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Learning to use shortcuts for Windows and other programs
Revised 7-6-16

On the keyboard, there is a special key between the Ctrl and Alt keys with a windows picture on it. This key is used as a shortcut to some of the windows operations. Touching the key activates the start menu/task bar. Holding the windows key down and following with another key produces additional functions as follows:

  • Windows key = Displays taskbar and Start menu
  • Windows key + E = Starts Windows Explorer
  • Windows key + F = Finds files or folders
  • Ctrl + Windows key + F = Finds a computer
  • Windows key + M = Minimizes all windows
  • Shift + Windows key + M = Undoes Minimize All Windows
  • Windows key + R = Displays the Run dialog box
  • Windows key + Tab = Cycles through the taskbar buttons
  • Windows key + Break = Displays the System Properties sheet

For other common keyboard shortcuts click here:

Some other useful ways to learn to use shortcuts is by typing them into the run line. Try this as an example: Click Start, Run and type "sol". (without the quotes). Now is that easier than clicking Start, Programs, Accessories, Games, Solitaire? Now add what you learned above and do it without the mouse entirely on the keyboard. In later windows you may need to type Solitaire instead of Sol. Windows 10 no longer has this old version of solitaire. It is now an app that you download from the store.

First I will tell you how to find out what to type to start any program and then give you a starting list.

Win 95 method: Right click on Start, click Explore. Expand the Programs list. Find the link to the program you want and right click the icon and choose Properties.

Win 98, Me method: Click Start, Programs and STOP. Find the menu item you want to know about and right click it directly and choose Properties. In XP & Vista look for All Programs.

Jump to Windows 10: Right click the windows icon, go to the app you want, right click the app in the menu and select Open File Location. Then right click the file and select Properties. Look for the name.exe in the box.

In either case, the properties dialog box lists the name of the file that is activated by the shortcut. Write it down and try using Run to activate it.

Here is a list of some I found in no particular order: (none are case sensitive)

Many of these are no longer valid in newer Windows.

Sol = Solitaire (note- this does not work on Vista or later- see this page)
Note: Sol does not work in windows 7. in later versions the command changed to "solitaire" and it still won't run it.
You can go to the start button and type solitaire and it will be in the list to get from the store.
Windows 8 & 10 you must either pic an app from the store or download a third party software.
Wordpad (obvious) Works in all versions of Windows
Calc = Calculator (in Windows 10 type calc in the search box)
Explorer = Windows Explorer (same as the Windows + E above) Works in all versions of Windows
Iexplore = Internet Explorer (Works in Vista with IE7) IE is no longer available in later versions of Windows 10.
Winword = Microsoft Word (Works in Vista- any version of word)
Wab = Windows Address Book (same as used in Outlook and Outlook Express) In Vista, it opens a folder called Contacts which replaces WAB.
MSPaint = Microsoft Paint (Works in Vista)
MSHearts = Microsoft Hearts (Not in Vista) Heats is there, but not mshearts.
Kodakimg = Kodak Imaging (included with Windows)-not in Vista. All the graphics changed drastically. Check this out.
Freecell = the game (link does not work in Vista- game is still there)
Sndvol32 = volume control (not in Vista)
Charmap = Character map ( If you haven't tried this, do so. Here's Instructions) Works in Vista
Defrag = Disk Defragmenter (Works in Vista)
Cleanmgr = Disk Cleanup Don't know what this is? Click Here or just try it. (Still works in Vista)

Well that should be enough to give you the idea. The items in the above list should be on every Windows computer except as noted for Vista. You have a lot of added programs unique to your computer. Look through the programs to see what you do have and make a list.


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