Windows 7 Tip of the Week
More Fun with Keyboard Shortcuts

Tip date: September 12, 2010
Tipster: Stephen Lambie

Every once In while, I'm genuinely surprised by a reader suggestion or tip. It's not that I know everything about Windows--who could?--but just that I've been around the block a few times and feel that there aren't any rocks left unturned. But I get surprised. And one such surprise--though admittedly only a 2 or 3 on the Windows Secrets Richter Scale, was enough to touch off this third look at keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7.

The previous two efforts--Access the Taskbar with Keyboard Shortcuts and Using Aero Snaps with Multi-Monitor ... And Other Keyboard Shortcuts were popular enough that I figured I could and should expand this tip into another collection of useful keyboard shortcuts.

So here we go.


Automtically resize columns in Details view

First, the initial tip. If you enable Details view in an Explorer window--or, as it turns out, any application that supports Details view--you can press CTRL + NumPad+ (that is, the "+" key on the keyboard's numeric keypad only) to automatically sort the view so that each column is resized correctly to accommodate the content it displays. To understand what this means, consider the following "before" and "after" shots:

Before:

Windows 7 Tip of the Week

After:

Windows 7 Tip of the Week

A number of readers note that this trick is particularly useful in the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) as well.

Update: Dale V. notes that it works nicely in Task Manager too. And that you can quickly launch Task Manager with the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC keyboard shortcut. :)

And now for some other useful keyboard shortcuts we haven't yet covered here:

Windows Flip application switching

Most people are probably familiar with the ALT + TAB (Windows Flip) keyboard shortcut for application switching. And I'm sure that most people reading this have probably had the aggravating experience of "over-shooting" the app you want while switching between open applications while using Windows Flip, forcing you to keep going, go past go, do not collect $200, and try to stop on the right application the next time around. It turns out there's another way, if you're dexterous. You can also use ALT + SHIFT + TAB to rotate between running applications in reverse order. So if you do overshoot the application you want, just tap ALT + SHIFT + TAB to go backwards.

Undo and retry

The Undo keyboard shortcut--CTRL + Z--is pretty popular, but you can also use CTRL + Y for redo in those applications that support it. In Windows 7, this works with file deletions (if you're using the Recycle Bin), among other actions.

Delete and really delete

Speaking of the Recycle Bin, you probably know that selecting an object in Windows Explorer and then tapping DELETE will move that object to the Recycle Bin. But you can bypass the Recycle Bin and delete it permanently by tapping SHIFT + DELETE.

Function key shortcuts

Your PC's function keys are automatically configured for certain actions in Windows 7:

F1: Help
F2: Rename
F3: Search
F4: Select the address bar in Windows Explorer
F5: Refresh
F6: Cycle through the available elements in the current window
F10: Select (and activate) the menu bar
F11: Toggle full-screen mode

There are a lot more, of course. But we'll save those for a future installment of Windows 7 Tip of the Week.