Switching to a new operating system can seem overwhelming or scary, but the joy of learning something new is worth the effort.
Let’s take a look at some of the important keyboard shortcuts that work similarly on both Linux and Windows. Although Windows and Linux are inherently different, you can still use most of the shortcuts you know in either operating system.
Why use keyboard shortcuts?
Shortcuts are one of the best ways to get something done quickly on your PC. If you find that you do some task or action very often, you should consider finding a shortcut for it. It will save you tons of time and increase your productivity.
The graphical user interface (GUI) of most software systems changes quite often but the underlying shortcuts rarely change. For example, accessing installed programs from the GUI on Windows XP, Windows 10, and Windows 11 is very different, but the hotkey remains the same, and probably will be for many more years.
Apart from being cool, shortcuts also help you gain confidence and mastery of the operating system or software you are using.
1. Lock screen
Want to move away from your computer? Don’t compromise your security by leaving your computer unlocked. Quickly lock your computer screen with the shortcut Super + L, to avoid people snooping on your computer. After locking your device, the system will ask you to enter a password to access the computer again.
2. Open Apps Launcher or Menu
The start menu or program menu gives you access to installed programs and a search bar to quickly search for files or programs. Just press the Super key or Super + S and start typing to search for the file or program you’re looking for.
On Linux, the launcher also gives you a look at the programs that are currently running.
3. Show the desktop
If you have several applications or files open but want to quickly go to the desktop, just press Super + D. This minimizes all open windows and takes you to the desktop. Press Super + D again to bring back the open programs.
4. Switch applications
To quickly switch to another open program on your PC, use the Alt + Tab shortcut. Continue pressing the shortcut to highlight the next open program and release when the program you’re looking for is highlighted.
To go back, press Alt + Shift + Tab. Alternatively, you can use the Super + Tab key to quickly switch between open applications. In Windows, the Super + Tab shortcut also shows your current virtual desktops.
5. Maximize and minimize a window
Use the Super + Up key to maximize the window size of an application and the Super + Down arrow key to make the window smaller. This is handy when you want to have several application windows open at the same time.
6. Get help
Both Windows and Linux are well documented and so are most programs built for them. Minimize all open programs (Super + D) then press F1 and you will get some documentation about your operating system.
You can also use the F1 key to get help with a specific application. For example, pressing F1 in your browser window will open your browser’s documentation or help pages.
7. Close a program
Use the shortcut Alt + F4 to quickly close an open program on Windows and Linux.
8. Split windows
Often you may want to view applications side by side for comparison or to easily switch between them. Use the shortcut Super + Left Arrow to quickly pin an application window to the left and Super + Right Arrow to pin a window to the right. The programs will take up equal window space.
9. Change keyboard language
If you have multiple language packs installed on your PC, you can easily change the current language using the Super + Space shortcut.
10. Edit Shortcuts
One of the most common tasks among PC users is editing. We edit documents, scripts, program code, images, etc. Use the shortcut Ctrl + X to cut text or a file. To copy a text or file, use the Ctrl + C keys, then use Ctrl + V to paste the copied or cut content.
To quickly rename a file, select it and press F2.
Improve your productivity with keyboard shortcuts
That’s it for now. We’ve looked at some key shortcuts you can use on both Linux and Windows, but there are many more. Mastering shortcuts for everyday tasks can save you tons of time and increase your productivity.