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5 Windows 10 shortcuts for desktop administrators

Admins who manage Windows 10 desktops are often overwhelmed with tedium. Here are five keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10 that can make a desktop admin's job easier.

For desktop administrators who grapple with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of endpoints on a daily basis, every minute counts.

Microsoft offers a wealth of Windows 10 shortcuts that can reduce the time and effort needed to perform repetitive tasks. There are dozens of keyboard shortcuts available, but we've picked out five that every desktop administrator should know by heart.

Microsoft offers a wealth of Windows 10 shortcuts that can reduce the time and effort needed to perform common or repetitive tasks.

Windows Key + R

Desktop administrators routinely need to launch tools such as self-installers and diagnostic tools. It's possible for an administrator to scroll down a Start menu or peruse file menus and dialogs to locate the required content, but it can be much easier and faster to simply "run" the desired file directly. This is the role of the Run dialog, which admins can quickly open by pressing the Windows Logo key and R key on the keyboard.

Alternatively, admins can open the Run dialog by pressing Start, expanding the Windows System folder of the Start menu and then selecting the Run entry with the mouse or keyboard. 

Once the Run dialog is open, the desktop administrator can directly type the name of the file to execute. In some cases, this can be a traditional diagnostic such as "dxdiag," the DirectX Diagnostic Tool. In other cases, the administrator may type "cmd" to start a command prompt to launch scripts or take other low-level actions on the system.

Windows Key + I

A PC provides a wealth of detailed settings and configuration options for system hardware, networks, applications, personalization, privacy, updates and much more. All of these settings are accessed through the Settings dialog, which essentially provides desktop administrators with a common point of entry for the system's entire setup. Desktop administrators will frequently work with Settings when configuring and troubleshooting the system, so they can quickly access the Settings menu by pressing the Windows Logo key and I key on the keyboard.

Alternatively, admins can open the Settings dialog by pressing Start and selecting the Settings entry in the Start menu with the mouse or keyboard.

The Settings menu is simply the top-level menu for the system's configuration. The administrator will still need additional mouse or keyboard control to select desired settings attributes for more detailed inspection and change. To select a different Wi-Fi network for the PC, for example, an administrator would need to select the Network and Internet option, and then select the Wi-Fi option before choosing another available Wi-Fi network. It's important for administrators to also be familiar with keyboard-based navigation and selection to work with the Settings menu effectively.

Windows Key + E

A typical PC holds countless files, including everyday applications, patches and regular work content such as Word or Excel files. When a desktop administrator works to configure, clean up, back up or troubleshoot a system, it can be extremely important to locate folders and files quickly. 

Admins can use Windows File Explorer as the common dialog to browse and select files and folders. Desktop administrators can quickly open File Explorer by pressing the Windows Logo key and E key on the keyboard. Alternatively, they can access the File Explorer by pressing the Start key, expanding the Windows System folder of the Start menu and then selecting the File Explorer entry with the mouse or keyboard.

As with Settings, the File Explorer shortcut opens the top-level menu for files and folders. The administrator will still need additional mouse or keyboard control to drill down and select desired files and folders for inspection, backup and so on. To select an object on the system's desktop, for example, the administrator would select the Desktop item on the left menu, and then browse and select from the available objects. Once again, administrators must be familiar with keyboard-based navigation and selection -- or use a mouse -- to work with the File Explorer effectively.

Windows Key + Pause

Desktop administrators often need to quickly determine the current configuration and capabilities of a PC. The System Properties dialog typically provides such insights, allowing an administrator to see the OS, key system hardware such as processor and memory, network details and OS licensing parameters of the system. From here, an administrator can make informed decisions about the relative age and capabilities of the system, and determine whether configuration changes or upgrades are appropriate.

Administrators can quickly open the System Properties dialog with a Windows 10 shortcut by pressing the Windows Logo key and the Pause/Break key on the keyboard. Alternatively, they can access System Properties by pressing the Start key, expanding the Windows System folder of the Start menu, selecting the Control Panel entry with the mouse or keyboard, choosing System and Security and then selecting System.

Once the System Properties dialog is open, administrators can quickly use the left menu to access the Device Manager for granular system hardware and driver information, Remote settings to allow or deny remote access to the PC and System protection features such as System Restore to recover previous system restore points.

Windows Key + A

Windows 10 includes a comprehensive notification system called Windows Action Center (WAC). The WAC provides users with categorized and actionable alerts that can often report system problems, application errors, available patches or updates for applications and drivers and perform other convenient actions such as changing Wi-Fi networks without using the more traditional system Settings dialog. Desktop administrators can often locate important alerts or notifications that may provide clues for troubleshooting. 

Although WAC alerts and notifications will pop up automatically when events occur, administrators can access the WAC any time with a Windows 10 shortcut by pressing the Windows Logo key and the A key on the keyboard. Alternatively, they can access WAC by selecting its icon located in the right corner of the Taskbar.

With the WAC open, administrators can quickly access the Settings dialog or change network connections. Administrators can scroll down through longer lists of alerts and notifications or opt to clear notifications to clear the WAC list.

This was last published in July 2019

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