Let’s face it: Windows 10 is a hodgepodge of garish tiles and goofy icons. It’s like a kid playing dress-up on costume day.
On the one hand, Microsoft has made substantive improvements to the operating system. Windows 10 is spunky, nimble and secure. And it’s so amazing Microsoft skipped over 9 so everyone would forget about all the deprecating thoughts we held about Windows 8.
But on the other hand it’s still hard to get around. Where do you go to get things done? Google? Yes, but today I wanted to show you 6 tricks, actually 6 shortcuts, that can improve your experiencing as you go clicking through the labyrinth known as Windows 10. Most of these shorties also work in older versions of Windows but I included them anyway because… well I can do that since I’m the one blogging right? haha.
Let’s jump in baby!
1. Lock and load
Windows Key + L
There’s an adage that says “Experience is the best teacher”. Well, allow me to modify that by saying “Other peoples experience is the best teacher”.
Let me tell you a story so you know what I mean. My first real job out of college was working for a small internet security company in Atlanta named Internet Security Systems. I loved it because of the fraternal atmosphere. Most of my co-workers graduated from Georgia Tech and were so incandescent that I felt like I was getting smarter just being in their presence.
It was great.
I learned a lot – but one of the chief things I learned was to never, ever, under any circumstances leave your box unlocked. Being the n00b that I was, one day I stepped away to use the restroom but when I returned I noticed everyone in my cube looked abashed and flustered. There was a also a subtle stream of laughter in the air. Bemused, I walked back to my box and show an email sent out as me saying something too embarrassing to mention here. Anyway, to say I was chagrined was an understatement.
So the moral of my story is to learn from my experience – lock your box.
2. WTF is the Settings App?
Windows Key + i
I can almost feel the animosity you feel with the Settings app. It probably feels like committing adultery on the Control Panel.
I was married to the Control Panel in Windows 7. I loved her! She was the best! And then Windows 10 steps into my life and foists this vapid app in my face and says “Here, love this now”.
I know a few die hard Windows 10 fans who can make a cogent case for the Settings app. There’s less clutter than the control panel. The UI is flat, modern and so 2015. It feels like the future right? Well here’s my rejoinder:
I don’t care – the Control Panel made me feel like I was in control. Everything I needed was in one place and I knew exactly how to get things done.
Well, the good news is the Control Panel is still there (I’ll show you how to get there a little later). In addition, the Settings App isn’t all that bad. The interface is Mr. Clean clean. Now that’s clean. Also, if you click in the search box and start typing the results will filter dynamically with each keystroke.
3. eXtremely helpful
Windows Key + x
Alright, so I’m not going to make you ferret out all the secret menus buried in Windows 10. No, that would be cruel and besides, I’ve already exhumed the best gems for you in this article so relax… I’ve got you covered.
I’m about to share a moment that you’ll never forget: Windows Key + x, and if you say it 10 times fast it sounds a little scandalous. This should leave an indelible print in your mind.
Windows + x is flush with everything you need to feel at home in Windows 10. You’ve got your Run box. You’ve got your Control Panel. You’ve got your Control Panel. Heck you even have System. It’s all there. It’s like walking through a vineyard and filching the best grapes.
Windows Key + x is replete with all your favorite commands – all in one place – all for you. Smile.
4. Instantly clear your desk
Windows Key + d
I want you to take a moment to live vicariously through my squeegee clean desktop. This amazing photo was captured by Dominic Kamp at interfacelift.com.
This is what Windows Key + d does to your life. It purges the dross. It washes away the clutter. It gives you a moment to breathe again.
The next time your desktop is teaming with browsers, apps and files – take your thumb and mash the Windows Key and then, in slow motion for dramatic effect, take your index finger and press the d key.
Then invite your colleagues over for a quick powwow about your gorgeous desktop. When the gushing abates, press Windows Key + d to dive back into the chaos.
5. Spawn multiple desktops!
Windows Key + Tab
Oh, is it nothing other than the beatific Task View!
Task View is the bizzzzomb diggy. Just press the Windows Key + tab and watch the desktop dim as if the User Account Control window were about to popup. But instead, oh instead of that annoying box, you get the “New desktop” button nestled in the bottom right corner of the screen” New Desktop isn’t ostentatious like the Start Button. Nope, but don’t confuse her soft and demur personality lead you to think she can’t get the job done. Click on New Desktop and you’ll start spawning desktops faster than a super villain can spawn clones of himself.
Mac OS X and Linux users have been using TaskView-esq functionality since the dawn of time but now finally – finally my friend – we get to join the multi-desktop, multi-work-spaces train too. It’s just one more reason to be sanguine with Microsoft’s ability to listen to user feedback. You guys wanted this and Microsoft delivered on this one.
Tip: to switch between multiple desktops use Windows Key + Ctrl + Right Arrow. It’s like Alt + Tab on steroids baby!
6. Get your grid on
Windows Key + Right Arrow + Up Arrow
I’m a skinny guy. While most people in the world wish they could lose weight, I’m eating everything I can find to gain weight. I wouldn’t say that I’m so skinny that I look cadaverous and I’m certainly not emaciated but I’m pretty damn bony. More so then I would like. So what the heck does that have to do with this last shortcut?
I just wanted to throw that out there. I’m in a weird mood right now – haha – anyway, here is the best shortcut – especially if you have a 27inch monitor or larger. You can stash each window into each corner and have a 2 x 2 grid of productivity.
This is how I pulled this off: click the first window to give it focus and then press and hold the Windows Key while you press the right arrow. This moves flexs your amorphous window to take up the right half of the screen. Now while still holding down the Windows Key press the up arrow and it’ll pop into the upper right corner of your screen. Now select the next Window, move it to to the right-half of the screen but this time press the down arrow to plop it in the bottom right corner. Keep doing this dance and you’ll end up with a fine 2 x 2 grid!
The Bottom Line
Windows 10 is chock full of shortcuts that will surely save you lots of time. Here’s the hit list:
- Windows Key + L to lock your box
- Windows Key + i for the Settings Panel
- Windows Key + x for the Super hidden menu
- Windows Key + d to clear your desktop; press it again to bring all your windows back.
- Windows Key + tab to create multiple virtual desktops
- Windows Key + Ctrl + Right + Up to get your grid on
So that’s it! I hope this article was helpful for you.
Do you know of any shortcuts that I should have mentioned? Let me know in the comments below! Leave a comment!