Microsoft's new operating system Windows 7 is faster than its predecessor Windows Vista, of this there is no doubt.

Some of this is down to the fact its the most keyboard-friendly version of Windows yet. Without ever laying a finger on your mouse, you can dock windows, quick-launch your favourite apps, enable external displays, and much more.

Sure, you have to memorise a few new key-combos, but once you've integrated them into your daily routine, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them. Here's out ten must-have keyboard shortcuts.

Start-menu searches: Windows key

This carryover from Vista is arguably one of Windows' must underused and undervalued features.

A simple tap of the Windows key activates the Start menu, where you can type the first few letters of a program name, Control Panel setting, Word document, or whatever and then hit Enter to launch it. Why reach for the mouse?

Minimise (almost) all windows: Win + Home

This combo lets you send all open windows packing - except the one that's currently active. It beats clicking Minimise on a bunch of individual windows. When you tap the shortcut a second time, it restores all previously open windows.

Make windows transparent: Win + Space

This is the keyboard equivalent of mousing over the transparency tool in the right corner of the System Tray - great for those times when you need to something on the desktop (like a gadget) but don't want to minimise all your windows.

After tapping Win-Space, your windows will stay see-through until you let go of the Windows key.

Quick-launch Taskbar apps: Win + (1-9)

As you know, Windows 7 makes it a snap to 'pin' frequently used programs to the taskbar. But did you also know that these programs are automatically assigned a number and corresponding Windows-key shortcut?

Just press Windows-1 to launch the first pinned program (the one closest to the Start button), Windows-2 to launch the next one, and so on.

Fastest app-launching known to man! Except, of course, for this...

Quick-launch any app: Hotkey

Like Vista before it, Windows 7 lets you assign a quick-launch hotkey to any installed program. Just right-click the program's icon, choose Properties, and then click the Shortcut tab.

Click once in the Shortcut key field, then press the hotkey combo you want to assign (Ctrl-Shift-H, for instance). Click OK and you're done!

Assuming you have a good memory, app launching doesn't get any faster than this.

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NEXT PAGE: Even more Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts

  1. Work faster when using Microsoft's new OS
  2. Even more Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts