Windows 8 – The Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

Windows 8 was written primarily for touch devices such as tablets and touch screen monitors.

If you’re a classic mouse and keyboard user there will be some challenges.

For example, did you know that if you want to close one of the new Metro apps, you have to push your mouse to the top of the screen until it turns into a hand and then you have to drag the app all the way down to the bottom of the screen until it disappears?

Also, the new Windows 8 is designed to have a special function in every corner of the screen. To open the Start screen you have to move your mouse into the lower left corner until a small Start screen popup appears and then click.

But what if you have two monitors and the right one is your primary monitor just like in my case? Try to quickly hit the small area on the bottom left of the right screen when the mouse cursor has a whole other screen to wander into…

That’s why I’m glad that I grew up during DR DOS and MS-DOS and still know how to use keyboard commands and shortcuts.

For example, I have not opened an MS Office program via icon in years. Not in Windows XP, not in Windows 7 and I won’t do it in Windows 8. You open the Run window via Windows key plus R (Win+R) and type “winword” or “excel” or “powerpnt” and off you go… For the Calculator “calc”, the Character Map “charmap”, the Paint program (e.g. for quick screenshots) “mspaint”, …

Luckily for me, Windows 8 brings some new shortcuts with it which can be used to open the most important functions. The keys used are not always intuitive but my guess is that the alphabet has only so many letters and many are already in use.

But nevertheless, why the function “Find Apps” has the shortcut Win+Q instead of Win+A and “Find Settings” has Win+W instead of Win+S I do not know.

So, here’s a list of shortcuts new and old that might come in handy for the usage of Windows 8:

Windows key (Win) – Formerly opened the Start menu, now opens the Start screen (no need to find the lower left corner of the screen). Press Win again and the Start screen closes.

Before Windows 8 I found this to be pointless unless you were unlucky enough to have a computer without a mouse. Now it actually becomes useful.

Win+Q – Opens the search for applications in the former start menu.

Win+W – Opens the search for settings.

Win+F – Opens the search for files.

Win+E – Opens a new instance of Windows Explorer.

Win+R – Opens the Run window.

Win+I – Opens the Settings sidebar.

Win+P – Opens the multi-screen options (e.g. to use a projector in a meeting).

Win+D – Shows the Desktop. Another press of Win+D returns all programs to their previous state (important difference to Win+M).

Win+L – Lock computer.

Win+X – Show a list of shortcuts to various system functions.

Win+C – Show the right side bar (no need to find the lower/upper right corner of the screen).

Win+M – Minimize all windows and thus show Desktop.

And here are some classics many people have never known or forgotten about:

Alt+F4 – Closes a program (e.g. your internet browser).

Ctrl+F4 – Closes the currently active window in the currently active program (e.g. one tab in your browser).

Print – Makes a screenshot of the whole screen (all screens if multiple monitors).

Alt-Print – Makes a screenshot of the currently active window.