Productivity improvements

I find it troubling that people who work on computers all day long don't know how to quickly switch back to the previously used window, or how to skip forward in text one word at at time. Hence this page. There's a more complete list over keyboard shortcuts at Microsoft:

Copy and paste

Ctrl-C Copy to clipboard. Just like Edit->Copy from the menu.
Ctrl-X Cut to clipboard. Like Copy only removes whatever is marked.
Ctrl-V Paste from clipboard.
Ctrl-Z Undo.
Ctrl-Y Redo.

Choosing windows

Alt-TabQuickly changes focus to another open window. Alt-Tab returns focus to the previously chosen window. Alt-(Tab and Tab again) changes focus to the second most recently used window. So hold down Alt and click Tab as many times as you want to focus on the window you're looking for.

Text navigation

Ctrl-Left arrow In a text, move the cursor one word to the left.
Ctrl-Right arrow In a text, move the cursor one word to the right.
Home A built in key that moves the cursor to the beginning of the line.
End A built in key that moves the cursor to the end of the line.

It's really useful to use the Shift key to mark up text and cells in a spreadsheet program. Hold the the Shift key while moving the cursor and you will see the selection spreading.

There's a button with a Windows symbol(from Microsoft themselves: ) on most computer keyboards. Win for short. It's sometimes called a Super button. It can be used to quickly get the Windows operating system to do things.

Window movement and sizing

While writing this document I've used the four shortcuts below at least 20 times.

Win-M Minimize all windows, thus showing the desktop.
Win-Up arrow Maximize current window.
Win-Down arrow Demaximize current window.
Win-Left arrow Make current window half the width of the current display and place it on the left half.
Win-Right arrow Like the previous one only it places the window to the right. I'm writing this in Notepad++ which is placed on the right half of the screen and I have other windows set up on the left half of the screen.

Two windows.
Win-Left arrow makes the left half of the screen occupied by the chosen window.
Win-Right arrow and the second window gets the second half.

Windows Explorer

Win-E Explorer is the name of the file browser in Windows. Not to be confused with Internet Explorer!
Win-F Search the computer as a whole, rather than the current folder.

Explorer also has a built-in search function in the upper right hand corner of the window. Here I've searched for files with the word "Linux" in the title in the folder containing this website:

You can also type the name of an application into the address field to the left of the search field. That runs the application inside the current directory. I only ever use it to start the command line tool cmd but it still saves me plenty of time.

While in Explorer, arrow keys moves the cursor. You can also use Home, End and the Page up, Page down keys.

Enter Opens up whatever the cursor is highlighting.
Alt-Up arrow Moves you into the "parent" folder. So if you're in C:\Users\username\Documents and press Alt-Up arrow, you end up in C:\Users\username.
Alt-Left arrow Takes you back to the previously chosen folder.

Shift works in Explorer just like in a document. Hold down Shift while moving the cursor and you will select items which can then be copied, cut, pasted or deleted.

Tap the Win key and start typing the name of a program you want to run. It will automatically be written into a search field. I just tapped the Win key and wrote "gim" and the Gimp graphics program showed in the menu above:

Launching applications

I'm a big fan on the graphical user interface in Windows 7. Not least the activity bar in the bottom part of the screen. I've pinned Explorer, Google Chrome, Notepad++, Windows Console, Cygwin Terminal, Windows sound control and Sublime Text Editor to my activity bar. Thus I can launch Explorer by typing Win-1, Google Chrome with Win-2. Notepad++ with Win-3 and so on.


Some recommendatios on useful softare. I don't use all of them but I find a lot of people stuck with Windows Mail, unaware of Thunderbird being kind of like good old Outlook Express. Not everyone appreciates command line tools for data transfer so DropBox is in too.

  1. Google Docs : They call it Google Drive now but I still call it Google Docs. Awful from a confidentiality perspective but immensely useful. You only need a browser and can work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations from any computer. Plus you can work on the same document at the same time from different computers with an integrated chat window.
  2. DropBox : I don't use it but it is very handy to be able to get access to the same files on different computers. Just make sure you're not violating some company policy by uploading stuff to DropBox.
  3. Google Chrome : Google's web browser is fast, synchronizes settings and bookmarks across different computers you may use and consults lists of known sources for viruses and trojans to warn you against visiting harmful web sites. It's very useful that you can just type in a search query in the top address field and get Google suggestions show up in a drop-down list.
  4. Mozilla Thunderbird : Good email client. Better than Windows Mail but maybe not quite as good as Microsoft Outlook.
  5. Microsoft Office : Can't omit good old fashioned Microsoft Office. It's the default office suite of the world.
  6. LibreOffice : LibreOffice is perfectly equivalent to Microsoft Office for my uses and with it being free and cross-platform it's not a bad choice.
  7. FreeMind : Mind map software.
  8. Notepad++ : Notepad in Windows is quite useful but Notepad++ is more powerful, with tabs and column mode editing(like Emacs). Also consider SciTE. No need to open up Office Word to write down a few notes.
  9. Ant renamer : Need to rename more than two files? Ant renamer let's you rename however many files you want, but you have to give instructions on how to do it of course. Delete last five characters in the filename, change all spaces in filename to underscore, replace all occurrences of the word "draft" in lower case to "DRAFT" in upper case.


It's very neat to have your contacts, emails and documents available through your smartphone. Me being somewhat Google-centric, I have a giant Android-based Samsung phone. Google Mail and Google Drive are both hooked up to it. It's a pain to try to edit spreadsheets on it but just reading stuff isn't a problem. It also synchronizes contacts to my Google account.

Microsoft have their own variation. I believe Nokia is the premier supplier of Windows Phone right now. There is a neat tie-in with a company user management system, Office, Outlook and so on.