Windows 8 is a big change from Windows 7. With features like the Metro start screen and charm bar, the interface has been completely reworked and the focus is on touch screen devices. That also means a whole new set of shortcut keys for keyboard devices too.
Return to start screen: Windows key
Windows 8 doesn’t have a start menu, at least not in the way we’re used to. Instead it has the Metro start screen. It displays your apps in a rough grid pattern that takes up most of the screen.
When you return to the Metro start screen you can browse through your apps, or begin typing to search for a specific app.
Open charm bar: Windows key c
The charm bar slides out from the right of the screen. It lets you access the following features:
- Start, for opening your apps;
- Device, for sending content to printers and other devices;
- Settings, for adjusting your apps and settings;
- Search, for searching your apps;
- Share, for sharing content with other people.
Open settings panel: Windows key i
Instead of going through the charm bar, you can open the settings panel directly to adjust the settings for the app you’re using. You’ll find the shutdown options here, as well as settings for things like volume, brightness and network connectivity.
You can also open the other panels in the charm bar directly:
- Start menu: Windows key x;
- Device panel: Windows key k;
- Search panel (apps): Windows key q;
- Share panel: Windows key h.
Return to classic desktop: Windows key d
The classic Windows desktop with the Recycle bin and other familiar features, is still there in Windows 8. It’s just tucked out of the way a bit more.
There are a couple of other keyboard shortcuts for classic Windows features:
- Open the notifications tray: Windows key b;
- Open Windows explorer: Windows key e;
- Open the run dialogue: Windows key r.
Open Ease of Access Center: Windows key u
The Ease of Access Center is still part of Windows 8. It contains the Magnifier, Narrator, and on screen keyboard applications, plus settings for making Windows easier to see, usable without a mouse or without sound. You can also start Narrator directly with Windows key enter.
There are many more Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts available. Download a spreadsheet of 30 Windows 8 shortcut keys (XLS, 26Kb), including those featured in this post.