Mastering Windows 8: Ten Must-Use Keyboard Shortcuts

How using the right keyboard shortcuts can make your Windows 8 experience smoother and faster.

Microsoft’s new Windows 8 is faster and more responsive than ever but it’s not without its share of challenges. The look and feel is not at all like previous versions and the new interface can seem daunting. But don’t worry, solutions are not far away.

You’ve read about the missing Start Button and what you can do about it. You know how System Mechanic works with Windows 8 to keep your computer running smoothly. Now see how you can further enhance your Windows 8 experience through keyboard shortcuts.

Quick and easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts have long been a favorite of Windows users, and Windows 8 continues in that tradition with a list of key combinations. The options have been tried and tested, and there are 10 that you’ll want to try right away. Turns out CTRL+C was only the beginning…

(Note that we’ve used the abbreviation “Win” to refer to the Windows Key, which is usually located between the Ctrl and Alt keys and to the left of the space bar.)

  1. Win + D: Show Desktop
    Windows 8 is designed to be used outside of the old Desktop-focused paradigm, but some still prefer the Desktop and like to be able to get to it quickly. Which is where this shortcut comes in. Combine Win+D to easily get back to the Desktop from wherever you are.
  1. Win + C: Open Charms
    One of biggest changes in Windows 8 was the addition of the Charms bar, the overlay menu that appears on the right side of your screen with options for Search and Settings, among others. This feature is supposedly called Charms because the icons look like something you’d see on a charm bracelet. To make this menu appear without moving the mouse, type Win+C.You can also quickly jump to some of the options within the Charms bar, such as:
    • Win+Q for the Search Charm
    • Win+K for the Devices Charm
    • Win+H for the Share Charm
    • Win+I for the Settings Charm
  1. Win + L: Switch Users (or Lock Up)
    If your device has more than one user and you want to switch between accounts, Win+L is the way to go. Plus if you’re on a network and the only user set up on the device, this keyboard shortcut will lock the screen to prevent unauthorized use until you return or log back in.
  1. Win + Z: Open App Bar
    Want easy access to whatever you have installed in the App bar? Win+Z opens it right up.
  1. Win + +/-: Zoom in/out
    Is that text too small to read without squinting? Zoom in to your heart’s content by launching the zoom control by clicking Win +. Then use Win + to zoom in further or Win – to zoom back out.
  1. CTRL + Z: Undo
    Whoops—did you make a mistake while typing or moving a file? Hit CTRL+Z quickly and Windows will undo your error.
  1. CTRL + Esc: Start Screen
    If you start to get lost in all the App action and want to get back to the Start Screen, CTRL+Esc will get you there in a flash.
  1. ALT + Tab: Switch between Apps
    Windows 8 is designed to be app-focused and you might have several apps running at the same time. Holding ALT and hitting Tab allows you to toggle between apps. When you find the one you’re looking for (or want to stay on), simply let go of the ALT key and you’ll jump right into the app.
  1. CTRL+ Shift + Esc: Task Manager
    Remember that old Windows trick to see what’s running on your computer and close out programs if needed? The Task Manager is still a Windows essential and CTRL+Shift+Esc will pop open the slick new version of it.
  1. Win + PrtScn
    Last but not least, here’s the easiest way to grab a screenshot. Whether you want to save something important you came across online or simply want to share what you see on your screen, pair up Win+PrtScn and Windows 8 will grab a screenshot. The image gets saved to your Pictures folder and you can share it however you’d like.

Windows 8 is revolutionizing the way we use PCs and iolo wants you to get the most out of your operating system. These simple keyboard shortcuts can make your workflow even more efficient and help you stay ahead of the technology curve.

And remember: When all else fails, try hitting Escape. It just might help.

For a detailed list of all Windows 8 hotkeys, click here:

If you need help with your PC or any other digital device, call iolo for premium tech support at (877) 354-2956.

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UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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Mastering Windows 8: Ten Must-Use Keyboard Shortcuts