Tip

Help your users with shortcut keys

There's no denying it, keystrokes are faster than your mouse. That is, if you can remember them. Windows desktop has a number of keystrokes based on the use of the special Windows key in combination with other keys. On most keyboards you will find this key near the Alt and Ctrl keys, and it usually has the Microsoft speeding window icon on it.

Your users will appreciate being able to use these shortcut keys to save time, so print the list out in a font small enough that you can have them tape it to the bottom of a monitor, or somewhere on their keyboard housing. Pretty soon they'll learn the shortcuts they use often, and can throw away your cheat sheet.

Here's a short list of some of the functions the Windows key can perform:

  • By itself with nothing selected it will open or hide the Start menu.
  • By itself with something selected the Windows key opens that selection's context menu.

    • +Break will open the Systems Properties dialog box.
    • +D will show the desktop.
    • +E opens My Computer.
    • +F initiates a search for files or folders.
    • +Ctrl+F opens a search for computers.
    • +F1 opens the Windows Help window.
    • +L will lock your computer on a network domain, or allow you to switch users for a computer that isn't part of a domain.
    • +M minimizes all windows
    • +Shift+M will restore all minimized windows.
    • +R opens the Run dialog box.
    • +U opens the Utility Manager.

Barrie Sosinsky (

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barries@killerapps.com)is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


This was first published in July 2002

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