My application has many actions which can be used without using a hotkey, such as closing a tab. These actions are available in the menu bar where the hotkey for that action (Ctrl+W) is also listed.

However there are also actions that are only available through a hotkey, such as Ctrl+Tab which, while holding Ctrl, opens a sort of tab manager. This tab manager cannot be used without holding Ctrl, and as such is not available as a separate action. Since there is no entry for this in the menu bar, I don't know where to list this hotkey.

How do I inform my users of this hidden hotkey?

2 Answers 2


Maybe quite complex, but you could detect the behavior of the user : after he/she has switched 3-4-5 times from one tab to the other, you could display something like a tooltip next to the tabs, that informs them that they can also perform that action quicker by using the CTRL + ... shortcut.

You could also include in that tooltip a link to the page that lists all shortcuts, if they want to see about other shortcuts or just be reminded of a shortcut they forgot, etc.


As Julien said, detecting behaviour is a good option but it also is resource intensive.

keyboard shortcuts are by its nature hidden methods, mainly used by regular/power users of the system. At least two sites which I know Twitter and Gmail offer a shortcut key menu on press of ?

For example, Twitter shows an overlay listing all the possible keyboard shortcuts.

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Although, ? is becoming a standard for keyboard shortcuts, you can inform user of this help option, User can take it up from there.

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