Windows

10+ Windows XP keyboard shortcuts to speed everyday tasks


How expansive is your repertoire of Windows XP keyboard shortcuts? A lot of users learn a handful of shortcuts but turn their backs on a host of other ones that could come in handy. Check out the selection of shortcuts below and see if there aren't a couple you didn't know about that could be saving you some real time.

You can also download a PDF that lists 50+ Windows XP shortcuts.

The shortcuts

Keystroke Function
Alt + Tab Switches between open programs
Alt + F4 (in a program) Closes the program
Alt + F4 (from the desktop) Opens the Windows Shutdown/Restart dialog box
Alt + Enter Opens the Properties page of a selected item
Alt + Esc Cycles between open programs in the order they were opened
Alt + Spacebar In the active window, this brings up the corner dialog box for Move, Size, Minimize, Maximize, or Close
Shift + Insert a CD/DVD Inserts a CD/DVD without triggering Autoplay or Autorun
Shift + Delete Permanently deletes an item (rather than sending it to the Recycle Bin)
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Opens the Windows Task Manager
Ctrl + drag an icon Copies that item
Ctrl + Shift + drag an icon Creates a shortcut for the item
Right-click + drag an icon Brings up a menu to copy, move, or create a shortcut for the item
F1 Opens Windows XP Help
F2 Highlights the label of a selected item for renaming
F3 Opens Windows search for files and folders
F5 (or Ctrl + R) Refreshes an Internet Explorer page or other window
F6 Cycles through the elements that can be selected in a screen or window
F10 Selects the menu bar in the active program (usually the File menu) so that you can use the arrow keys to navigate through the menus and the Enter key to display one
Shift + F10 Displays a shortcut menu for an item (like right-clicking with the mouse)
Ctrl + Esc Opens the Start menu

Roll your own shortcut

You can also create custom Windows XP shortcuts. Just right-click on the icon of a program or program shortcut, choose Properties, click the Shortcut tab, and enter a keystroke combination in the Shortcut Key field. Windows will let you assign only key combos that aren't already taken.

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

49 comments
vbrucewhitehead
vbrucewhitehead

I don't know why and I'm not sure how, but your list of 10+ shortcuts CANNOT BE PRINTED USING EITHER THE BUTTON PROVIDED OR NORMAL FUNCTIONS! The only way I can see to making a hard copy of it is either by hand (NOT!) or by using a screen capture program, such as Faststone. I occasionally see this EXTREMELY AGGRAVATING type of behavior, and my primary reaction is always the same--HOW STUPID CAN YOU GET? As I said, all I have to do is roll out my Faststone and bingo--I've captured the content that someone thought was so unique (usually NOT) that it would be stolen or something.

tynansdtm
tynansdtm

Also, holding Alt when click-and-dragging creates shortcuts, and holding shift will move them (even when default action is copy, such as to another device).

clinton.milner
clinton.milner

Using a Mac and PC daily, I often wonder why you can't create a New Folder w/ a key command on a PC. Come on Gates...

rishvagr
rishvagr

they are really of good help in operating xp more efficiently.....

rapell
rapell

for example, how do you use your keyboard to read through the comments in this post, from one to the other quickly? and not just Tabbing

andrewgleeson
andrewgleeson

No one seems to have mentioned this one, but it's gem if you can rotate your monitor or fully open your laptop: Ctrl + Alt + {arrow key) try it.

mcp111
mcp111

The print button prints everything but the shortcuts!!!

cmbazan
cmbazan

How about: TAB - in order to focus on the "next" control in a web page, windows app/form/dialog, etc SHIFT + TAB - in order to focus on the "previous" control/element into a web page, windows app/form/dialog (both need the app/web page/etc to be focus-enabled by the programmer!) and how about this two: PRINTSCREEN - copies current screen into Windows' clipboard as an image ALT+PRINTSCREEN - copies current window into Windows' clipboard as an image (BTW: I found a keyboard -don't remember its brand, but looked like a "recent" launch- on which I couldn't apply those keys!! Arggg!!)

twobrats64
twobrats64

I just replaced my MS Natural keyboard with a Natural 4000 (alright, I'll admit it, I dropped a cup of coffee in the old one!). In any case, I can no longer use shortcuts that I've gotten used to in the past (for example Shift+F5 to go back to my last edits or Shift+F3 to toggle between capital and lower case text). Can anybody tell me how to restore these shortcuts? Thanks!

rlsi2k6
rlsi2k6

These is to navigate thru the Desktop and the Quick Launch and the Task Bar and Desktop itself. First press > Ctrl-Esc (To access the loop of bars) Second press > Tab ( to jump from bar to bar ) When you select one of the bars, use: > Left or Right Arrows (and up or Down for the Start menu) ( to go to the icon or shortcut you are looking for ) This is in case you do not remember any of the specific programs, utilities or services shortcuts. You just need to remember what is what, where and in what order.

richard.woodman
richard.woodman

Nice rollup and thanks so much. Win + F = Open Search dialog box

andrewb314
andrewb314

I can't get #12 to work for me. I can't find the right-click key anywhere on my keyboard...

PaulVeeGee
PaulVeeGee

I just posted a comment that included a shortcut that was wrong. I meant to write Windows button + e = Opens Explorer

PaulVeeGee
PaulVeeGee

I just posted a comment that included a shortcut that was wrong. I meant to write Windows button + e = Opens Explorer

PaulVeeGee
PaulVeeGee

Brilliant! For several years I have wondered what the keyboard shortcut was to minimise a window and you have now told me. Thank you so much. A couple that I do know and that weren't on your list (although I'm sure you already know them): Windows button + e = Opens the Start menu Windows button + d = Shows the desktop Windows button + l = Logs you out

gdavis4
gdavis4

Great stuff. You never know when a mouse may go south on you or freeze up. Thank you for the additional key strokes. Everyone using a computer should know how to use their keyboard before they can use a mouse. Thank you for giving more users control over their computer environment. Again, thank you. From secret of the trades.

divineprime
divineprime

How about the Windows key to speed up logging off? To log off XP: Win + L For ease of accesiblity try these: Shift + Alt + Printscreen to bring up high contrast settings. Shift Shift Shift Shift Shift, 5 times will bring up the sticky keys option.

maudiib1211
maudiib1211

This is nice to know. I will implement the information in short order.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

ctrl + a = to select all item in folder ctrl + left click = to select items one at a time ctrl + x = to cut an item select selected ctrl + c = to copy an item selected ctrl + v = to paste the selected items whether cut or copied ctrl + alt + delete = to summon task manager, logoff, shutdown, or change password screen. (This will summon a program task killer in Win98 or reboot it). Also most people forget the power of the *Menu Key* which is right next to the alt and Windows key. This is on the Devorak simplified layout.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You could simply click on the line "[u]50+ Windows XP shortcuts[/u]" to download a more comprehensive list. It is frustrating, though. For whatever reason, the table is not rendered no matter how you choose to print the page.

rpost
rpost

I have a MS Elite keyboard and one of the annoying features is a key called "F Lock." It locks out the "F" functions of the F keys. Try pushing this key and see if your functions come back.

sdcphoneguy
sdcphoneguy

Pressing the "Windows" key is the same as pressing Ctrl-Esc. Once the start menu is open you can simply press the first letter of the program or menu you want to open. For example if you press "P" to go to Programs and then the right arrow, you will be able to navigate your Program folder. Pressing a letter cycles through anything starting with that letter.

dejd
dejd

Shift + F10

HJ_Hansen
HJ_Hansen

Windows button + m = minimize all windows I use this one often!

amalsp
amalsp

Win + R = Run Win + E = Explorer Win + D = Desktop and btw Win + L = Lock Computer in my PC. CTRL + TAB move through opened windows CTRL + Shift + Tab move backward through opened windows Win + U = Utility manager???

techrepublic.com.com
techrepublic.com.com

[Alt]+[Shift]+[Print Screen] copies the image of the currently selected window to the clipboard. You might have some proprietary software, likely installed for your video card, that overrides this.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Pressing Win+L locks the workstation. If you have fast user switching enabled, it returns you to the Welcome screen to allow a new user to log on. Pressing Win, then L will bring up the log-off dialog if you have the option enabled in the start menu.

iwaheed
iwaheed

Sorry to say but (Win + L) key is not the log off XP key, it actully lock the work station manually.

WTRTH
WTRTH

Win + Pause/Break Will display the system dialog box.

Penguin_me
Penguin_me

Two things, 1) It's DVORAK (the first 6 letters of the top line on the keyboard) and 2) on a QWERTY keyboard the "Menu" key is between the right CTRL and Windows key.

Fablanta
Fablanta

The old timers out there will still remember the old Delete, Copy and Paste key combos. These still function in XP (Haven't tried Vista yet). They are: SHIFT + INSert = Paste SHIFT + DELete = Cut CTRL + INSert = Copy In my opinion, much more intuitive than V, X and C especially for the beginner.

sandeepkumartg
sandeepkumartg

Win+Pause/Break will get you opened the MyComputer Properties Page

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

In the Start menu when you have added links to the applciations you most frequently use; rename them (right-click and rename or menu key and n) with a preceeding number 0 - 9. Then I just press Windows key followed by a digit to quick start a frequently used application. For example: Mozilla Firefox ... pinned to start menu 3 Firefox ... renamed. Now I just tap Windows then 3 to start Firefox.

twobrats64
twobrats64

Thanks so much, it was really driving me crazy that I couldn't use my favorite shortcuts.

vassalloj
vassalloj

Effectively both because you have to log in again with your password after using.

RandyC-ICS
RandyC-ICS

Windows Key + D works like the "Show Desktop" icon. In essence it minimizes all windows and hitting it again restores all windows to their previous state.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

and tab & arrow your way around the taskbar.

dhays
dhays

It is alt+tab that moves through windows open. In IE ctl+tab that moves you to the address line, in Lotus Notes it moves you throught the open screens.

LurkeyLou
LurkeyLou

are not "DVORAK." Perhaps you were talking about the QWERTY keyboard. The 1st 6 characters on the top line of the DVORAK keyboard are: ',.pyf

Adam Eisenberg
Adam Eisenberg

Since we are talking about working with XP I recommend you use also various combinations with Start key such as Start+Pause to open the System dialog box although keep in mind the [url=http://support.microsoft.com/kb/839573]following[/url], Start+D to quickly switch to the desktop by minimizing all open windows as returning back to the open window when you press the combination again. For users that work in corporate environments and have a desktop screensaver start after a 10 minutes timeout and up but want to hide their desktops immediately when they leave their workplace, I recommend using the well-known Start+L shortcut that locks the computer when you press it. A more detailed list of shortcuts available to use can be [url=http://support.microsoft.com/kb/301583]found here[/url]. A good contribution will be the list of shortcuts available in [url=http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290938]Word 2002 and Office Word 2003[/url]

mpurnell6
mpurnell6

Win + F11 gives a full screen.

rpost
rpost

That gets the SYSTEM properties. I use this shortcut all the time.

luthorstrange
luthorstrange

with a lock, programs still running doing the things you want. log off and they don't :)

techrepublic.com.com
techrepublic.com.com

Nope, he's right. Alt+Tab moves through open applications. Ctrl+Tab does indeed move you through open windows inside an MDI application.

maudiib1211
maudiib1211

This list provides exactly what I have been looking for for some time now. Thanks to all of you who have provided this valuable information. Take care! maudiib1211