Most useful keyboard shortcuts

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

There are keyboard shortcuts for pretty much everything you regularly do on a computer. Here are the ones we've found most useful in our day-to-day lives.

(Keyboard image by Jeroen Bennink, CC BY 2.0)

There are times when it's just easier to tap a few keys on a keyboard rather than fiddling about with a mouse. We use keyboard shortcuts every day to save time and bother — here some of our most-used shortcuts.

Close window/tab

Windows: Ctrl+W
Mac: ⌘Cmd+W

This shortcut closes your currently open window, not the entire program. This means that if you have various word processing documents open, it will only close the current one. Within a browser, it will close the current tab.

Reopen closed tab

Windows: Ctrl+⇧Shift+T
Mac: ⌘Cmd+⇧Shift+T

Ever slip and close a tab that you needed open? Most browsers now have a feature where you can find your most recently closed tab and reopen it, but this shortcut will do it for you. If you've closed more than one, continue tapping the T key to open them in the reverse order in which you closed them.

Cycle through browser tabs

Windows: Ctrl+PageUp/PageDown
Mac: ⌘Cmd+Opt+←/→ (Firefox and Chrome); ⌘Cmd+Shift+←/→ (Safari)

You can use the Tab key instead of PageUp and PageDown for this one, but the latter two keys let you cycle in both directions. PageUp will take you to the tabs on the left, PageDown to the tabs on the right.

Minimise/maximise window

Windows: Alt+Space+N (minimise)/Alt+Space+X (maximise)
Mac: ⌘Cmd+M/⌘Cmd+L

There are a few shortcuts for minimising and maximising your windows. This is just the most basic: minimising and maximising the current window.

Minimise/maximise all

Windows: ⊞Win+M
Mac: ⌘Cmd+Alt+M

Want to go to a clean desktop? This one puts all your programs neatly away in your taskbar. To undo in Windows, just add the Shift key (⊞Win+Shift+M).

Cycle through all open applications

Windows: ⊞Win+Tab
Mac: ⌘Cmd+Tab

Holding the Windows or Command key and tapping the Tab key lets you cycle through all of your open programs.


Windows: Ctrl+N
Mac: ⌘Cmd+N

This one is context sensitive depending on what you're doing. If you are using a browser, it will open a new window. If you are using editing software, such as word processing or Photoshop, it will create a new document. If you are in your file explorer, it will create a new folder.

Rename file

Windows: F2
Mac: Enter

Tap the appropriate key for your OS when the file you want to rename is highlighted.


Windows: Ctrl+F
Mac: ⌘Cmd+F

Using the web, a reader or a word processing program, this helps you find a word. In file explorer, it helps you find programs. Type the term in the box that opens and hit the Enter key. Hit Enter again to cycle through all instances of that word.

Find and replace

Windows: Ctrl+H
Mac: ⌘Cmd+Shift+F

This opens the dialog box to perform a "Find and replace" operation in an open document.

Go to beginning or end

Windows: Home/End
Mac: ⌘Cmd+←/→

This is particularly useful on the web: it takes you to the top or bottom of the open page. In word processing, it will take you to the beginning or end of the current line. Adding Ctrl in Windows will take you to the start or end of a document; using a Mac, just switch out the left and right arrows for up and down.

Move one word backward/forward

Windows: Ctrl+←/→
Mac: Alt+B/F

Like it says on the tin, this shortcut moves your cursor one word to the left or right. If you hold down the Shift key while doing this in Windows, you can also highlight the word you've jumped.

Go to next text entry field

Windows: Tab
Mac: Tab

It seems like everyone should know this one, but we can never tell. When filling out web forms or dialog boxes, Tab saves you clicking on the next entry field.

Go to address bar

Windows: Alt+D
Mac: ⌘Cmd+L

This moves your cursor to your browser's address bar and highlights the text, so all you need to do is start typing your search term or URL.

Rotate screen orientation

Windows: Ctrl+Alt+any arrow key

If you do this to your co-workers while they're away from their desks, your IT team will love you forever.

Do you have a favourite keyboard shortcut that you don't see listed here? Share it in the comments below.

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ElliottA posted a comment   

My favorite is making a shortcut to apps on the desktop then assigning a hotkey to that shortcut. I'm a developer and I love being able to open the myriad of programs I use all the time with that. I do wish Microsoft would add that to the live tiles in windows 8.


MichaelM22 posted a comment   

By Far the best windows ctl alt delete lock screen out unfortunately there's no shortcut for macs.


RogerK posted a reply   
United Kingdom

Win L also locks win7/8 pc's


ColeB posted a comment   

I've always wondered if there is a way to tab back to a previous text entry field?


StefL posted a reply   

Shift Tab works on my Mac


BenS12 posted a reply   

shift Tab


AndrewM15 posted a comment   
United States

Cmd A is one that I use a lot to select all (text, etc.)


CharlieM1 posted a comment   


Who did you ASK, because you couldn't have TRIED each of these -- MY MAC operates quite different, at least.


MichaelM22 posted a reply   

pfft are you even on OSX?


StijnC posted a comment   

And ofcourse don't forget these:
Ctrl + F4 = Close current window
Ctrl + Shift + Esc = Open task manager
Ctrl + Alt + Delete = Shows menu to lock the pc, open the tskmngr, logout, ...
Ctrl + Alt + Insert/End = Acts as Ctrl+Alt+Del in a Virtual Machine or Remote desktop

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