Essential Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts (Hotkeys)

Windows 8/8.1 comes with a new interface called Start (Metro). The classic Desktop interface is still available, but after you install Windows 8 you will have by default the new Start (Metro) interface which may be a little confusing. Also, Windows 8 comes with new features and new keyboard shortcuts.

Here is a list with essential hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts) that every new or experienced Windows 8 user should know.

Shortcut Description
Windows Key + D Show Desktop
Ctrl + Esc Show the Start screen
Windows Key Show or hide the Start screen
Windows Key + C Open the Charms menu
Windows Key + Q Search from Charms menu
Windows Key + E Open Windows (File) Explorer
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Taskbar
Windows Key + X Open Quick Link menu
Windows Key + R Open Run dialog
Windows Key + Enter Start / Stop Narrator
Windows Key + M Minimize all windows
Alt + Space + N Minimize the active window
Ctrl + Shift + N Create a new folder
Windows Key + L Lock the computer or Switch user
Alt + Tab Switch between active windows

Windows Key

If you don’t know already, this is the Windows Key.

Windows + D

Go to the classic Desktop, from the Start screen.

Ctrl + Esc

From the Desktop, go to the Start (Metro) screen.

Windows Key

Show or hide the Start screen. usually will switch between classic Desktop and Start screen.

Windows + C

The vertical menu from the right is called the Charms menu. By pressing these keys, you will activate it, no matter where you are (Desktop or Start screens).

Windows + Q

Activate the Search window.

Windows + E

Open Windows 8 File Explorer. From here, you can access all hard drives, CD-ROM, USB, network computers and essential Windows folders such as Downloads, Pictures, Documents.

Ctrl + Shift + Esc

It will open Task manager menu. From here you can check the hardware usage (CPU, RAM), view active applications and processes, terminate them and more.

Windows + X

Open a vertical menu with important links. From here, you can access Control Panel, Power Options, Programs, Search and many other essential Windows features.

Windows + R

For medium and advanced users, this command will open a small window where you can access different Windows features searching by name. For example, cmd will open the command line, control panel will open the Control Panel and so on.

Windows + Enter

This is a text-to-voice feature of Windows which is able to read for you different documents, texts or to read aloud what you are doing. Is useful for people with disabilities.
If you have activated Windows Narrator by mistake, press again Windows + Enter to close it.

Windows + M

This command will minimize all windows and will let a clean desktop.

Alt + Space + N

This command will minimize only the active window (only one window). To minimize all windows, press Windows Key + M.

Ctrl + Shift + N

Create a new folder. You can give it a name immediately by typing it.

Windows + L

Lock the computer (exit from the current working screen). Then, you can login as another user or if someone wants to login, must enter the password (if that user has a password).

Alt + Tab

Do you have many windows opened? You can switch between them, one by one, pressing Alt + Tab