the virtual desktop you’re using.

F11: Maximizes the open window or brings it back to its original size.

Alt-F4: Closes the open window.

File Explorer shortcuts

Windows’ File Explorer has a bunch of great shortcuts for productivity:

F2: Quickly renames files. You can also select multiple files and use F2 to create a sequentially numbered naming scheme, such as Grand-Canyon-Trip (1), Grand-Canyon-Trip (2), and so on.

F3: Quickly goes to the search bar in file explorer. Ctrl-E and Ctrl-F also do the same thing.

Ctrl-L: Selects the address bar. Also works in your browser. In the File Explorer, you can also use F4 to do this.

F5: Refreshes the active window. 

Alt-Enter: When you select any file or folder, this shortcut opens Properties.

Alt-Left Arrow: Go back to the previous page.

Alt-Right Arrow: Go forward.

Ctrl-T: Opens a new tab.

Ctrl-Shift-N: Creates a new folder.

Alt-P: Opens the preview pane.

Useful miscellaneous shortcuts

There are many, many more keyboard shortcuts in Windows. Here are some of the most useful among them:

Ctrl-C: Copy.

Ctrl-X: Cut.

Ctrl-V: Paste

Ctrl-Shift-V: Paste without formatting.

Ctrl-Z: Undo.

Ctrl-Y: Redo.

Ctrl-D: Deletes the selected item and sends it to the Recycle Bin. You can also press Delete to do this.

Ctrl-Esc: Opens the Start menu. Useful alternative if your keyboard’s Windows key isn’t working.

Ctrl-Shift-Esc: Opens Task Manager.

Shift-F10: The keyboard version of the right-click.

Shift-Delete: Permanently deletes selected items.

Esc: Helps you escape lots of things, such as pop-ups or accidentally executed actions.

Looking for a new Windows laptop? Our friends at PCMag have a list of the best notebooks for 2024, including:

HP Pavilion Plus 14 (2023, AMD): $831.27

Acer Aspire 3 (A315-24P): $414 (usually $499.99)

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED (Q420): $838

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12: $1,999 (usually $2,099)

Dell XPS 15 (9530) (2023): $1,650