How to make good use of the Windows key

For most people, the Windows key (you know, the one with the flag on it?) just sits neglected on their keyboard. You might hit Control a lot, and you’ll doubtless hit Alt with considerable abandon in your daily typing, too – but as for the key in between those two… odds are it has a coating of dust.

And that’s a real shame as there are actually some pretty nifty uses for the Windows key. For example, say you’ve got a whole load of windows open – minimising them all is a pain, right? Well, you can simply minimise the lot and see the desktop immediately by pressing the Windows key + D. Another press will restore all your windows.

So, in this article we’re presenting you with our favourite Windows key shortcuts. Learn them, use them, and make your Windows experience that little bit slicker…

Windows+D: Show the desktop. Press it again to bring back your open windows.

Windows+M: Minimise all windows.

Shift+Window+[number]: Opens the window of the correspondingly numbered Taskbar button, starting from the left as 1, the next is 2, and so on.

Windows+E: Open the Computer window to show drives and their used space.

Windows+Home: Minimise all but the active window.

Windows+Shift+Up Arrow: Stretch the window to the top and bottom of the screen.

Windows+Shift+Left Arrow or Right Arrow: Move a window from one monitor to another – this one is a little complicated, but if you use multiple monitors, it pays off.

Windows+L: Lock the system – i.e. log out and require a login to use the system.

Windows+P: Show presentation display mode options.

Windows+R: Open the Run dialogue box.

Windows+U: Open the Ease of Access centre (to optimise your PC for ease of use).

And don’t forget that pressing the Windows key on its own brings up the Start screen (so in Windows 8, you can use it to quickly flick between the new-style Metro UI and traditional desktop).