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Windows keys

The computer corner

By Charles Miller

There is a key on the keyboard of all Windows computers called the [Windows] key, and many people who learn what it can do are thrilled. For those who have yet to discover it, this is the key with the Windows logo that looks like a little flag.

First, a very brief refresher on combination keys: When you read the names of two keys enclosed in braces, such as [Shift A], this means you are supposed to hold down on the first key while pressing the second key before releasing both; in this case [Shift A] changes lower case “a” to capital “A” (I think you knew that one already). [Ctrl Alt Del] means to hold down the [Ctrl] key, then continue holding it down while you next hold down the [Alt] key, then finally tap the [Del] key before releasing all three.

There are 26 letters of the English alphabet and almost all of them have some combination key shortcut that can be used with the [Windows] key to automate everyday tasks. Microsoft added quite a few new combinations only for Windows 8, but many work with older Windows versions. Some readers will find one or more of these shortcuts useful, so let us take a tour through the alphabet.

[Windows C] opens the Windows 8 “Charm” Menu and is much less frustrating than using the mouse to try to find that hidden spot near the edge of the screen that shows this menu.

[Windows D] will instantly hide or unhide all open windows on the desktop. This is the quickest way to see all the icons of your desktop.

[Windows E] opens the Windows Explorer and is quicker than finding the “My Computer” or “This PC” icon on the desktop or clicking the start button and “Computer”.

[Windows F] opens up a search screen where you can find things you may have lost. Alternatively, you can just press the [Windows] key alone and start typing from there.

[Windows H] in Windows 8 opens up the “Share” Charm menu. [Windows I] opens up the “Settings” Charm menu. [Windows K] opens up the “Devices” Charm menu.

[Windows L] will instantly lock your computer, requiring you to enter your log-on password to resume. This is a handy shortcut to use when stepping away from your computer.

[Windows M] instantly minimizes all windows, which is almost the same as the [Windows D] shortcut, except it actually minimizes all the windows rather than hiding them. [Windows Shift M] maximizes all minimized windows, which is not quite the same as [Windows D]. Try them both to see the difference.

[Windows P] opens the controls for a projector if you have one, or if you have two monitors, allows you to change how your second screen is used.

[Windows Q] in Windows 8 opens start menu to all apps and sets the focus to the search charm.

[Windows R] opens the “Run” command; a favorite shortcut used by technicians.

[Windows T] toggles through the icons on the task bar, where you can either click the mouse or press the enter key to switch to the highlighted window. This is almost the same as [Alt Tab].

[Windows U] opens the “Ease of Access Centre.”

[Windows V] in Windows 8 navigates through any notifications you currently have, and [Windows Shift V] navigates through them in reverse order.

[Windows W] in Windows 8 opens the Start screen with a search field to search the “Settings.”

[Windows X] Opens the “Mobility Center” in Windows 7 or the “Power User” menu in Windows 8.

[Windows PrtScr] is absolutely my favorite Windows 8 shortcut. This grabs a picture of your screen and saves it directly to your Pictures folder.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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