Common Keyboard Commands

By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO

Most operating systems today offer a GUI (graphical user) interface in which to work.  However, Windows and other operating systems such as Linux still offer great command line options to speed operations.  Just about all software also adheres to many of the same keyboard commands to complete certain operations.  Let’s start with some of the most time saving options.

Copying and Pasting

To save time, Ctrl+C (copy) and Ctrl+V (paste) works in most software.  Common uses for this operation are to rearrange words and phrases in a document or repeat functions in spreadsheets.  A variant, Ctrl+X, will cut the words into the clipboard for pasting.

Undo – Redo

We all make mistakes, Ctrl+Z will undo an operation.  Depending on the software, keep pressing Ctrl+Z to fix several layers of errant operations.  Ctrl+Y will redo an operation.


It is advisable to use Ctrl+S frequently when working on a document.  It saves (no pun intended) time as opposed to using the File, Save menu option in most software.

Select All

Ctrl+A will select all the data in a document.  Used with Ctrl+C, the data can then be copied and pasted to another document or useful when changing fonts.

Find – Replace

Ctrl+F will find text or numbers in a document.  Once found the text can be replaced, Ctrl+H, in most software.  This is a great timesaver if a document frequently refers to the same text.  For instance, I can use dc in this article instead of document, then use find and replace to change all dc references to document.

Modifying Text or Numbers

Ctrl+B will bold text.  Ctrl+I will italicize and Ctrl+U will underline text for emphasis.

Windows and Linux Desktop Environments

Most operating systems will comply with standards such as Alt+Tab to quickly switch between active windows and applications.

F2 will usually allow renaming of files in both Explorer and in Linux file managers.

Bonus for Windows

Right click (not left click) on the Windows icon to reveal a new menu, including the all important Run command.  Type in CMD to open a command prompt.  Or type in appwiz.cpl to quickly open programs and features to uninstall apps.  Microsoft continues to add layers of what they consider ‘user friendly’ gui covers trying to keep users farther away from command line operations.

Bonus for Linux

Terminal access is readily available in the menu items for most Linux based desktops.  For Debian and Ubuntu based distributions, sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade, will update and upgrade software packages, after typing in the root password..  This is often faster than using a software manager.

Although we live in a GUI world, keyboard commands still have value.