You are either a Windows person or a Mac person these days. I'm a .NET developer, so that puts me in the Windows category for the most part. Which means that I've spent a substantial amount of time working with the OS and all of its many features.
Here is a compiled list of the top 3 hacks that you can add to your arsenal to make working with Windows a smoother experience.
The run dialog
Winkey + r triggers the much outdated looking run dialog which, as you guessed it, allows you to run programs. While it might look old, it's a super convenient way to launch programs with just a few keystrokes.
If you need to open the command line for example, a quick cmd run command will do the trick. And you can open other applications as well, like VS Code with the 'code' command or Notepad with notepad..
Here's a list of other applications that you can easily open with the run dialog.
- code (VS Code)
- cmd (command-line)
- firefox (Firefox)
- chrome (Chrome)
- notepad (Notepad)
- mspaint (Paint)
- notepad++ (Notepad++)
- powershell (Powershell)
Essentially, if you know the name of the .exe file installed and the proper PATH variables have been set (usually when you install the app), then you can launch it from the dialog box.
Windows 10 had a new addition to the screenshot feature that many have missed, but one that makes the process much more streamlined and that comes with added tools. You might already be familiar with the PrtScn button on most standard keyboards, that essentially takes a snapshot of the entire window without any form of notification to the user. You then typically open up the Paint program and paste whatever is in the buffer at this point, typically the entire desktop.
There is a better way though.
Winkey + Shift + S
That shortcut will launch the new and improved screenshot tool which lets you use the mouse to selectively take a snapshot of only the areas that you specify. In addition, the tool gives you a few options as to how you can select the content.
You can drag through any region that you want to capture and once you have snapped the screenshot, the following notification will appear letting you immediately jump to the editor.
Quite possibly my most favorite feature (and most used) are the 3 and 4 finger gesture options for the touchpad. This of course only works, if you have a multi-touch touchpad that can detect multiple touch points.
While you are limited in the options on how to program the gestures, the few options given are still pretty convenient.
Take the music playback options for example. You can set the touchpad to increase and lower volume using a 3-finger vertical swipe motion. And you can change the track forwards and backwards with a horizontal swipe motion. You can also play and pause your audio with a quick 3-finger tap. This is by far the most convenient and quickest that I have found to play and control my media.
You can also configure a 4-finger pattern. In my case I have that programmed to switch between desktops with a 4-finger horizontal swipe. If you noticed a theme in this list, then it's about convenience and speed. Being able to navigate through Windows without having to take your hands off the keyboard is super important, particularly when you don't want to lose focus during longer work sessions.
I hope you found these helpful. Share any of your own shortcuts in Windows down below.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
New articles published each week. Sign up for my newsletter and stay up to date.