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 key Switch between Start Screen and Desktop or between Start Screen and most recent App
Windows key + B Selects the first item in the Desktop Notification Area – Arrow keys cycle through the items – Enter opens
Windows key + C Access the charms bar
Windows key + D Show/Hide Desktop
Windows key + E Open the File Explorer to Computer
Windows key + F Access the Files Search screen
Windows key + H Access the Share charm
Windows key + I Access the Settings charm
Windows key + K Access the Devices charm
Windows key + L Lock computer
Windows key + M Minimize all
Windows key + O Lock screen orientation on tablets and portable devices only
Windows key + P Access the Second Screen bar
Windows key + Q Access the Apps Search screen
Windows key + R Open the Run dialog box
Windows key + T Cycle through the openitems on the Taskbar
Windows key + U Open Ease of Access Center
Windows key + V View all active Toasts/Notifications
Windows key + W Access the Settings Search screen
Windows key + X Access the Windows Tools Menu or “Geek Menu”
Windows key + Z Opens the App Bar
Windows key + 1-10 Launch a program pinned to the Desktop Taskbar. 1 = 1st program, etc
Windows key + Up Arrow Maximize current window
Windows key + Down Arrow Minimize/restore current window
Windows key + Left Arrow Tile window on the left side of the screen
Windows key + Right Arrow Tile window on the right side of the screen
Windows key + Home Minimize all but the current window
Windows key + Tab Access the Program Switcher – Each press toggles through all open programs and Windows 8 Apps
Windows key + PrtScn Takes a screenshot of the screen and saves it in the Pictures folder
Windows key + Pause/Break Open the System window
Windows key + Enter Launch Narrator
Windows key + . Move the screen split to the right and left
Windows key + Shift + M Restore all minimized windows
Windows key + Shift + V View all active Toasts/Notifications in reverse order
Windows key + Shift + Up Arrow Extend current window from the top to the bottom of the screen
Windows key + Shift + Left/Right Move the current window from one monitor to the next
Windows key + Shift + . Move the screen split to the left or right
Windows key + Shift + 1-10 Launch a new instance of a program pinned to the Taskbar. 1 is 1st program, etc
Windows key + Ctrl + B Access the program displaying a message in the Notification Area
Windows key + Ctrl + F Open Find Computers dialog box
Windows key + Ctrl + 1-10 Access the last active instance of a program pinned to the Taskba. 1 = 1st program, etc
Windows key + Alt + 1-10 Access 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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