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9 awesome Windows hacks and tricks that'll make your life easier

Windows OS booting up on a Mac
(Image credit: Unsplash)

With so many people using Microsoft Windows in all its various forms worldwide, it's perhaps no surprise that there are a lot of tips, tricks, and hacks that you might not know about. 

Whether it's learning how to insert a checkbox in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Google Docs, how to insert a tick or a cross symbol in Microsoft Word or Excel, or how to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word, there are endless questions being asked about how to optimize Windows use.

Below, we've outlined nine of our best hacks and tricks to make Windows work better for you, and if you've got Windows 7 in particular, we've discussed 11 top tips and tricks to use to give that OS a boost.

1. Shake window to minimise

This is one of our favorites. If you click and drag a window, you can then give it a little shake - go on, try it! All the other windows you have open will instantly minimise, giving you a clutter-free workspace.

2. Deleting browser history made easy

screenshot of Chrome history settings

By using Ctrl + Shift + Del when in a web browser, you can get straight to your browsing history (Image credit: Future)

If you want to delete your browsing history, but don't want to go fishing through the settings on your browser, try hitting Ctrl + Shift + Del. That'll take you straight to the menu!

3. Highlight address bar

Speaking of browsers, ever try to highlight a long URL from the browser address bar to copy or delete it? Why bother? Instead just hit F6, and the URL will automatically highlight. Magic.

4. Forget Ctrl + Alt + Del

screenshot of Windows task manager

You can get to Task Manager quicker by using Ctrl + Shift + Esc (Image credit: Future)

Most people will press Ctrl + Alt + Del when their computer crashes, and then instantly open the task manager. Instead, try hitting Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the task manager directly. After all, if your computer's crashing, the fewer steps in the process the better. 

You can of course open the task manager by right-clicking on the task bar, but this method has a bit more of a sleight-of-hand feeling to it.

5. God mode

The Windows Master Control Panel, or "God Mode", is a shortcut to access all of the operating system's control panels from within a single folder. To create a such a shortcut, create a new folder on your desktop (or anywhere else) and rename it to:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

You can change the "GodMode" bit, but make sure the full-stop and the rest is the same. Once you've renamed it, the icon will change, and you'll have access to all Windows' most powerful features.

6. Entering file names into the command line

command line shown on a monitor

By dragging a file into the command line, you can save yourself typing the directory out (Image credit: Pixabay)

Once you've opened up DOS and are trying to execute a file, the most annoying thing is typing out the whole file directory: C: Libraries/Pictures etc.

Instead, try dragging the file directly into the command prompt, and the program will enter it for you. Simple!

7. Go straight to desktop

close up on a laptop keyboard and its windows key

The Windows button opens up another realm of shortcuts (Image credit: Unsplash)

Remember when Windows used to have a "Show desktop" icon on the taskbar? Well now it doesn't need to, because you can just hit Win + D. In case you don't know, the Win button is the one with the wavy Windows flag icon between the left Ctrl and Alt.

8. Rename many files at once

If you want to give a whole load of files the same name, select them all at once and click F2. Windows will append a (1) or a (2) to the end of each file name too, so you don't get confused.

9. Lock computer instantly

Windows 10 lockscreen

Quickly lock your laptop or PC with Win + L (Image credit: Future)

If you're leaving your laptop open around friends prone to changing your Facebook information for kicks, or if you just want to increase security on your PC, it's good to get into the habit of pressing Win + L every time you leave your desktop unattended.

This will revert your computer to its lock screen, meaning any pesky meddlers will have to know your password before they can post embarrassing statuses. Unlike logging out, it keeps all your windows and documents open, however.


Further reading on Windows

Got Windows, but don't want to use Office? Take a look at our guide to the best Microsoft Office alternatives, whether free, paid or online. We've also listed our top picks for the best email client on Windows, and the best Windows 10 antivirus.

If you're interested in Microsoft Remote Desktop, we've also covered how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection for any remote access needs. Microsoft cloud storage comes in multiple forms, and we've reviewed Microsoft OneDrive to see if it ranks among the best cloud storage providers.

Finally, we've covered our 10 best features of Microsoft 365 for small businesses, and pitted Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace.

Paul has worked as an archivist, editor and journalist, and has a PhD in the cultural and literary significance of ruins. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine, and he was previously Staff Writer and Journalist at ITProPortal.

With contributions from