Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows 8 Tablets

By Andy Rathbone

Tablets work best with your fingers — until you find yourself on the Windows 8 desktop. Then, most people plug in a mouse and keyboard to help them grab the desktop’s tiny window borders and information-packed menus.

That’s when these keyboard shortcuts come in handy. Don’t try to memorize them all; just pick out the ones that look helpful to how you work. You can always peek back here if you need the others.

The shortcut keys all use the Windows key on your keyboard, not the Windows key built into the front of your tablet’s case.

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
Press this . . . To do this . . .
Win Toggles between the Start screen and your last-used app.
Win+1 While on the desktop, pressing this launches the first program
listed on the taskbar. (That’s Internet Explorer, unless
you’ve changed it.) Similarly, pressing Win+2 launches the
second program on the taskbar, which is File Manager.
Win+C Toggles the Charms bar (and shows the time and date, as well)
on and off.
Win+D Loads the Desktop app.
Win+E Opens File Explorer to the Computer section.
Win+F Opens the Charms bar and search for Files.
Win+I Opens the Charms bar’s Settings icon, for changing the
open app’s settings, as well as access to settings for
networks, volume, screen brightness, notifications, power, and
keyboard (language).
Win+L Returns to the Lock screen.
Win+M On the desktop, minimizes all open windows.
Win+O Toggles screen rotation lock. (The Surface RT’s clip-on
keyboard prevents the screen from rotating when the keyboard is
attached.)
Win+P Configures second monitor or projector.
Win+Q Opens the Charms bar to search for apps.
Win+U Switches to the Desktop’s Ease of Access Center.
Win+W Opens the Charms bar to search for settings.
Win+X Displays a shortcut menu in the screen’s bottom, left
corner.
Win+Z Displays an app’s menus.
Win+Tab Cycles through all the open apps.