Windows 8 Shortcuts: A Quick Reference Guide

Quick Reference And Keyboard Shortcuts New to Windows 8? Then print out our quick reference below

This is a brief guide to common keyboard shortcuts and commands in windows 8. There is a truly baffling array of keyboard shortcuts involving the Windows key (referred to as WIN in this guide). The Windows key has a picture of the Windows logo on it and is located on the left of the bottom row of the keyboard. In this guide, we will only cover the most useful functions. The other commands are available on Microsoft’s website, as a downloadable document.

Getting Around

Navigating through Windows 8 can be very challenging, especially to old hands. So, if things get too hairy while exploring the OS, WIN+M will minimize all the windows, and return to the desktop, which is handy for restoring your bearings. Going back to the start screen is as simple as pressing WIN again.

At the Desktop, WIN+F will allow you to search for files and WIN+Q brings up the application search bar, which helps find programs.

To cycle through programs, press WIN+T, until the desired program is found. To access the Charms window, use WIN+C.

Viewing and Security Options

If it’s hard to read anything on the screen, pressing WIN along with the plus and minus keys will cause the view to zoom in and out, and WIN+escape will close the magnifier and return the normal view. WIN+P brings up the multi-screen window, which switches the display between the computer monitor, and another display device such as a television. When scrolling through the start menu, use Page Up and Page Down to move the icons up and down. Locking the computer to prevent others from using it until a password is entered is as simple as pressing WIN+L.

Easy Access of Charms Menu

The Charms menu is the new tool bar for Windows 8, and much of the computer’s functionality can be accessed through it. With the mouse, it’s possible to open the charms menu by hovering the mouse in the upper right hand corner and then clicking on the charms, but for quicker access to more specific charms, there are keyboard shortcuts also available. The charms bar itself is accessed with WIN+C. The Share Charm, is accessed through WIN+H. To access the Settings Charm, press WIN+I, and the WIN+K brings up the Devices Charm.

Neat Tricks

WIN+Printscreen now takes a picture of your screen and saves it automatically in the “My Pictures” folder, with no need to paste it into an application such as MS paint. Also, the items in the task bar are now numbered from left to right, so pressing WIN+1 will open the first item in the task bar, WIN+2, the second, and so on. WIN+Enter will launch the Narrator, which will read the text on the screen aloud. For multiple monitor setups, it’s easy to quickly switch between active monitors by holding WIN+Shift and then pressing the left and right arrow keys.

Windows 8 is a huge change to the familiar Windows system, but once all of the commands become familiar, using the computer is much easier and more intuitive, according to many who have made the switch. Between the large, easily navigated Charms Menu and the dozens of keyboard shortcuts, there are certainly more ways to interact.

  • Windows key: Start Screen / Metro App switcher
  • Win + C : Charms bar
  • Win + D : Go straight to desktop
  • Win + E : Open the Windows Explorer
  • Win + F : Open File Search
  • Win + H : Open Share pane
  • Win + I : Open Settings
  • Win + K : Open Device panel
  • Win + L : Lock down
  • Win + M : Minimize
  • Win + O : Toggles device orientation lock on and off
  • Win + P : Switch to a second display or projector
  • Win + Q : Search Apps
  • Win + R : Run dialog
  • Win + U : Ease of Access Center
  • Win + V : Notifications
  • Win + W : Search your system settings
  • Win + X : Useful tools and applets
  • Win + Z : Show context menu
  • Win + + : Launch Magnifier and zoom in
  • Win + – : Zoom out
  • Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
  • Win + Enter : Launch Narrator
  • Win + PgUp : Move the current screen to the monitor on your left
  • Win + PgDn : Move the current screen to the monitor on your right
  • Win + PrtSc : Take screenshot
  • Win + Tab : Switch between apps


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