Hot Key Happiness

I use hot keys so frequently that I tend to take them for granted and forget that not everyone uses as many as I do.  Many times when I’m working with a colleague I habitually hit some key sequence that is immediately followed by a quizzical “How’d you do that!?” So, for the benefit of those looking for a few easy productivity enhancers I’m providing this simple list.  Although some well-known key sequences are included this post is in no way intended to be another all-inclusive list but rather just a listing of those that I find most useful from day-to-day.

Windows 7

My primary operating system is Windows 7. With Windows 7 Microsoft was kind enough to give us lots of new hot keys for positioning windows and switching between applications in addition to leaving traditional ones in place.

Window Position/Management

Windows Key + D
Show desktop

Windows Key + P
Change projector/2nd monitor mode (duplicate, extend, etc…)

Windows Key + Up Arrow
Maximize window

Windows Key + Down Arrow
Restore/minimize window

Windows Key + Shift + Right | Left Arrow
Move window to different monitor

Switching Between Applications

Windows Key + [task bar index #]
Start a new instance of the item at the specified index or switch to the active instance if it is already running
Example: Assuming Internet Explorer is the first item on the task bar Windows Key + 1 will open IE.

Windows Key + Shift + [task bar index #]
Force a new instance of the item at the specified index to start

Alt + Shift + Tab
Cycle backwards through task chooser
No, I’m not going to describe the version w/o shift. Also, I hardly ever the alternative Aero Flip (Windows Key + Tab) but sometimes it’s handy. :)

Visual Studio 2010

Although Visual Studio 2010 is now RTM and exposes some nice functionality through hot keys but most of my favorites have been in place for quite some time. A great resource for learning some of the lesser-known (or sometimes rather well-known) is Zain Naboulsi‘s Visual Studio Tips and Tricks blog.

Code Formatting

Ctrl + E, D
Format document

Ctrl + E, F
Format selection

Code Navigation

Go to definition

Shift + F12 (or Ctrl + K, R)
Find all references

Ctrl + K, Ctrl + T
View call hierarchy

Ctrl + G
Go to line

Ctrl + –
Navigate backward

Ctrl + Shift + –
Navigate forward

Ctrl + B, T
Toggle bookmark

Ctrl + B, N
Go to next bookmark

Ctrl + B, P
Go to previous bookmark

Ctrl + B, C
Delete all bookmarks


Ctrl + E, C (or Ctrl + K, C)
Comment line/selection

Ctrl + E, U (or Ctrl + K, U)
Uncomment line/selection


Ctrl + M, Ctrl + H
Hide current selection

Ctrl + M, L
Toggle all outlining

Ctrl + M, M
Toggle outlining expansion


Ctrl + R, R (or F2)
Rename symbol

Ctrl + R, M
Extract method


Toggle breakpoint

Ctrl + Shift + F9
Delete all breakpoints

Ctrl + D, N
Break at function


Shift + Alt + C
Add class to project

Ctrl + E, S (or Ctrl + R, W)
Show/Hide whitespace characters