The computer mouse is indispensible. Without it, one would have to tediously move windows, select buttons, and “click” using the keyboard. It is very hard to imagine a modern computer that completely lacks a mouse. For certain tasks, a combination of keyboard shortcuts and the mouse can yield significant speed and convenience benefits.

A word on notation: when two keys are separated by a ‘-‘ character, they should be pressed down together. The first key in the sequence (usually ALT, SHIFT, or CTRL) should be pressed down and held first, and then the second key is depressed.

The Shortcuts

Shortcut Result
CTRL-C/X/V Copy, Cut, and Paste to and from the clipboard, respectively.
CTRL-Z Undo previous action.
ALT-TAB Switch between currently open windows. Hold ALT while tapping TAB to cycle through all windows.
“Windows Key” OR CTRL-ESC Open the Start menu.
CTRL-N Create a new file, browser window, etc. Performs the “New” action for the currently focused application.
CTRL-O Open an existing file.
CTRL-W Close the current window or tab, keeping the application open if possible.
ALT-F4 Terminate current application (equivalent to quit)
TAB Skip to the next field in a form or dialog box.
SHIFT-TAB Move to the previous field in a form or dialog box.

There are many more such shortcuts present in all of your favorite applications. The next time you find yourself performing a reptitive task, pay attention to the menus. Usually keyboard shortcuts are displayed next to the menu items. For more advanced tasks, some applications allow the recording of macros, or even the creation of custom programs (MS Office XP is an example).

For additional information, check out the Microsoft Support article on keyboard shortcuts.