Vista: Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows Explorer


When navigating files in Windows Vista, either in Windows Explorer or a File Dialog (like "Open File"), I just discovered there some new keyboard shortcuts.  Here they are:

New Vista Commands
ALT + Up Arrow Move up a folder (to the parent folder)
ALT + Left Arrow Move back in history
ALT + Right Arrow Move forward in history
Backspace Move back in history
(was move up a folder in WinXP)
CTRL+N Open new explorer (a file must be selected)
ALT+Drag&Drop Link to item (creates a shortcut)

Original WinXP Commands
WIN+E Open new Windows Explorer
ALT+D Move focus to the folder address bar
Drag&Drop Move items it targeting the same drive,
Copy items if targeting another drive
CTRL+Drag&Drop Copy items
SHIFT+Drag&Drop Move items
CTRL+SHIFT+Drag&Drop Create shortcut to item
CTRL+W Close window
F2 Rename selected item
SHIFT+Delete Delete an item without moving it to the recycle bin
F4 Select from the address' bar folder history
TAB, SHIFT+TAB Move focus between GUI components, files, folders, etc
Right Arrow, Left Arrow On folders, expands and collapses tree nodes

There are many more (like copy/paste) Vista shortcuts and WinXP shortcuts.

P.S.  Now that I'm trying out Vista, looks like I'll be posting more tips & tricks I come along. 🙂

Comments (20)
  1. todd brooks says:

    Why is there still no keyboard shortcut in Windows Explorer to create a new directory (folder)?

  2. Mike Dunn says:

    It was my understanding that Backspace doing "back in history" instead of "up one level" was a bug that would be fixed for the RTM build.

  3. noahc says:

    todd brooks,

    ALT-F, W, ENTER (or ALT-F, W, F) works to create new folders.  Sure it’s not just one hot-key, but it is quick and easy.

  4. noahc says:

    Mike Dunn,

    That’s interesting because I thought it was sort-of a lack of forsight that the backspace key performed differently in Internet Explorer as in Windows Explorer and they "fixed" this in Vista.  This is just my speculation.  I’ll get my hands on the RTM version Friday and report back what I find.

  5. I have to agree with Noah on the Backspace issue. I was surprised to find it go up a directory in XP. Going back in history is what I expect, considering that’s the action in IE.

    Also of note: Alt+Left, Alt+Right, and Alt+Drag all worked the same in XP and Ctrl+W doesn’t always close a window. Alt+F4 closes any window, while Ctrl+W and Ctrl+F4 are typically used to close MDI windows. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a standard, but I wish it was Ctrl+W, since it’s easier/faster to press.

    There are a few more shortcuts that I found. The one I like the most was the QuickLaunch shortcut.

    http://www.michaelflanakin.com/Articles/tabid/143/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/360/Keyboard-Shortcuts.aspx

  6. Robert Teague says:

    Does the old CTRL+INS or SHIFT-INS still work? I’m a real old time Windows guy and still don’t use the new keyboard shortcuts.

  7. Rick Y says:

    Back arrow in IE7 (Vista home premium) doesn’t work on alot of pages where as old system presario 5000 with ME worked all the time..Is there any kind of fix..also disk clean doesn’t always empty temporary folder on command..any fix for this..

  8. Rick Y says:

    Back arrow in IE7 (Vista home premium) doesn’t work on alot of pages where as old system presario 5000 with ME worked all the time..Is there any kind of fix..also disk clean doesn’t always empty temporary folder on command..any fix for this..

  9. Paul Scott says:

    Can’t seem to print your (HANDY) web page re Summary of Vista’s Windows Explorer!  Would you please email me a (soft) copy?

    THANKS!!!

    prscott@rogers.com

    Paul Scott   Vista Premium newbee!

  10. Paul Scott says:

    VERY HANDY INFO!!!  Bookmarked!

    PRS

  11. Ditto to comment #1: Why no shortcut for new directory?

  12. Steven James Burks says:

    I can’t believe there is still no build in shell command in Vista for new folder creation.

    This is so basic and imperative.

    In XP I used a tiny TSR called mdaxel.exe … Worked very well, but does not work in Vista. Find it here: http://biglasagne.webpark.pl/downloads.html

    Can somebody port this to Vista?

    /steven

  13. Stefan Preisig says:

    For all of you wishing a new folder shortcut:

    There’s a small freeware application which creates a new folder by pressing the F12 key in the Windows Explorer. (It opens a small window where you can type in the name for the new folder)

    http://www.baxbex.com/products.html#bxnewfolder

    You have to run the installation manually with admin privileges! (right click…)

    It wasn’t built for Vista but it works all the same. In older Windows versions there was a button in the explorer toolbar which doesn’t show anymore, but the icon wasn’t too nice anyway 😉

    I don’t like the Backspace change because I have back and forward buttons on my mouse. So if anyone knows a registry key or an application which can change that to one folder up…

  14. spreisig says:

    !!! IMPORTANT !!! (about last comment)

    The BxNewFolder Software does NOT work on Vista when you have the User Account Control activated.

    The Explorer will crash if you try to create a folder where you dont have writing permissions!

    Sorry for my last post but I just found out…

    It did work perfectly in my documents folder where I tested it. I just tried it in a program files folder und unfortunately the Explorer crashed ;-(

  15. claire c says:

    My friend is blind, but uses his computer a lot, using voice programmes of some sort. He can’t use the mouse ever, so uses keyboard shortcuts a lot. He has told me loads of them. It helps me because I have a shaky hand. He is about to upgrade to Vista. Do I have to warn him that his shortcuts will not work on Vista? Is it just a few that won’t work or a lot? Thanks, Claire

  16. andy says:

    alt + f + w + f  opens favourites inside the explorer. what am i doing wrong?

  17. Mahes says:

    Hi,

    Really great shortcuts, i got lots of ideas from this link.

    Please send more shortcuts to my email ID.

    Thanks,

    Mahes

  18. Visha;l says:

    What is the shortcut for creating a new folder on our desktop on Windows XP ??

    THanks in advance..

  19. Stephane says:

    The proposed http://www.baxbex.com/products.html#bxnewfolder works great in VISTA; no button but the F12 function is OK. THanks

  20. pit says:

    > alt + f + w + f  opens favourites inside the explorer. what am i doing wrong?

    You? Nothing. It's idiotic Windows that has different bindings for differnt languages. In German the File menu ist 'Datei' and hence it's ALT-D instead of F (for "Favoriten" – which ist BTW an ugly translation for favorites).

    Usabilty-wise, the whole thing with several keys is a nightmare. The primary object of Explorer are folders (and files) and hence something like CTRL-N should produce that primary object.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content