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You’re using your keyboard wrong — 7 smart keyboard shortcuts to save time

Anyone using Windows knows the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Delete or Command + Option + Esc on a Mac. These shortcuts can help force stop apps or programs. Two more popular keyboard shortcuts are Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste on Windows.

On a Mac, that’s Command + C and Command + V. Tap or click for a comprehensive list of more like this.

Let’s go beyond the basics with lesser-known shortcuts you’ll wish you knew about sooner. This tip is brought to you by our sponsor, Dell. Call a Dell Technologies Advisor at 877-ASK-DELL or go to for free expert support.

1. Switch between open windows

Most of us multitask, so you rarely have just one window open on your computer. Let’s say you have your email client, a browser with several tabs, a chat program, and Excel running.

You can go to your computer’s dock to switch between applications, or you can quickly cycle through them with a few keystrokes.

  • To switch between open windows on a PC, press Ctrl + Alt + Tab.
  • To switch between open windows on Mac, press Command + Tab.

Digital life hack: Helpful secret phrases you can say to Siri or Google Assistant

2. Quickly lock your computer

You should turn off or lock your computer any time you leave it unattended. Do it without going through your computer’s menu.

  • To lock your screen on a PC, press Windows + L.
  • To lock your screen on Mac, press Ctrl + Command + Q.

Make sure the password you choose is strong and secure, too. No birthdays or “password1” here! Tap or click for my 60-second podcast on creating hard-to-crack passwords you can remember.

3. Take a picture of your screen

From time to time, you may want to save only a portion of a website, photo, or whatever is showing on your screen. It’s so easy to do once you know the combination of keys to make the magic happen.

  • To take a screenshot on a PC, press Windows + Shift + S.
  • To take a screenshot on Mac, press Shift + Command + 4.

The screenshot will be saved to your clipboard. Open a tool like Word, Paint or Preview and select Paste. Then, you can edit the screenshot and save it to your chosen location.

4. Zoom in

Whether your eyesight isn’t what it used to be or you want to see something on your screen in greater detail, zoom is there to help.

I’ll show you two options. If you have a mouse with a wheel connected to your PC, hit Ctrl + scroll your mouse. Scroll the wheel up to zoom in and scroll down to zoom out.

To use your keyboard only:

  • Windows: Press Windows key + plus sign (+) to zoom in; Windows key + minus sign (-) to zoom out.
  • Mac: Press Option + Command + equals sign (=) to zoom in; Option + Command + minus sign (-) to zoom out.

5. Paste text without its original formatting

Here’s a quick keyboard shortcut I always use: Instead of just Ctrl + V to paste text, add in the shift key. This will paste the text you’ve copied and remove whatever formatting it had. If you paste your text into a document, it will match everything else. Super handy.

  • Windows: Press Ctrl + Shift + V.
  • Mac: Press Option + Command + Shift + V.

6. Quickly check your downloads history

Want to see what you’ve downloaded from your web browser? Maybe you need a file you retrieved a few days ago, or you failed to save something to a more permanent home.

  • On a Windows PC, hit Ctrl + J.
  • On a Mac, hit Command + Option + L.

7. Create a virtual desktop

If you use many apps simultaneously or use your computer for different tasks, virtual desktops can help you keep track of everything.

You can work on your computer while keeping a virtual desktop open to play a game, for example. Or you can open windows and apps for one task, such as video editing, on one desktop and use the other desktop for photo editing.

  • To create a virtual desktop on a PC, press Windows + Ctrl + D.
  • To create a virtual desktop on Mac, press Control + up arrow.

Tech help from the pros

Sometimes it feels like the world is throwing everything it has at you. To succeed, you need someone to guide you through. That’s what Dell Technologies Advisors do. They have the tech advice to help you navigate whatever challenges you’re up against — and get you safely to where you want to be.

Call a Dell Technologies Advisor at 877-ASK-DELL or go to for free expert support.

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