keyboard shortcuts

20+ Important Keyboard Shortcuts That Will Simplify Your Life (Windows and Mac)

by Tari Yousuo

I’ve been playing with keyboard shortcuts since 2014. There was a time when I had to use a laptop without a mouse or touchpad. It forced me to find creative ways around the computer.

What started as a frustrating joke has become a fiery weapon in my geeky arsenal. Today, I want to share 27 Keyboard Shortcuts that will make your work faster and your life easier. 

But first, let me give you a brief rundown of keyboard shortcuts and why they’re important.

What are Keyboard Shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts are a combination of keys (the buttons on your keyboard) that help you perform tasks on your computer without going through the long process of scrolling with your mouse, clicking, and selecting multiple options.

For example, if you were to delete a file permanently, the longer step could look like

  1. Scroll to the file you want to delete.
  2. Select it by clicking on it.
  3. Right-click to show the options.
  4. Click on delete
  5. Go to desktop icons
  6. Double-click to open the recycle bin
  7. Select the file in the recycle bin
  8. Right-click
  9. Delete

But with a keyboard shortcut, all you have to do is select the file in its initial folder, then use “Shift + Delete” to delete the file permanently.

keyboard with shift button highlighted

Windows keyboard with shift button highlighted

Why Keyboard Shortcuts Are Important

  1. Saves time

At first glance, you might think using shortcuts as opposed to using conventional methods doesn’t make any real change as per timesaving. But if you’re someone who uses a PC for long periods and embraces keyboard shortcuts, you’ll definitely testify to how much faster you get tasks done.

  1. Makes your work easier

Imagine doing with 2 buttons what you’d have done with 10 clicks. Yep, that’s how easy life can get when you know keyboard shortcuts. You’d look so cool your friends will think you’re a magician.

  1. Override unresponsive programs

Every long-term computer user must have experienced moments when his/her computer became unresponsive. The screen freezes, and you can’t even close the program that is running. There’s a keyboard shortcut you can use to force the app/program to close.

How Keyboard Shortcuts Work

You press 2 or 3 keys in a particular order to create the desired effect. For example, Alt + F4 will close any open window. (NOTE:- you’re not typing the plus (+) sign. It just tells you to press and hold Alt, followed by F4)

Now let’s dive into the meat of this post.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

I know you can’t wait to lay your hands on these shortcuts. But there’s something I want you to do.

To make this interesting and more meaningful, please get your PC and try these shortcuts for yourself as you read through. It will help you understand and appreciate keyboard shortcuts. Also, it will stick better in your memory.

Windows keyboard shortcuts for editing text

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Ctrl + A Highlight (select) all text on a page.
Ctrl + C Copy the selected text
Ctrl + V Paste the copied text
Ctrl + X Cut selected text.
Ctrl + B Make the selected text bold
Ctrl + I Italicize the selected text
Ctrl + U Underline highlighted text
Ctrl + Y Redo changes
Ctrl + Z Reverse changes
Ctrl + S Save changes
Home Move the cursor to the first letter of a line
End Move the cursor to the last letter of a line
Ctrl + Home Move the cursor to the beginning of your document/page
Ctrl + End Move the cursor to the end of your document/page

Keyboard shortcuts for file editing on Windows

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Ctrl + A Select all files in a folder
Ctrl + C Copy file
Ctrl + V Paste the copied file
Ctrl + X Cut file (used to move the file instead of copying it)
Ctrl + D Delete the selected item and move it to the recycle bin
Shift + Delete Permanently delete selected file (without moving to recycle bin)
Ctrl + Shift + N Create new folder
F2 Rename selected item
Alt + Enter Display properties of the selected item
⊞ Win + V Open the clipboard (see all the items you’ve copied over time)
Shift + Arrow (up/down/left/right) Select files/text towards a particular direction

Windows keyboard shortcuts for Navigation

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Alt + Left arrow Go back
Alt + Right arrow Go forward
⊞ Win + Up arrow Maximize window
⊞ Win + Down arrow Minimize window
Ctrl + W (or Alt + F4) Close the active window
Alt + Tab Switch between open apps
Ctrl + Mousewheel Zoom in/out, change the size(appearance of files/icons)
Alt + F4 Close all windows (you might have to press multiple times)
Tab Move around different parts of a window (app).

Windows keyboard shortcuts for special functions

Keyboard Shortcut Action
⊞ Win + ; (or .) Open Emoji Panel 😁
⊞ Win + D Show desktop
⊞ Win + L Lock your computer
⊞ Win + E Open file explorer
⊞ Win + T Select apps from the taskbar
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager (here you can close unresponsive apps)
⊞ Win + S Open the Search panel
⊞ Win + I Open settings
⊞ Win + U Open ease of access centre
⊞ Win + Shift + S (or PrintScreen) Take a screenshot of your PC (paste it into “paint” to save if you use PrintScreen)
⊞ Win + X Show hidden menu
Ctrl + F Find (open the find bar)
F5 Refresh (used to reload a page or folder)

Keyboard shortcuts for special characters on Windows

Keyboard Shortcut Special Character
Alt + 0169 ©
Alt + 0174 ®
Alt + 0177 ±
Alt + 0176 ° (degree symbol)
Alt + 0153
Alt + 0128
Alt + 0163 £
Alt + 0165 ¥
Alt + 0191 ¿

Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

mac keyboard with cmd key highlighted

mac keyboard with cmd key highlighted

Note that for Mac, the Command key (⌘Cmd) is equivalent to the Ctrl key in Windows. But some shortcuts are entirely different.

If you use Mac instead of Windows, find the corresponding keyboard shortcuts below.

Mac shortcuts for editing text

Keyboard Shortcut Action
⌘Cmd + A Highlight (select) all text on a page.
⌘Cmd + C Copy the selected items
⌘Cmd + V Paste the copied items
⌘Cmd + X Cut the selected items (to move items instead of copying)
⌘Cmd + Z Undo changes
Shift + ⌘Cmd + Z Redo changes
⌘Cmd + S Save the document
⌘Cmd + B Make the selected text bold
⌘Cmd + I Italicize selected text
⌘Cmd + U Underline selected text
⌘Cmd + K Add a website link to the selected text (i.e. when someone clicks on the text, he/she goes to a particular website)
⌘Cmd + Up arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the document
⌘Cmd + Down arrow Move the cursor to the end of the document
⌘Cmd + Left arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the current line
⌘Cmd + Right arrow Move the cursor to the end of the current line
⌘Cmd + Semicolon(;) Find misspelled words in the document.

Mac shortcuts for file editing

Keyboard Shortcut Action
⌘Cmd + A Select all items
⌘Cmd + C Copy items
⌘Cmd + V Paste the copied items
⌘Cmd + X Cut items (used to move instead of copy)
Shift + ⌘Cmd + N Create a new folder
Option + ⌘Cmd + Delete Permanently delete the selected file

Mac shortcuts for navigation and special functions

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Shift + ⌘Cmd + C Open the computer window.
Shift + ⌘Cmd + D Open desktop folder
Shift + ⌘Cmd + I Open iCloud drive
Ctrl + ⌘Cmd + Space bar Open Character Viewer (here you can select emojis)
Ctrl + ⌘Cmd + Q Lock your screen
Option + ⌘Cmd + L Open downloads folder
Shift + ⌘Cmd + O Open the Documents folder
Shift + ⌘Cmd + R Open the Airdrop window
Shift + ⌘Cmd + Delete Empty trash
Ctrl + ⌘Cmd + Power button Force your Mac to restart
Ctrl + Option + ⌘Cmd + Power button Quit all apps automatically, then shut down your Mac
Shift + ⌘Cmd + 5 Take a screenshot or screen recording

Mac shortcuts for special characters

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Option + G ©
Option + R ®
Option + 0 ° (degree symbol)
Option + 2 ™ 
Option + Shift + 2
Option + 3 £
Option + Y ¥
Shift + Option + ? ¿

Frequently Asked Questions about Keyboard Shortcuts

Why are keyboard shortcuts not working on my PC?

Common reasons why keyboard shortcuts are not working for you include

  • Outdated Operating System: Especially for Mac users, if your PC is way behind, some shortcuts here may not work for you. Consider upgrading or updating. There might be slight variations for some shortcuts as newer products/software emerge. 
  • Some keys on your keyboard may be faulty. Try a different keyboard.
  • You might have accidentally tampered with your keyboard and/or language settings. Reset them in the settings panel.

What are hotkeys?

It’s another term for keyboard shortcuts.

Are keyboard shortcuts faster than mouse?

In my experience, Yes. But if you’re just starting out with them, it can be confusing to recall which key does what. Still, I’d encourage you to play with them for a few days, and you’d be glad you did.

Conclusion – Cut Short Your Computer Stress

In life, we’re mostly advised against taking shortcuts. But today, I’m inviting you to take the plunge and increase your productivity on the keyboard. Learn the keyboard shortcuts most relevant to your everyday tasks on the computer and make your life easier.

You’re welcome.

PS:- I’d love to hear your feedback. Say something in the comments, or even better, join our Whatsapp community and start a conversation. Finally, if you found this helpful, please share.

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Edited by Halimat Chisom.

About Author

Tari Yousuo
Tari Yousuo
Tari is an SEO Specialist and Content Writer. A final year medical student interested in health technology.

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