Nifty Keyboard Shortcuts and Why I Love The “Window Key”

Welcome to Techie Tuesday here at More Cowbell! This is the day each week when I unleash my inner geek and we talk about some groovy piece of technology or a technical point of writing.

Many of you know that I’ve been a software trainer for almost two decades. (Yeah, yeah…I wonder how so much time passed too.)

My favorite part of my day job is watching how excited people get when some nifty trick makes their lives easier. The excitement is contagious and it makes my job really fun.

A while back I was on Twitter when my pal, Julie Glover, sent me the following tweet:

@Julie_Glover: @JHansenWrites OMG! I just found out that WindowsLogo + L locks my laptop & there are other nifty Logo+ functions. Have you posted on that?

I told her that although I hadn’t YET posted it, I certainly would, just for her.

Note: I’ve got a gift for my Mac pals too, later in this post!

Just to keep us all on the same page, the “Window key” on a Windows keyboard is usually on the left side of the Spacebar, next to the Alt key. (It looks like the picture to the right, but in black and white.)

On the other side of the the Spacebar, next to the Alt key, on a Windows keyboard is what’s called the “Right Mouse Shortcut Key.” If you hit it at any time, the right mouse menu for what you’re doing will appear. I love it!

So, Julie, in honor of you…here are my favorite Window key shortcuts:

    • Window (Win) key on it’s own: Displays or hides the Start menu
    • Win+BREAK: (usually “break” is in the upper right) opens the System Properties
    • Win+D: Displays the desktop, no matter where you are
    • Win+M: Minimizes all of the windows
    • Win+Shift+M: Restores the minimized windows
    • Win+E: Opens “My Computer” window
    • Win+F: Opens Windows’ Search for a file or a folder
    • Win+F1: Displays Windows Help (Remember the F1 key does this in programs)
    • Win+ L: Locks your computer
    • Win+R: Opens the “Run” dialog box

I’d like to elaborate on those last two shortcuts for a minute so you understand their magic.

Window key + “L” (you don’t type the “+” or the quotes) is what I use at work when I walk away from my computer. It’s a quick way to enforce your computer’s password. No one can start working on that computer again until they type in the password. Since I work in an accounting firm, this is important.

For those of you without a password on your computer (or at least on your computer account), I’m curious as to why not. You have a door on your house, right? You probably keep valuable or confidential items there. 

I know that for many of you, your kids are your tech support team, but go with me a moment here.

  • You own the computer and it likely holds financial data you’d like to protect.
  • You’d also like to limit, particularly for younger children, the ability to download.
  • In today’s world, you want to know every place your children go on the computer.
  • You want to make sure your children cannot lock you out of your own computer.

 I’m sure some of you will argue with me about this in the comments section, and swear to me that your computer’s smarter than you are, but I’m going to respectfully disagree.

Your computer is stupid and you can learn to boss it around.

What about the last shortcut, Window key + R? What is  the “Run” dialog box? The tech guys in your life use it to get to the “Command Line” where they do nifty DOS stuff.

I use it to open applications like Microsoft Word or my Calculator quickly. I hate to have to browse through three menus to open my Calculator so I go to “Win + R” and type “calc.” It opens right up! Or I type “winword” to open Word or “excel” to open Excel.

Easy peasy!

I understand that this post might leave some of my Mac pals a bit worried…

Fear not! Here are some of the most important buttons on a Windows keyboard, and their equivalents on a Mac keyboard:

Mac key – Windows key

  • Control – Ctrl
  • Option – Alt
  • Command (the four leaf clover) – Windows
  • Delete – Backspace
  • Return – Enter

Did you know all these shortcuts? Do you have other favorites you’d like to share? Like Julie, do you have tech questions you want to have me answer in my Techie Tuesday posts? Enquiring minds always  want to know these things here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
This entry was posted in Techie Tuesday, Technology Fun and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Nifty Keyboard Shortcuts and Why I Love The “Window Key”

  1. Woot! A way to get to a the calculator.

    And, to the dialog box, which is (sadly) most often used when I want my stepson to take control of my computer to get me out of a jam.

    Take that Huey P. ACKard. Thanks (as always), Jenny.


  2. Ryan King says:

    Mustn’t forget about Win+Tab to change active windows. 😉


  3. Laura Drake says:

    OMG, Jenny, Win+D is my new toy! Thanks so much!


  4. Julie Glover says:

    This giving a whole new meaning to “I’m WINning!” I’m now in love with Win+E and Win+F. I have already used Win+L more times than I can count in a public place where locking my computer in a microsecond comes in super-handy. (Have I told you that you’re awesome lately?!!)

    Thanks so much for the great tips, Jenny. I feel SO special that you did a whole post from my tweeted question. I hope others benefit from the information. I know I sure have!


  5. I’ve been using the Win + L for awhile and I love the Win+E for quick access to files but had NO idea about the RUN option – woot woot – that will definitely come in handy.


  6. Awesome! Very helpful tips. Loving your techie tuesday posts. 🙂


  7. K.B. Owen says:

    This is cool stuff, Jenny! I never paid any attention to either the Windows button or that rectangle-thingy-with-the-arrow, LOL. I was just happy to stumble around without crashing anything! But this is super-FAB! As the mom to three boys, all of whom are computer-preoccupied, I totally agree that a password-lock on your computer is absolutely essential. Even without kids, really. So this lock thing basically will give me the login window when I want to come back to it? That’s really handy, without having to go through the laborious sign-out, sign-in, because even when I close my laptop, standby mode doesn’t require a login when I open it back up again. (I know, there’s probably a setting for that, but I’m too lazy to hunt it down). 😀

    By the way, hubster and I are BIG fans of the time restriction capability of Windows 7 (maybe it was available earlier; we only discovered it with our new desktop computer). You can go into your kids’ logons and block/unblock certain time grids, in one-hour increments and per day of the week. It’s SO easy now to enforce limits on their computer time; the computer gives a couple-minute advance warning that shut-down is coming up, and then – poof! – they are off. We can easily make adjustments in the control panel, if needed.

    Thanks for the fab tips!


  8. amyshojai says:

    Awesome sauce! (who did I steal that from?…) And the “lock” function works great for households with cats (or other critters) intent on keyboard-surfing.


  9. I’ve pinned my calculator to my task bar, LOL. Love the lock feature and I use that all the time on my laptop, which is my work computer. The wee beasties only have access to the desktop and they have limited accounts, only my admin account can download.

    After reading Kathy’s comment I really want to get Windows 7 on that monster! Oh the fights it would stop…

    Fab post, as always, Jenny 🙂


  10. So the computer is stupid, and I can outsmart it? Hmmm. Maybe, someday. But I got my first smartphone the other day (I know, I’m a decade behind everyone else), and I’m sure I’ll never outsmart it. Can we just slow this technology crap down a bit, please.

    I’m gonna put your WIN tips somewhere for reference. Just hope I’ll remember where I put them.


  11. Karen McFarland says:

    Since we now live away from our kids, I am on my own with this techie stuff. So Jenny, I am saving this in my word documents because I won’t remember this. LOL! But thank you for putting all this together for us! 🙂


  12. Debra Eve says:

    Nice post, Jenny! I’ve made a point of learning all the Microsoft Office shortcuts, but didn’t know about all these Windows ones. Thanks.


  13. Calisa Rhose says:

    I hope you do more posts like this one! But I have a PC and neither my manual keyboard nor laptop keyboard has a ‘break’ button. Not only that, when I hit the right window key it does the same thing as the left (opens the start menu or Lock my pc when used +L). Is there a F key that does the same thing? I often hit two keys erroneously and once it turned my monitor display on end! Talk about panicked- and hard to read. lol Thanks to my little brother who looked my laptop up on google and gave me the combination of keys to spin it back right! No, I don’t remember which keys, but it is ctrl+alt+a number sequence- hard to do on a laptop since you also need to hold the function key down at the same time if you don’t have a manual keyboard plugged in.


  14. Wow Jenny! I had no idea. Now I feel smart. Thanks! ((((BIG HUGS))))


  15. Catherine Johnson says:

    Wow, that is so helpful, thanks Jenny!


  16. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    I have a Mac now and still bumble my way through daily. Am biding my time until Punkin (almost 10 months) turns 5, and I figure by then he’ll know way more than I do about techie stuff. He’ll be my personal advisor! LOL!


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