IT Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts

By Howard Miles, IT Manager

Microsoft Windows and Google Mail both have a large number of keyboard shortcuts available for use. These shortcuts can save you time and effort, especially if you find yourself moving between the keyboard and mouse and performing repetitive mouse clicks.

The shortcuts won’t completely eliminate the need for a mouse or other pointing device, but they can cut down on hand movements between the devices, thereby saving you time.

The following lists are not exhaustive, but are the shortcuts that you are probably more likely to use.

Windows General Keyboard Shortcuts

Display help

Ctrl + c
Copy the selected item

Ctrl + x
Cut the selected item

Ctrl + v
Paste the selected item

Ctrl + z
Undo an action

Ctrl + y
Redo an action

Delete (or Ctrl +d)
Delete the selected item and move it to the recycle bin

Shift + Delete
Permanently delete the selected item, skipping the recycle bin

Rename the selected item

Ctrl + right arrow
Move to the beginning of the next word

Ctrl + left arrow
Move to the beginning of the previous word

Ctrl + down arrow
Move to the beginning of the next paragraph

Ctrl + up arrow
Move to the beginning of the previous paragraph

Ctrl + Shift + arrow
Select a block of text

Shift + arrow
Select more than one item, or select text within a document

Ctrl + a
Select all items


Alt + Enter
Display properties for the selected item

Alt + F4
Close the active item, or exit the program

Alt + Spacebar
Open the shortcut menu for the active window

Ctrl + F4
Close the active document

Alt + Tab
Switch between open items

Shift + F10
Display the shortcut menu for the selected item

Ctrl + Esc
Open the Start menu

Alt + underlined letter
Display the corresponding menu or perform the menu command

Activate the menu bar

Right arrow
Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu

Left arrow
Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu

F5 (or Ctrl + r)
Refresh the active window

Cancel the current task

Ctrl + Shift + Esc
Open Task Manager

Windows logo key shortcuts

These shortcuts use the Windows logo key

Open or close the Start menu

Logo + d
Display the desktop

Logo + m
Minimize all windows

Logo + Shift + m
Restore minimized windows

Logo + e
Open computer (Windows Explorer)

Logo + L
Lock your computer

Logo + r
Open the Run dialog box

Logo + up arrow
Maximize the window

Logo + down arrow
Minimize the window

Logo + Home
Minimize all but the active window

Google Mail shortcuts

In Google Mail some of the shortcuts will not work unless you turn on shortcuts in settings. To turn them on, open your mail account, click on the gear in the upper right, click settings, scroll down to “Keyboard shortcuts,” select “Keyboard shortcuts on,” scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes.”

Previous message in an open conversation

Next message in an open conversation

Ctrl + Enter

Ctrl + Shift + c
Add cc recipients

Ctrl + Shift + b
Add bcc recipients

Ctrl + k
Insert a link

Ctrl + m
Open spelling selections

Ctrl + Shift + –
Decrease text size

Ctrl + Shift + +
Increase text size

Ctrl + b

Ctrl + i

Ctrl + u

Ctrl + Shift + 7
Numbered list

Ctrl + Shift + 8
Bulleted list

Ctrl + Shift + 9

Ctrl + [
Indent less

Ctrl + ]
Indent more

Ctrl + Shift + L
Align left

Ctrl + Shift + r
Align right

Ctrl + Shift + e
Align center

Ctrl + \
Remove formatting

Select conversation


Report as spam



Reply all


Undo last action

Shift + i
Mark as read

Shift + u
Mark as unread

= or +
Mark as important

Mark as not important

Expand entire conversation

Collapse entire conversation

G + i
Go to inbox

G + s
Go to starred conversations

G + t
Go to sent messages

G + d
Go to drafts

G + a
Go to All Mail

G + c
Go to contacts

G + k
Go to tasks


Compose in a new tab

Open “more actions” menu

Open “move to” menu

Open “label as” menu

Other apps

Most applications have their own set of shortcuts. For example, the calculator app that is included in Windows has 5 pages of shortcuts specific to itself. And in most applications some combination of keys including the question mark (such as ctrl + ?) will bring up help, just like pressing the F1 key in Windows.