Stay productive by utilizing keyboard shortcuts



Last year I presented in my daughter’s school during STEM day, and one of the questions I got from other students was about the importance of key subjects in school, and for anyone looking for a career in STEM Maths and English (for non-native speakers) are essential.

However, I highlighted one other thing that is important in IT and that is learning to get around your computer fast. This is not just learning how to type fast (with 10 fingers if possible) but also other hacks that can make you faster and thus more productive than the average Joe. The key here is knowing how applications you use work and how you can benefit from Keyboard shortcuts.

Here are some of the shortcuts I use, there are many more, and many systems allow you to customize them. I find all that to be too complicated and just sticking to the most basic ones will help you to be more productive. Using a mouse to perform any of these is an enormous waste of time and should be avoided at all costs. Sadly, many people don’t know and don’t use these.

(This is all Windows specific and it might be different on a different operating system)


  • Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, and Ctrl+X – these are evergreens, and work everywhere
  • Win+V – multi-clipboard paste
  • Ctrl-Shift+V – paste as plain text
  • Ctrl+B – mark text as bold
  • Ctrl+I – italics
  • Ctrl+U – underline
  • Ctrl+K – manage a hyperlink
  • Ctrl+A – select all
  • Shift+Del – delete permanently
  • Ctrl+Z/Ctrl+Y – undo/redo last action
  • Ctrl+Left/Right arrow – move cursor one word to left/right
  • Shift+Arrow – select in the direction of the arrow
  • Home/End – move the cursor to the beginning or the end. (Can be used in combination with selection)

Microsoft Word

  • Ctrl+Alt+X – apply Heading X style, where X is a number e.g. 1,2,3…
  • Ctrl+Shift+N – apply Normal style
  • F7 – spell check
  • Ctrl+Alt+H – highlight text
  • Tab/Shift+Tab – increase/decrease indent
  • Shift+Enter – new line (in paragraph)
  • Ctrl+Enter – page break

Microsoft Excel

  • Ctrl+1 to format cell

Microsoft Outlook

  • Ctrl+R – reply
  • Ctrl+F – forward
  • Ctrl+N – new email
  • Backspace – archive an email
  • Ins – flag

Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Ctrl+M – new slide

These are the essential shortcuts, but depending on what you are doing some others can also be relevant. Check more detailed lists for Word and Outlook.

Hey there! I’m Toni, the Co-Founder and CEO of Syskit, creators of Syskit Point and SPDocKit. Welcome to Toni on Tech, where we explore the ever-evolving world of software, technology, and business.