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Don't Forget Them! 20 Essential Windows 7 Shortcut Keys

Windows Shortcuts are an essential add-on if you are looking to dramatically improve your efficiency when working. This is especially true on laptops where the acres of space available on your desk for your computer is reduced to the few square inches of a touchpad.

Microsoft has introduced a few keyboard shortcuts with Windows 7 and we've thrown in a few of the most useful ones which will save you a few precious minutes every day and make life a little bit better without the mouse (or the touchpad).

And before you asked, yes, we did go through ALL the relevant key combination on our keyboard to compile that list.

The combination of the Windows Button & ...

(1) numbers (1 to 9) above the QWERTY row (not the keypad) will launch up to 9 applications located on your taskbar. Hence pressing on Windows + 1 should launch Internet Explorer by default and doing the same operation again will minimise the IE Window.

(2) T : Highlights items in the taskbar in a cycle, in a way similar to Ctrl + Tab.

(3) M : Will minimise all active Applications

(4) P : Will open up the Display Switcher applet. It is likely however that your laptop already comes with a similar application.

(5) R : Will open the "Run" menu box.

(6) F : Will launch the search menu

(7) X : Will start the Mobility Center

(8) L : Locks down your desktop or laptop

(9) U : Opens the Accessibility Center

(10) E : Will open Windows Explorer and as many as you wish

(11) D : Shows the desktop or hides it

(12) B : Focus moves to the first icon on the left of the notification tray.

(13) + or - : Activates the Magnifier applet to follow, zoom and literally follow your mouse cursor. "+" or "-" zooms in and out of the area being investigated.

(14) Spacebar : Makes windows transparent but doesn't minimise them. You will have to get Aero enabled first, otherwise, it doesn't work.

(16) Alone : Opens the "start" menu. The same can be done using Ctrl+Esc.

(17) Pause : Opens System Properties menu.

(18) Left Arrow, Right Arrow : Basically cycles the active application window through align to left, right and whatever state the window is when you press on the "restore down" button. In addition, pressing on the "shift" button will move the current window across dual monitor setups; we're not sure whether that works on three or more monitors.

(19) Tab : Navigates through all open Windows using a nifty, visually appealing way called Flip 3D.

(20) Alt + P in Windows Explorer turns on (or off) the Preview Pane.

(21) Home : Minimises or restores every running application except the current window.

There are also loads of other shortcut keys for Windows that can make life significantly simpler, Alt+F4 to close an application, the Ctrl key combinations - A for all (example all files on the desktop), S for save, C, X, V and Z for Copy, Cut, Paste and Undo respectively. O for open, P for print, W for close (again) etc. Note that these may vary depending on the active application.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.