The majority of people, especially those of us in office jobs, tend to use a Windows PC. We’ve gotten pretty good at it too. But no matter how long you’ve used your computer, there are always some handy hidden tools that you might not know about yet. In Windows 7, there are plenty of these. Here are a few under-used shortcuts that might just help you with your day-to-day activities. (For more on the benefits of Windows 7, see Forget Windows 8: Why Your Next Upgrade Should Be to Windows 7.)

Key Windows Shortcuts

If you’ve never experienced the Windows key before (abbreviated as "Win"), it’s the flag logo in the lower-left of your keyboard. If you have, chances are it’s been because you accidentally pressed it. What happened? The Start menu popped up. That could be useful, but this key can also be combined with other keys to produce a wide variety of functions. Here's a list of what the Windows key can do:

  • Tap the key to bring up the Start menu. If you open programs from there a lot, this can be helpful.
  • Win+F opens the search function. However, you can also simply tap the key and start typing and search will start automatically.
  • Win+D minimizes all running windows and shows your desktop. (Don’t tell your boss.)
  • Win+Left Arrow shrinks the window to half the screen on the left side of the screen for side-by-side viewing.
  • Wind+Right Arrow shrinks the window to half the screen on the right side of the screen for side-by-side viewing.
  • Win+Up Arrow changes the screen back to full size when in left or right-screen viewing mode
  • Win+Down Arrow minimizes the screen size

Security Upgrades

If you’re tired of changing your password every two weeks to something more secure, or keeping track of dozens of passwords, consider getting a biometric reader, which Windows 7 has a lot of support for. It is a fingerprint scanner that allows you to gain access to your computer or specific websites simply by scanning your finger. Fingerprint scanners start at $20 on Amazon or Newegg.

If you don’t want to go that route, Windows Credential manager allows you to manage all the passwords and usernames on your computer. It’s more secure than using your browser’s built-in password memory. Go to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts, and choose "Manage your credentials" from the left menu.


While previous versions of the Windows Calculator have been sorely lacking in features, the Windows 7 calculator allows you to switch between scientific, programming and statistics calculators. On top of that, you can convert units of measurement or other calculations, such as determining the time between dates. The worksheet option also allows you to calculate mortgages, payments, or even fuel efficiency.

Help a Friend Out

If you’re like the rest of us Nerds, you’ve probably had a tech-challenged relative ask you for help, but haven’t been able to provide it very easily because you’re not at their computer. The next time someone asks you for help, you can use the built-in Windows Remote Access function to view their screen and guide them.

For details on how to do this, check out the Windows Remote Assistance page. It’ll walk you through the basics of setting it up.

Shortcuts and other handy tricks can make navigating Windows much faster and easier. As a result, it can make work faster and easier too. Now who can argue with that?