Windows 11 Tip: Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted on August 24, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 15 Comments

Using keyboard shortcuts is a key way to be more efficient while using Windows, and this is true on a number of levels, some of which aren’t immediately obvious. With Windows 11, most of the core keyboard shortcuts you know and love transition over, but there are some changes, and some new shortcuts too.

Before getting to those, let’s consider the efficiency angle.

There’s the obvious bit, where typing a keyboard shortcut—to open Start or File Explorer, to take (and save) a screenshot, or whatever—lets you perform an action without taking your hands off the keyboard as you work. This kind of thing is objectively more efficient, especially if you spend most of your time with your hands on the keys.

But there are other, less obvious, efficiencies to be had as well. In my book Windows 10 Field Guide, for example, I explain that hiding unnecessary taskbar entries like Search, Task View, Cortana, and more frees up space for the pinned apps you actually use every day. And if you know the keyboard shortcuts that launch these experiences, you can remove their taskbar entries without losing easy access to key functionality.

(You can and should also remove taskbar entries you will never use. For example, I always hide/remove People, Windows Ink Workspace, and Chat Now in Windows 10.)

Search is, perhaps, the best example. By default, the Search entry in the Windows 10 taskbar is a space-hogging search box. But that’s totally unnecessary: If you want to use Search, all you need to do is tap the WINKEY key on your keyboard and start typing. So getting rid of that superfluous search box gives you the most bang for your buck in taskbar space savings.

In Windows 11, these efficiencies carry forward. This system ships with superfluous Search, Task view, and Widgets icons that can all be safely removed since each has an associated keyboard shortcut. Search (WINKEY, start typing) and Task view (WINKEY + TAB) work as before, but Widgets … well, Widgets is new. You can type WINKEY + W to display the Widgets interface, even if its icon is not visible on the taskbar.

I’ve been investigating whether there are other new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 11, and while I’m not done with that yet, here are a few key examples:

Snap Layouts. If you mouse over the Maximize/Restore window button in any window’s title bar, you will see a new Snap Layouts flyout that displays the possible Snap window layouts you can use, based in part on your display’s orientation, resolution, and aspect ratio. But you don’t need to use a mouse to activate this feature: Just switch to the window in question (ALT + TAB or WINKEY + TAB) and then type WINKEY + Z.

Quick settings. Microsoft divided the Action Center from Windows 10 into two discrete UIs in Windows 11, Quick settings and Notifications/Calendar. And Quick settings picked up the old Action Center keyboard shortcut in Windows 11, which is WINKEY + A.

Notifications/Calendar. With notifications and the calendar flyouts now in its own UI, it needed a new keyboard shortcut. And it got one: WINKEY + N.

Chat. There’s a new Chat icon on the Windows 11 taskbar, which launches a simple front-end to Microsoft Teams. The good news? You don’t need it. Just type WINKEY + C to display the Chat window.

Are there other new/updated keyboard shortcuts in Windows 11? Yeah, probably. If you know of any, please let me know, as I’d like the Windows 11 Field Guide to be as accurate and useful as possible. Plus, I just want to know, as I use keyboard shortcuts all the time. And so should you.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Windows 11 Tip: Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts”

  1. retrodrone

    WINKEY + A activates the Taskbar Corner flyout, or whatever it's called.

  2. globexco

    Win + W opens up widgets. I presume no one will ever use this one though. ?


    And while not technically a new shortcut, they did remove the task manager from the start menu's right click, so if people don't know ctrl-shift-esc, they might want to commit that to memory.

    • lvthunder

      When did they do that? I right clicked on the start menu and accessed it there yesterday. They removed it from the taskbar like it was in Windows 10. Is that what you mean?

      • globexco

        Ever since I've been on Win 11, right clicking the taskbar only gives me item in the context menu: taskbar settings


        On Windows 10, I get a whole smorgasbord of items: toolbars, search, show task view button, lock the taskbar, task manager, etc...

      • globexco

        Oh, interesting. I see what you're saying. You just have to physically right click on the Windows Logo to get them! How about that? I had no idea.


        My apologies for the confusion. Old habits, I suppose.

    • crfonseca

      An hidden feature that I discovered by accident is if you have a touchscreen, you can also display the widgets if you swipe in from the left side of the screen.

      Also, dragging a window to the bottom of the screen no longer closes it (this was a thing in Windows 8, but it also works in Windows 10, not that Windows 10 ever tells you it also supports swipe gestures)

  3. wkriker

    I just could not leave this without trying. As you said some Shortcut Keys have been around for a long time like WIN+P, WIN+D and a few others. Not sure about the ones I have listed below, I found them by going over the Keyboard with only the WINKEY and one key on the keyboard.


    WIN+F – brings up the Feedback Hub but will not close it.

    WIN+X – brings up the Menu you get when Right Clicking the WINKEY Icon on the Taskbar - like this

    WIN+V – brings up the Clipboard in Windows but will not close it - I think I knew this but forgot it.

    WIN+U – brings up the Accessibility Window within Settings – will not close it

    WIN+I – brings up System within the Settings Window – will not close it

    WIN+H – to open the Dictation Toolbar – and will turn on and off the microphone

    WIN+K – will open the Cast Available Display Window

    WIN+M – Minimizes all open Windows but does not bring them back

    WIN+. – Brings up the Emoji Window

    WIN+Numerical Keys - begin opening items on the task bar starting on the left. In my case after the Chat Icon. You may have to experiment to determine the first item. My started with the 6th item in however the first 5 were WIN, Search, Task View, Widgets, and Chat. When I removed the Widgets Icon it started with the 5th one in from the left. For me this was Microsoft Edge Beta. 


    I am sure there are more using WIN+SHIFT+, or WIN+CTRL+ but some are too much to remember.


    Enjoy

    • hrlngrv

      | WIN+F – brings up the Feedback Hub but will not close it.


      Because the Feedback Hub is a full-fledged program/process rather than provided by Explorer as desktop shell.


      | WIN+M – Minimizes all open Windows but does not bring them back


      This one's odd because [Win]+D shows the desktop AND, er, unshows the desktop. FWIW, [Win]+[Shift]+M unminimizes everything. Me, I don't give a $#!* because [Win]+D is more than sufficient. If [Win]+M is there because min/restore differs between UWP and Win32 software, NBD for me since I don't use UWP software.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I was looking for new/changed keyboard shortcuts in Windows 11. :)

  4. hrlngrv

    Given some commenters have mentioned what MSFT removed from the taskbar's context menu, maybe useful to remind everyone that [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Esc] launches Task Manager, and when it doesn't, Task Manager appears in the [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Delete] menu.


    On a tangent, %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start still exists, and one may add keyboard shortcuts to any of the .LNK shortcuts in it.

  5. lvthunder

    Win+Shift+S Brings up the snipping tool.

    • chuckop

      Amazing to me is the fact that the Ease of Access option to associate the Print Screen key with the Snip and Sketch tool is not on by default. I never press WIN+Shift+S anymore, it's always Print Screen. Much easier.

  6. bbold

    It would be nice to see Microsoft release an app in it's store detailing these new keyboard shortcuts for Windows 11 users to help them integrate it into their workflow. Oh. That's right. I'm too ambitious for my own good.


    BB

    • hrlngrv

      Quite so. Why settle for anything as old fashioned as better offline documentation or help files when one could put unused free disk storage to use on multiple megabyte size apps providing static useful tips?

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