Windows 8 keyboard and swipe commands


Editor's note: Also read "Windows 8: Jump or wait?" in the November 2012 issue of the JofA.


Windows + Arrow Keys: Use this to place an application window to the left/right of the screen and also to maximize/minimize.

Windows + Shift + Arrow Keys: Maximize, restore and move any window.

Windows Key + , (Comma): Aero Peek function.

Windows + Numeric Keys (1-0): The system will open the corresponding program in the Taskbar. For example, Windows + 1 will open the first element presented in taskbar while Windows + 3 will open the third.

Windows + Shift + Numeric Keys (1-0): The corresponding program in the taskbar opens in a new window.

Windows + B: Go back to desktop.

Windows + Pause/Break: Display System Properties window.

Windows + E: Opens Windows Explorer, in the Computer.

Windows + G: Runs gadgets from Desktop if you have installed any.

Windows + M: Minimizes all windows.

Windows + Shift + M: Restores all minimized windows.

Windows + R: Opens the Run.

Windows + T: Preview Opened Windows in Taskbar.

Windows + Alt + Enter: Opens the Media Center.

Windows + U: Opens the Ease of Access Center

Windows + Q: Use this combination to find an application.

Windows + W: To search directly into the system settings.

Windows + F: Search directly into files.

Windows + O: Locking the orientation of the device.

Windows + Z: Open the App Bar. This is similar to Taskbar showing all opened programs.

Directional Arrows: You can use them to explore the Start screen tiles.

Windows + P: Opens projection options for two monitors (duplicate, extend, etc.).

Windows + L: Lock the computer (if connected to a network) or switch between users (if not connected).

Windows + X: Opens a menu in the lower left corner, which offers access to different areas of the system.

Windows + "-" (Minus) or "+" (Plus): Decreases or increases the zoom with Magnifier.

Windows + ESC: Closes Magnifier.

Windows + Spacebar: Configure the language and keyboard layout.

Windows + Enter: Opens the Narrator.

Windows + C: Opens the Charms Bar which is on the right side of screen and has shortcuts to settings, devices, share, and search and also to the Start screen.

Windows + R: Opens the settings panel from where you can turn off the computer, set the current application, adjust the volume, check the network and adjust the brightness.

Windows + K: Opens the device setting panel, from where you can set up a projector or other device if connected.

Windows + H: Open the Sharing pane (Metro Share function).

Windows + Tab: Switch between opened windows.

Windows + Shift + Tab: Switch between opened windows in reverse order.

Windows + Print Screen: Capture a screenshot, saving it in PNG format in the library.

Windows + Page Up or Page Down: Switch between primary and secondary display.

Ctrl + Scroll Mouse Wheel: On Start screen – increases or decreases the zoom. On the desktop – changes the size of icons or letters.

Ctrl + Shift + N: Creates a new folder in the current directory.


1. Swipe from the right (Charms menu)

When you pull your finger from the bezel on the right side of a tablet to the left a little bit you bring up the Windows 8 “charms.” These include the Search, Share, Devices, and Settings icons — as well as a shortcut to the Start Screen.

2. Swipe from the left (Switch apps)

When you have multiple apps running you can slide your finger from the left screen bezel to the right to switch between them. This is sort of like the Modern UI version of Alt+Tab.

3. Swipe slowly from the left (Snap apps)

If you perform the same left-to-right action more slowly, instead of switching from one full screen app to another you can drag one app out and display it side-by-side with the app that was already on your screen.

One app will take up about a quarter of the display while the other takes up three quarters. You can decide which app gets more room by dragging the black bar in the center.

4. Swipe from left-and-back (Show running apps)

You can drag your finger from the left edge of the touchscreen and then quickly drag it back to bring up a bar that shows thumbnail images of all the apps that are currently running. Tap on any app to switch to it, or tap the icon at the bottom to return to the Start Screen.

5. Pull down from the top (Close app)

You can close an app that’s currently running by starting at the top bezel and pulling your finger about halfway down the screen. Imagine you’re throwing the app in an invisible trash bin at the bottom.

6. Swipe down (Bring up additional menus)

While you can access app settings from the Charms menu, pulling down from the top of the screen or up from the bottom can bring up additional menu options. Just make sure to only drag your finger a tiny bit — pulling too far from the top bezel can close an app (see above).

For instance, in Internet Explorer 10, pulling down a little from the top brings up the tab menu showing a list of currently open browser tabs as well as a new tab button. This also brings up the URL bar.

On the Windows Start Screen pulling down (or up) brings up an option to view all the apps on your PC, not just those that are pinned to the Start Screen.

7. Swipe down on an item (Select)

At the Start Screen, you can swipe downward on any tile to select it and bring up additional options. For instance, you can resize a tile, uninstall an app, un-pin an app from the Start Screen, or turn of the “live tile” so that the shortcut is still on the Start Screen but the app won’t display constantly updated information.

8. Pinch (Zoom)

Over the past few years pinching has become the de facto zoom control on touch-based operating systems. Windows 8 is no different and you can pinch to zoom in the Internet Explorer 10 web browser, making text and images larger.

You can also zoom out of the Start screen, allowing you to quickly move to another area if you have many apps installed.

9. Swipe left/right in Internet Explorer (Move back, forward)

When using Internet Explorer 10 in Metro mode, there are icons in the URL menu bar for moving back to the previous page or forward to the one you just left to go back.

But you can also perform these actions with touch-based gestures. Just slide your finger from the left side of the screen to the right to go back, or from right to left to go forward.

While most of the gestures listed above require you to start from the screen bezel, moving forward or back in IE10 only works if you don’t start from the bezel. That’s because you don’t want to switch applications or bring up the Charms menu. So you just touch the web page you’re looking at and swipe left or right.


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