Getting Around in Windows 8

imageThis isn’t a groundbreaking post, since there are quite a few articles out there that have mentioned various keyboard shortcuts available for Windows 8, but after a couple of days of switching my main machine to the Windows 8 Release Preview (and going cold turkey on Windows 7), I thought I’d pass on my own twist of the secret sauce for overcoming that “what there’s no start menu” moment.

My scenario as a quasi-developer and purveyor of PowerPoint has me spending much of my time in desktop mode on Windows 8, and probably like most of you, I’m not using a touch screen.  Hopefully, you’ve seen a few presentations on Windows 8 by now and are aware of the primary mouse interactions, namely,


Move mouse to… and..
Top left corner select from open applications
Bottom left corner bring up the Metro Start menu
Top right corner bring up the Charms bar
Bottom right corner bring up the Charms bar

These mouse movements do work regardless of whether you’re in Window 8 Metro or Desktop mode, but it can get tedious pushing the mouse into the appropriate corner to light up the various features. I also happen to have a multi-monitor setup, and although each monitor respects these corner gestures, my screens are in extend mode, making it a tad trickier to hit the corner just right.

Enter keyboard shortcuts. There are many, and I’m not one that’s wont to commit a bunch of arcane key combinations to memory, so the good news is that with just the following four (or arguably just the first three), I’ve actually found myself no longer instinctively moving to the bottom left to get too that “old” Start button -- you know the same Start button you’d click to shut down!

image switch to desktop mode (or if already there, toggle between minimizing and maximizing your open apps, which is the Windows 7 behavior)
image Bring up Settings Charm (Control Panel, Shutdown, etc.)
image Bring up the Search Screen (search for apps, files or settings)
image Open Windows File Explorer (same as in Windows 7)

And, of course, there’s a simple mnemonic here Do It Quickly Everytime – ok, that was a stretch, but I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly these key combinations become second nature.