So you’ve finally got a free download of that Windows 10 ISO and you’re using it with an old product code. What next, how do you get the best out of it? Well, my answer to this is using keyboard shortcuts.
Here’s a list of some of the best productivity-enchancing shortcuts I’ve learnt recently as well as some I’ve been using for years. Some of these work on older versions of Windows, some only do things on Windows 10.
Most of these use the, now, ubiquitous Windows key – the one with the Windows logo on – along with another key.
Some quick and basic tricks that have been around ages
Most of the shortcuts I’m listing here are new discoveries for me, or new in Windows 10. However there are a few staples you should know about.
Windows + e – gets you to the file manager (explorer as Microsoft calls it)
Windows + m – hides all windows and brings up the desktop.
Windows + arrow keys – this allows you to dock a window to the left or right, and Windows will offer you your other open apps to attach next to it. You can also use Win + down arrow to switch an app from full screen to “windowed” and pressing again will minimise it. Win + up reverses this.
Emoji at the touch of a button
Some people hate them, some people practically ignore traditional language in favour of them so Emoji aren’t going away. One big problem with Windows 10 over, say, Android or iOS is that the Emoji keyboard isn’t as easy to find. In fact, until recently there wasn’t one. Now though pressing the Windows key and semicolon (or full stop/period) will bring up the Emoji keyboard. This only works on US English currently.
Microsoft had a task switcher in Vista that I adored, it cascaded all your open windows on-screen with Aero Glass. But Aero is dead, because those styles lost traction to “flat” UI designs, which Windows 10 has gone to town on.
However there are two task switchers now, and both operate a little differently.
Alt + tab is a classic switcher, it simply brings up the windows open on a display and tapping tab will move you through them on step at a time. It’s decent, but not designed for multiple displays or desktops.
Win + tab is Windows 10 specific. It allows you to switch between all of the apps open on your machine. So it shows on all connected monitors and the apps will be available on the screen they’re currently attached to.
If you’re a user of multiple desktops the bottom of the screen shows all running screens and allows you to switch between them. If you’re in an office environment multi-desktops can really help with productivity.
Additionally, hit the middle mouse button – the wheel, usually – and you can close any window in either of these modes. This one also works across the Windows 10 OS as a whole.
Start favourite apps fast
I don’t pin apps to the Start bar usually, but there’s one very good reason to do so. Pressing Win + 1, 2, 3, etc will start those apps. So if you have Firefox pinned first, then Win + 1 will open it. If you have some apps you use a lot, but don’t leave running, this is a great way to get in and out of things fast.
Error messages can be copied and emailed with ease
How many of us have wanted to record what’s in an error message so we can either search for a solution or send it to a support person? When a dialogue box appears in Windows 10 you can hit control + c and the text in the error or status message will be copied to the clipboard, from there you can paste it into an email or support chat.
Multilingual users rejoice
If you type in more than one language hit that Windows key and the spacebar and you can switch between all your installed language packs. Users not in the US can use this as a way to get the Emoji keyboard up until MS adds support to other languages.
Get out of trouble fast
Sometimes Windows gets itself in a knot. When this happens you can press Win + D to take you back to the desktop. It’s a really good way of getting out of a lot of apps that take your PC into a fullscreen mode. You can also use Win + M to minimise, but showing the desktop has always been my favourite Windows shortcut.