Guide to Windows 8 shortcuts

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Guide to Windows 8 shortcuts

For all the slick touch-control features in Window 8, those without a touchscreen are at a disadvantage.

This makes keyboard shortcuts pretty important. As we found out after installing the OS, it's the little things that prove frustrating - like the Escape key not always taking you back to the Start screen.

Get the Windows 8 Consumer Preview here

The common theme uniting first-time users seems to be figuring out how to close apps. Microsoft has used a suspend-not-kill approach, which saves system resources, but can still mean you end up with a list of apps you'd rather see closed, than hanging around.

This post on the Windows blog is a good introduction to essential shortcuts for things like this. And there's a list of Windows 8 shortcuts you can download as a PDF. There's also a homebrew list here.


The Apps menu in Windows 8 Developer Preview. Click to enlarge.

The Windows key is an obvious one, but there are some other useful shortcuts for keyboard and mouse users including:

  • Closing apps: Pressing Escape on its own doesn’t "close" an app. To close completely, put the mouse in the top left corner of the screen to bring up active apps, then click to close. Or, press ALT-F4. Or, activate the task manager by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-ESCAPE, then close them. You can also "swipe" down the screen using the mouse, like you would using a finger.
  • Right click in an empty space (while in an app): brings up the app bar
  • Right click in the lower left corner to bring up advanced options: device manager, power options, command prompt, control panel, network connections etc.

One of the things that takes a bit of getting your head around is the contextual menu approach in Windows 8. Instead of heading to a central command centre to control things, menus and options will change according to what you are doing and what app you are in. The app bar, for example, shows the commands for that app. On a basic level it's similar to the way early Android phones followed the path of contextual menu options.

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