Microsoft Monday

If you’re like me, you use keyboard shortcuts to save you some time wherever possible, and to increase productivity.  Most applications offer their own list of keyboard shortcuts, but today I’m focusing on the shortcuts found in Windows, particularly Windows Vista. 

When you’re using Windows Vista, there’s not much of a need to use a mouse for navigational purposes because there are many keyboard shortcuts that will do everything you need.  The most basic keyboard shortcut that doesn’t really take much to remember is the Windows key. Everybody knows this one opens the start menu, right?

Of course there’s more than just the Windows key, and once you know some of the shortcuts and use them a few times, you’ll probably find yourself using them more and more. Note: Not all of the shortcuts shown below are Vista specific.

Key Combination Function
Windows Key + Space Bar Show Windows Sidebar and brings gadgets to the front.
Windows Key + D Show desktop
Windows Key + M Minimizes all windows
Windows Key + X Opens the Windows Mobility Center
Windows Key + L Locks desktop
Windows Key + G Cycle through gadgets
Windows Key + F Search for a file or a folder
Windows Key + R Open the Run dialog box
Windows Key + T Cycle through programs on the taskbar
Windows Key + E Open Windows Explorer
Windows Key + any number Ex: Windows Key + 1 will open the first shortcut in the Quick-Launch menu.

There are a few that I tend to use multiple times on a daily basis, and one of them is windows key + d which shows me my desktop. Countless times throughout the day, I need to get to my desktop.  Instead of minimizing my windows one by one, this shortcut takes me immediately to my desktop without any clicks of a mouse.

Another shortcut that I tend to use frequently is the Windows Key.  With Vista’s new search capabilities, it’s nice to just press the windows key, and then immediately start typing the program or document that I’m searching for. This one is a huge time saver.

If you’ve made the upgrade to Vista and you use the gadgets, another helpful key combination that I find myself using frequently is windows key + space bar because it brings all of my gadgets to the front, as well as the windows sidebar. One of the gadgets that I use the most is the weather gadget, and so if I want to know what the weather is like, I can use this key combination.

Now, I know that not everybody uses Windows.  There are Apple fans, Linux fans, and the list of operating systems goes on.  What’s great is that there are shortcuts for each of these operating systems as well. Over at Wikipedia, you’ll find a table with the key combinations that you’d need for Windows, Mac OS, KDE or Gnome.

This list will also come in handy if you ever have to switch between two different operating systems and you’re trying to remember which command does what with the operating system that you’re on.  When I was a student, at school I’d generally use Mac’s, however, at home I have a Windows based PC.  I can’t tell you how many times I tried to use Ctrl+C to copy something when I was on an Apple only to realize a second later it didn’t work. Commands aren’t universal among operating systems, so this list is helpful.

Table of Keyboard Shortcuts from Wikipedia

The table of shortcuts listed above are so small in comparison to how many are available.  Microsoft has a web page specifically for shortcuts. If there’s one you’re looking for, I’d head over there and take a look. They divide the page up into different categories, so finding the one you need isn’t difficult. Feel free to leave a comment below and let everybody know which combinations you use the most.  There may be some that others weren’t aware of that will be helpful to them as well.