Master Vista With Keyboard and Desktop Shortcuts

By Vangie Beal
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A year ago, when I turned on my Vista machine for the first time, it didn't take long to realize that unless I mastered keyboard and desktop shortcuts I would be wasting a lot of computing time maneuvering through what seems to be an endless parade of Vista screens.

Case in point: under Windows XP you can use the CTRL + ALT + DEL combination to instantly bring up the Windows Task Manager if you want to check what processes or applications are running. In Vista, this key combination only takes you halfway to the Task Manager and leaves you with additional windows to navigate through. It's not that you can't access the Task Manager with a shortcut in Vista, it's just that the shortcut is a different combination of keys than in Windows XP.

Keyboard shortcuts save time in Vista and help you get exactly where you want to be in seconds. The tables below provide a handy cheat sheet for some common functions and tasks in Vista.

Keyboard Shortcut Function
CTRL + ESC Opens the Start menu
CTRL + ALT + DEL Login screen: Lock Computer, Switch User, Log Off, Change a Password, Task Manager
CTRL + SHIFT + ESC Windows Task Manager
ALT + TAB Switch between open items
SHIFT (when inserting a CD ) Stop auto play
Windows Logo Key + D Show desktop
ALT + SPACEBAR Open the shortcut menu for the active window

Windows Key Shortcut Function
Windows Logo Key + F Search for a file or folder
CTRL+ Windows Logo Key + F Search for computers (if you are on a network)
Windows Logo Key + TAB Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D
Windows Logo Key + G Cycle through Sidebar gadgets
Windows Logo Key + E Open Computer

Desktop Shortcuts
In some instances there is no defined keyboard shortcut to access some things, like your Network and Sharing Center, for example. So, instead of using a keyboard shortcut, you can create a shortcut and add it to your desktop. If you find too many icons on the desktop distracting, you can also add them to your Start Menu or Quick Launch toolbar instead.

Local Area Connection Shortcut
This will place a Local Area Connection icon on your desktop that will allow you to view your connection status when you double-click the icon.

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center
    (Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network Sharing Center)
  2. On the right hand side click on Manage Network Connection
  3. A new window will open showing your current Network Connections.
  4. Right click on the connection you want quick access to and select create shortcut.
  5. A message window will pop up with "Windows cannot create a shortcut here, would you like to place the shortcut on the desktop?" Select Yes.
  6. If you prefer you can also drag-and-drop the newly created icon to your Start Menu or Quick Launch bar.

Run Command Shortcut
When you want to use the Run command in Vista, you can launch the Search function from the Vista Start menu. Not hard to do actually, but it can be annoying at times to locate the command on the Start Menu. You can create a desktop icon for the Run Command which can also be added to your Quick Launch toolbar.

  1. Click the Start Menu and type Run the in the Search box.
  2. Find the Run command in the generated search results
  3. Click the Run command and hold down the mouse button when you click
  4. Drag it to your desktop or Quick Launch bar

Shortcuts For Web sites, Programs, Folders and Files
Creating any desktop icon for any program, file, folder on your computer is easy, and can be done using a built in Vista wizard. You can also create shortcuts to Web URLs.

  1. Right click anywhere on your desktop.
  2. Left click New, then select Shortcut from in the New menu. This launches the Create Shortcut wizard
  3. Enter the location (Web address) or browse your hard drive for a location (file, folder or program) that you want to create the shortcut for
  4. Click Next
  5. Still in the Create Shortcut wizard, enter the name you'd like for this shortcut when prompted
  6. Click Finish
  7. Once you close any open windows you should see your new shortcut icon on the Vista desktop

Adapted from PracticallyNetworked.com, part of the EarthWeb.com Network.

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This article was originally published on March 07, 2008
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