Update: I have now published a follow article on using windows speech recognition
The introduction of the GUI and the mouse into computing in early 80s revolutionised the computing experience at the time. Yet, the mouse is generally a teribly inefficient way of getting around a computer once you know how to do so without it. This article is intended to get you started in using your (Windows) PC without grabbing for the mouse every other second.
Also, if you’re suffering from any sort of computer related RSI issues, this post will help you with minimising use of the mouse and hopefully give your right (or left) shoulder a break. If you’re sitting in front of the computer 8 hours a day, chances are your body is suffering from RSI even if you don’t know it yet, especially if you have poor computer posture.
I’ve decided to try and ditch the mouse and get around my PC as much as possible using the keyboard. This post documents the shortcuts I have come across.
Note: this article is not meant to cover all shortcuts. Rather it highlights those I have found useful in addition to the more common ones I alread knew about such as Ctrl-S, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Alt-Tab and so on. A full list of Windows 7 shortcuts can be found by clicking on
Start -> Help and Support and then searching for “shortcuts“.
Note: in these shortcuts “Win” means pressing the key with the windows logo on it (usually next to the Alt key).
- Win + T
- Go to taskbar
- Win + B
- Go to system tray
- Win + #
- Display program in Taskbar. eg Win + 1 will display the first program in the taskbar (and open it if needed)
- Win + Shift + #
- Open program in Taskbar. As above, but opens a new instance of the program.
- Win + Alt + #
- Opens the context menu on the program in Taskbar (ie mimics right-click)
- Win + Left/Right Arrow key
- Move active window to left/right
- Win + Up/Down Arrow key
- Maximise, Restore and Minimize active window to left/right
- Win + Shift + Left/Right Arrow key
- On multiple monitor systems this moves the active window between windows
- Win + Space
- Show Desktop
- Win + D
- Toggles between Desktop and Open windows
- Win + +/-
- Zoom in and out
- Win + E
- Open explorer
This is all in relation to browsing the internet with Firefox.
Handy shortcuts for this plugin:
- . (DECIMAL)
- hide ids
- ALT + . (DECIMAL)
- turns plugin on/off
Handy configuration setting:
Set the keypad to always be used to type in an ID number. This means you can easily click a link or button whilst the cursor is in an input field. (Normally typing a number on the keypad would simply enter that number into the input field.)
I found using Thunderbird without a mouse quite straightforward by just using standard keys such as the arrow keys, delete, enter and so on. A few handy shortcuts though are:
- Toggles focus between right hand email folder pane, upper email list pane and lower email content pane
- Reply to current message
- Reply-all to current message
- Send message. I especially like the confirmation
message before sending as I have managed to hit Ctrl-Enter by accident in the passed.
Maintaining serveral servers across the world, I use Remote Desktop a lot. I generally find using the keyboard for RD reasonably straightforward, especially when the window is maximised. The only issue with that is that Alt-Tab cycles through the open windows on the remote server. So getting out of an RD connection with the keyboard is awkward if you don’t know how:
- Toggles RD window in and out of maximised state. When the window is not maximised, Alt-Tab will then work on your local computer not the remote server.