AbilityNet Factsheet - May 2023

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

This factsheet highlights some of the actions you can carry out quickly on your computer by using key combinations rather than using the mouse to navigate menus and options. These key combinations are referred to as shortcuts as they are often a much quicker way of carrying out tasks. They can also be particularly useful for repetitive actions.

Last updated: May 2023

1. What are shortcuts

This factsheet looks at using keyboard shortcuts instead of navigating menus using the mouse, which is often a more efficient means of interacting with your computer and can reduce the risk of repetitive movements.

The following pages highlight some of the basic keyboard shortcuts along with the guidelines for you to explore additional shortcuts available in the programs you use or the tasks you carry out.

Full lists of keyboard shortcuts are available in the Help facility of the programs you use; this can be accessed by pressing the F1 (shortcut) key on your keyboard.

A note on Apple (Mac) computers

Although there are some keyboard shortcuts that are the same on Macbooks or iMacs, Macs have their own set of keyboard shortcuts. A list of these shortcuts is maintained on the on the Apple website.

If you have any difficulties using the keyboard, such as

  • pressing keys down so that you get a string of characters on screen
  • brushing other keys by mistake and getting unwanted characters on screen
  • can only press down one key at a time

AbilityNet’s free online resource My Computer My Way will explain how you can adjust your computer to make it easier to use and reduce the impact of these sorts of issues.

There is also a factsheet on Keyboard and Mouse Alternatives.

2. Conventions

The plus ‘+’ key in these instructions means ‘and’



Ctrl + P

This means: Press and hold the Control key, and whilst holding it down press and release the key.

 + E

Press and hold the Windows key (normally located in the bottom left-hand of the keyboard, next to the Alt key), and whilst holding it down press and release the E key.

Ctrl + Alt + Del

Press and hold the Control key and the Alt key and whilst holding them down, press and release the Delete key.

3. Navigating Within Windows Using the Keyboard


  • Press Alt plus the underlined letter of the menu name to jump there (i.e. Alt + F would jump you to the File menu.) On newer versions of Microsoft Office, pressing the Alt key will present you with letters and numbers on the menu items to help you navigate to the option you want.
  • With drop-down menus, you can press the underlined letter of the item you want to jump to or use the arrows to choose an item and then press enter (↵) to select it.
  • Use the arrow keys to access sub menus.
  • Pressing Alt + space will display the window menu, where you can minimise, maximise and close the window.
  • The Start menu can be accessed by pressing the Windows logo key  or by pressing Ctrl + Esc.

Dialog Boxes

  • Like menus, pressing Alt and the underlined item of the item on the menu will jump to it.
  • You can also press Tab to select each item in a dialog box in turn.
  • To view the contents of a drop-down list, press Alt + down arrow or just down arrow to scroll through the list.
  • For radio buttons or checkboxes, use the arrow keys to move through the list and press the space bar to select or deselect.

4. Opening Programs (Windows 11)

  • Press the Windows logo key . The start menu will appear, and the cursor will jump to the search box:
  • Either:
    • Begin typing the name of the program you want. Windows will begin searching as you type and will show a number of options (that will narrow down the more you type) When you see the name of the program you want, you can use the up and down arrows to select it and press enter to open it once selected.
  • Or:
    • Use the up and down arrows to scroll through the full list of installed programs and press enter when you have selected the program you want.

Assigning shortcuts to launch programs (Older versions of Windows)

  • On the Start menu, find the program you want to create a shortcut key for and, with it selected, press Shift + F10 to display the context menu, and then R to display the properties for that item.
  • Press K to jump to the shortcut key box.
  • Press the key you want associated with this shortcut. Whatever key you select will be shown prefixed with Ctrl + Alt meaning that the shortcut key has been set to Ctrl + Alt + the key you selected.
  • Use this key combination to start this program whenever you like.

Windows Explorer

  • You can access the Windows file explorer (Windows Explorer) by pressing Windows logo key  + E
  • Use the arrow keys to move up and down in the list of folders or files.
  • The right and left arrow keys will expand or collapse a group of folders.
  • Press Tab to jump between the folder list on the left, the folder contents on the right and the main menu options.
  • Within an item selected, you can press F2 to rename a file.
  • F3 will jump to a search box that you can type in.
  • Alt + Enter will display the properties for the selected file or folder.
  • Enter will open the selected file or folder.
  • Ctrl + C will copy the file or folder.
  • Ctrl + X to cut the file or folder.
  • Ctrl + V to paste a file or folder.

Common Program Shortcuts

  • Ctrl + S will save the document or file you are working on
  • Ctrl + P will print the document or file you are working on
  • Ctrl + N will open a new document or file in the program you are working in

5. Manipulate Text Using the Keyboard

Moving the Cursor

  • Use the arrow keys to move the cursor up, down, left or right, one character at a time.
  • Use Ctrl + left or right arrow keys to move one word at a time.
  • Use Ctrl + up or down arrow keys to move up or down a paragraph at a time.
  • Ctrl + home will move you to the beginning of a document and Ctrl + end will take you to the end of a document.
  • Ctrl + pageup (PgUp) and Ctrl + pagedown (PgDn) will move you up or down a page a time, respectively.

Selecting Text

  • Hold down Shift and use left or right arrow keys to select one letter at a time.
  • Use Shift and the up and down arrow keys to select one line at a time.
  • Use Ctrl + Shift + left or right arrow keys to select whole words a time.
  • Shift + Ctrl + up or down arrow keys to select a paragraph at a time.
  • Ctrl + A will select All the text in the document.

Cutting, Pasting & Copying

When cutting, copying and pasting, the information is stored in the memory on your computer in something called the ‘clipboard’. This makes whatever you are copying available to other programs, so you can, for example, ‘copy’ something from a webpage and ‘paste’ it into an email or document.

  • Ctrl + C will copy a selection to the clipboard
  • Ctrl + X will cut a selection to the clipboard.
  • Use Ctrl + V to paste the clipboard contents back in at the cursor insertion point.


With the text selected:

  • press Ctrl + B to make text Bold.
  • Ctrl + I to make text Italic.
  • Ctrl + U to Underline.
  • Ctrl + L will justify (line up the sentences) to the left, Ctrl + R will justify right and Ctrl + E will centre the selection\paragraph.
  • Ctrl + [ will reduce text size and Ctrl + ] will increase text size.

6. Reference Chart




Cycles through all controls on a dialog box, 

Ctrl + tab

Cycles through the different pages on a tabbed dialog box

Alt +

Activates the menu represented by , where is the underlined letter in the menu title i.e. File would be alt + F

Alt + tab

Cycles through all open programs or windows. Keeping Alt held down, press Tab to advance to the next program and release both keys to switch to the selected program.

Ctrl + escape

Displays the start menu

Shift + F10

Displays the context (right mouse button) menu

Alt + space

Displays the Window menu (allows you to minimise, maximise and restore a window)

Alt + Enter

Displays the properties for the selected item

Alt + F4

Closes the active window

Ctrl + F4

Closes the active document within an application


Ctrl + S

Save current document or file

Ctrl + P

Print current document or file

Ctrl + N

Open New document in the active program


Windows Key + D

Minimises all programs and displays the desktop

Windows Key + M

Minimises all open programs

Windows Key + E

Opens a new explorer window

Windows Key + F

Displays the Windows search dialog box

Windows Key + U

Displays the Windows utility manager dialog box for controlling accessibility options.

Arrow keys

Working with text, this will move the cursor in the direction pressed. If in Windows Explorer, will move through list of files or folders.

Ctrl + arrow key

Working with text, this will move the cursor one word at a time, left and right, or a paragraph at a time up and down.

Shift + arrow key

Working with text, this will select one letter at a time in the direction pressed. Use with ctrl to select whole words at a time.

Ctrl + C 

Copy selection to the clipboard 

Ctrl + X 

Cut a selection to the clipboard.

Ctrl + V 

Paste the clipboard contents wherever the cursor is active.


Ctrl + B

Make text bold

Ctrl + I

Make text Italic (Italicise)

Ctrl + U

Underline Text


Ctrl + L

Justify text left

Ctrl + R

Justify text right

Ctrl + E

Justify text centrally

Ctrl + [ 

Reduce text size 

Ctrl + ] 

Increase text size 

7. Autocorrect as a shortcut

Autocorrect is a feature in Microsoft Office programs that correct common typos or replace text-based symbols such as (c), to the proper symbol ©, for example. You can also use the autocorrect options to add your own ‘custom corrections’ for example ‘YF’ for ‘Yours faithfully’.

To add your own options:

  1. Go to ‘File’ – ‘Options’ – ‘Proofing’ and click the ‘AutoCorrect Options…’ button.
  2. In the ‘Replace’ box, type the ‘shortcut’ you want to use.
    NOTE: It is a good idea to precede your shortcut with a symbol or something that distinguishes it from instances where you might want to use the letter combination (eg ‘/YF’ rather than just ‘YF’)
  3. In the ‘With:’ box, type the full version that you want written when you type your shortcut

Quickparts and Autotext

‘Quick Parts’ and ‘Autotext’ are more advanced versions of autocorrect that allow you to store paragraphs of text complete with formatting. You can also assign shortcuts to these blocks of text that enable you to quickly reuse them.


8. How AbilityNet can help you

My Computer My Way

My Computer My Way is an AbilityNet run website packed with articles explaining how to use the accessibility features built into your computer, tablet or smartphone. The site is routinely updated as new features and changes are made to the Windows, MacOS, iOS, Chrome OS and Android operating systems. The site is broken down into the following sections:

  • Vision – computer adjustments to do with vision and colour
  • Hearing – computer adjustments to do with hearing, communication and speech
  • Motor – computer adjustments to do mobility, stamina and dexterity
  • Cognitive – computer adjustments to do with attention, learning and memory

Use it for free at mcmw.abilitynet.org.uk

Advice and information

If you have any questions please contact us at AbilityNet and we will do all we can to help.

  • Call: 0300 180 0028
    Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls.
  • Email: enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

IT support at Home

If you’re looking for in-person support, you can book a free visit from one of our disclosure-checked volunteers. Many of our volunteers are former IT professionals who give their time to help older people and people with disabilities to use technology to achieve their goals. Our friendly volunteers can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones.



Copyright information

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