7 handy tips and keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8

Are you new to Windows 8? Adoption might be on the slow side, but of course, every day more and more people are turning to Microsoft’s latest desktop OS. And indeed, if you’re going to be a traditional desktop mouse and keyboard user – in other words, one not using Windows 8 with a tablet or touchscreen monitor – you’ll find there are a few things different on the Desktop side of the operating system.

Still, it’s not difficult to get to grips with – particularly with the help of these seven handy keyboard shortcuts and tips for helping you navigate Windows 8 more effectively.

1. Windows key

This simply opens the Metro Start screen. Press it again, and it switches back to the Desktop. Any time Windows suddenly throws you out to a Metro app (because you’ve opened a file tied to that app), all you have to do is hit the Windows key to nip straight back to the Desktop.

2. Just start typing

When you’re on the Metro Start screen, if you just start typing the name of a program or file you want, the OS will automatically bring up search results in a sidebar on the right. You can then click to launch the program, document or whatever. Using the drop-down menu at the top of the sidebar, you can specify that you want to search for files, images, video and so forth (the default is everything).

3. Control+Alt+Delete

This is a blast from the past, of course. Hitting the famous three-finger salute lets you Lock, Switch User, Sign Out, or open the Task Manager – but in Windows 8, the screen shown by this combo also lets you turn on Accessibility options and power-down options.

4. Ctrl+Shift+Esc

If you want to go directly to the task manager, this key combo is your ticket. It’s another classic from earlier Windows days.

5. Windows Key+E

This one is really handy: It opens the Windows Explorer in desktop mode, whether you're in Metro or desktop.

6. Windows Key+D

Want to minimise all your windows and get straight back to the desktop? Then use this little trick – pressing the combo again brings all your windows back up. To temporarily peek at the desktop, hit the Windows Key and the comma key.

7. Windows Key+C

Opens the Charm bar. Keyboarders may find this a lot more convenient than mousing to a right corner to access these main system functions. In fact, some of the Charms even have their own keyboard combo with the Windows key:

Windows Key+I: Brings up Settings

Windows Key+Q: Brings up Search

Windows Key+H: Brings up Share

Windows Key+K: Brings up Devices