Even though Windows 8 was designed with touchscreens in mind, there are still plenty of clever ways to zip around the new Windows using nothing but your keyboard.
Read on seven of my favorite Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts, including one that’ll help you return to the Start screen with a single keystroke, another that makes searching a breeze, and a third that reveals the new Windows “charms” that hide behind the right side of the screen.
1. The Windows key
Before the new Windows came around, tapping the Windows key would open the late, lamented Start menu.
Now, under Windows 8, pressing the Windows key takes you to the Start menu’s replacement: the eye-popping Start screen.
Tap the Windows key again, and you’ll jump to the last app you were using—such as, say, the Windows Desktop app.
2. Windows key + C
Looking for search, sharing, and settings features in Windows 8? You’ll find them hidden in the “charm” menu on the right side of the screen.
There are a few different ways to open the slide-out charm menu: you can mouse to the top- or bottom-right corner of the screen, or swipe in from the right side of a touchscreen-enabled Windows 8 PC.
Or, just do this: press Windows key + C (for “charm,” I’m guessing). Done.
3. Just start typing
Want to search your PC? One way is to open the “charm” panel and click the “Search” icon.
Here’s an easier way, though: From the Start screen, just start typing the name of whatever you’re searching for.
The Search menu will open automatically, and search results will start popping up immediately.
4. Windows key + H, or I, or K, or F
What about the other “charms” in the charm panel—are there shortcuts for them? You bet.
Just tap the Windows key then press H (for the Share charm), I (for Settings), K (for Devices), or F (for Search—although again, you can search by simply typing your search terms directly from the Start screen).
5. Windows key + Z
So, feeling a little lost in the new, touch-friendly Windows 8 apps—you know, the ones with interfaces so sparse that they hardly have any buttons at all?
The trick is to remember the hidden strip of “app commands” along the bottom of the screen.
To reveal the app commands, you have a few different options: you can right-click the screen, for example, or swipe up from the bottom of the display (assuming you’re using a touchscreen PC or tablet).
But if you prefer an old-school keyboard shortcut, try this: Windows key + Z.
6. ALT + F4
Quits the Windows 8 app that’s currently running. From the “classic” Windows desktop, ALT + F4 will launch the system shutdown window. (Thanks for the tip, Mark!)
7. CONTROL + “+” or “-“
Got several “groups” of tiles cluttering your Start screen? Press the Control key plus “-” key for a zoomed-out, big-picture view of all your tiles, or Control plus the “+” key to zoom in again.
Got more Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts you’d like to share? Post ‘em below!
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