Navigating your way around Windows 8: Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows 8 has been touted as an operating system for all platforms and will soon appear on laptops, desktops, and tablets. We see hints today in Microsoft’s xbox and mobile platforms of the Metro Modern user interface and will more than likely see a version of Windows 8 on future Microsoft products. All of this had led to countless discussions relating to the use of Windows 8 with touch devices and many of those discussions have concluded (incorrectly) Windows 8 is not a “keyboard and mouse” friendly operating system.

All of the “Ho Ha” regarding the “touch” capabilities of Windows 8 has led quite a few to lament Windows 8 as an operating system not suited to “real” computer such as laptops and desktops. This is entirely wrong. Windows 8 is just as, if not more, suitable for use on your “real” computer as any Windows operating system before it. In fact, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to add keyboard shortcuts to Windows 8 that simplify its’ use and can really speed things up for users without them needing to remove their hands from the keyboard.

I’ve prepared a list of handy shortcuts below. The first column is the key combination to press and the second column is what that combination will do, as well as where it will work and any other special considerations. The last two columns – the D and S – refer to whether the keyboard shortcut will work on the Desktop, Start Screen, or both.

Win 8 Key Combination

Results in this Windows 8 Function



Windows keySwitch between Start Screen and Desktop or between Start Screen and most recent App
Windows key + BSelects the first item in the Desktop Notification Area – Arrow keys cycle through the items – Enter opens
Windows key + CAccess the charms bar
Windows key + DShow/Hide Desktop
Windows key + EOpen the File Explorer to Computer
Windows key + FAccess the Files Search screen
Windows key + HAccess the Share charm
Windows key + IAccess the Settings charm
Windows key + KAccess the Devices charm
Windows key + LLock computer
Windows key + MMinimize all
Windows key + OLock screen orientation on tablets and portable devices only
Windows key + PAccess the Second Screen bar
Windows key + QAccess the Apps Search screen
Windows key + ROpen the Run dialog box
Windows key + TCycle through the openitems on the Taskbar
Windows key + UOpen Ease of Access Center
Windows key + VView all active Toasts/Notifications
Windows key + WAccess the Settings Search screen
Windows key + XAccess the Windows Tools Menu or “Geek Menu”
Windows key + ZOpens the App Bar
Windows key + 1-10Launch a program pinned to the Desktop Taskbar. 1 = 1st program, etc
Windows key + Up ArrowMaximize current window
Windows key + Down ArrowMinimize/restore current window
Windows key + Left ArrowTile window on the left side of the screen
Windows key + Right ArrowTile window on the right side of the screen
Windows key + HomeMinimize all but the current window
Windows key + TabAccess the Program Switcher – Each press toggles through all open programs and Windows 8 Apps
Windows key + PrtScnTakes a screenshot of the screen and saves it in the Pictures folder
Windows key + Pause/BreakOpen the System window
Windows key + EnterLaunch Narrator
Windows key + .Move the screen split to the right and left
Windows key + Shift + MRestore all minimized windows
Windows key + Shift + VView all active Toasts/Notifications in reverse order
Windows key + Shift + Up ArrowExtend current window from the top to the bottom of the screen
Windows key + Shift + Left/RightMove the current window from one monitor to the next
Windows key + Shift + .Move the screen split to the left or right
Windows key + Shift + 1-10Launch a new instance of a program pinned to the Taskbar. 1 is 1st program, etc
Windows key + Ctrl + BAccess the program displaying a message in the Notification Area
Windows key + Ctrl + FOpen Find Computers dialog box
Windows key + Ctrl + 1-10Access the last active instance of a program pinned to the Taskba. 1 = 1st program, etc
Windows key + Alt + 1-10Access the Jump List of a program pinned to the Taskbar. 1 = 1st program, etc

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2 thoughts on “Navigating your way around Windows 8: Keyboard Shortcuts”

    1. You got it Dan! Specifically; D = Desktop, and S = Start Screen.

      Windows 8 is a hybrid system incorporating both desktop environment and mobile environment. Certain shortcuts will only work within a specific environment, hence the distinction.

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