These Windows 11 keyboard shortcuts will improve your efficiency

Make space for these in your memory bank

Someone pressing a button that reads 'shortcut' on a shite keyboard
(Image: © Shutterstock / KUMOHD)

There are new keyboard shortcuts to memorize for the Windows 11 operating system, so if you've never utilized these time-saving key combinations before then now is the perfect time to learn. 

There have been criticisms that Microsoft's latest OS, Windows 11 is little more than a reskinned version of its predecessor, Windows 10, but this new generation of Windows has unique features that can boost your productivity and efficiency without needing to reach for your mouse.

Keyboard shortcuts (opens in new tab) are the easiest and fastest way to access some of these features, and while it's a skill to memorize and use them (much like touch typing and other desirable computing skills), putting in the effort is worth it. Some of these new shortcuts replace older, defunct ones such as Windows key + C now launching Teams thanks to Microsoft's Teams integration into Windows 11, whilst it previously opened the AI assistant Cortana.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Windows 11 keyboard shortcutWhat it does (command)
Windows key + AOpen Quick Settings
Windows key + NOpen notification center and calendar
Windows key + WOpen Widgets
Windows key + KOpen Cast in Quick Settings
Windows key + COpen Chat from Microsoft Teams
Windows key + Ctrl + CTurn on color filter (requires prior enabling)

These everyday shortcuts will allow you quick access to things like the News and Interests feed or Widgets, where you can check for any breaking news, local weather reports and more without needing to head to a dedicated news site. Users can also perform searches using this panel, saving you from opening a browser window at all.

If you have options that you frequently use, such as Bluetooth, Airplane mode or volume then opening Quick Access will let you switch between a custom settings menu.

Color Filters will take a little bit more preparation, but if you like to use a softer, warmer light in dark environments then you can head to Select Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Color filters to enable different filters and see what suits your eyes best.

Virtual Desktop keyboard shortcuts

Windows 11 virtual desktops

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Using additional monitors on your computer or laptop is one of the best upgrades you can make to help improve productivity, but not everyone has the luxury of additional space or funds to buy a second display.

Thankfully, Microsoft introduced Virtual Desktops as an alternative to multiple monitors back in Windows 10, and this feature has been greatly improved in Windows 11, giving you a handy way to keep work and personal things separate, or just reap the benefits of additional space.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Windows 11 keyboard shortcutWhat it does (command)
Windows key + TabOpen Task view of virtual desktops
Windows key + Ctrl + DAdd a virtual desktop
Windows key + Ctrl + Right or Left arrowSwitch between open virtual desktops
Windows key + Ctrl + F4Close the virtual desktop you're currently using

You can add as many virtual desktops as you like, and learning to use these keyboard shortcuts will make switching between them a breeze. 

Snap Layouts keyboard shortcut

A few snap layout examples used on Windows 11

(Image credit: How To Geek)

If productivity-boosting is on your agenda then Snap layouts are an absolute must, allowing you to arrange multiple windows across the screen, not just side by side, but in columns, sections and more. 

If you find yourself alt-tabbing your way through multiple windows then you might find this to be an especially useful feature, and with keyboard shortcuts, you can still use your keyboard to navigate around rather than a laptop trackpad or a mouse.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Windows 11 keyboard shortcutWhat it does (command)
Windows key + ZOpen Snap Layouts
Windows key + Alt + Up arrow or Down arrowSnap selected window to top or bottom half of screen

This is exactly anything new, with Snap features being introduced way back in Windows 7, but the last two generations of the OS have greatly improved them, and Windows 11 especially now enabling the keyboard shortcuts you no longer have to rely on using the PowerToys (opens in new tab) app to streamline your experience.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.