[Windows 8] 27 hotkeys everyone should know

Windows 8 is the first version of Windows that focus on touchscreen gestures and experiences and still keeps the traditional desktop for non-touch users. This “hybrid” environment causes big problems for users with mouse and keyboard. Thankfully, Windows 8 provides you a lot of keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys) to master its new touch interface. In this article, I will list some of the most important hotkeys of Windows 8.


The Start screen is the new start menu of Windows 8. If you are using Windows 8, you will likelt want to know how to open the Start screen if you ever go away from it. Opening the Start screen from anywhere is as easy as pressing the Windows key on your keyboard — the same way you open Start menu in other versions of Windows.


Charms bar is a go-to menu for Windows 8 that pops up at the side of your screen and allows you access to many important functions of Windows 8. Below are hotkeys that relate to Charms bar and related functionality.

  • Windows + C – Open Charm bar
  • Windows + F – Open Search
  • Windows + H – Open Share
  • Windows + K – Open Devices
  • Windows + I – Open Settings


There are three things you can search easily in Windows 8 – Apps, Settings and Files. While at the Start screen (press Windows key to open Start screen), you can easily search by simply typing. By default, it will search your apps; you can change to other things by either selecting the option from the Search panel or using the hotkeys below.

  • Windows + Q – Search your apps
  • Windows + W – Search settings
  • Windows + F – Search for files


In my opinion, switching between Windows Store apps is so hard by using the mouse. These hotkeys below will help you to solve this inconvenience.

  • Windows + Tab – Switch between open apps, the desktop, and other open windows
  • Windows + Ctrl + Tab – Snap the app switcher to the left of your screen so that you can choose which app you want using your mouse
  • Alt + Tab – Open app switcher, which allows you to preview and switch to other open apps and windows
  • Windows + T – Preview opened windows in the Taskbar
  • Windows + D – Go directly to the desktop from whatever app or window you have open


You can easily navigate Windows Store app with these hotkeys.

  • Windows + Q – Search
  • Windows + Z or Menu key (the key usually is placed between right ALT and Ctrl key) – Show app bar
  • Ctrl + plus (+) – Zoom in
  • Ctrl + minus (-) – Zoom out


In Windows 8, you can snap a an app or window to the right or the left of the screen easily with your touch gestures. For desktop users, there are hotkeys to perform this action.

  • Windows + Shift + period (.) – Snap a window or app to the left
  • Windows + period (.) – Snap a window or app to the right


  • Windows + Print Screen (prt sc) – Take a screenshot of your whole screen and then automatically it save as PNG file in Pictures Library
  • Windows + X – Open System Utility menu in bottom-left corner
  • Windows + E – Open Windows Explorer
  • Windows + M – Minimize all apps
  • Windows + L – Lock your Windows
  • Windows + O – Lock device (tablet) orientation
  • Windows + R – Open “Run” dialog
  • Windows + Spacebar – Switch input language


These are the basic hotkeys you should remember to make work or play easier in Windows 8. They seem like a lot to memorize but don’t worry, — after using them many times, they will gradually become like second nature. Hope you can remember all of them!

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  • Namian

    Great read, most of them are quite the same as Windows 7 but since I am switching to Windows 8 myself soon I found those hotkeys as well http://www.computersnake.com/hotkeys/Windows-windows

  • thinkpozzitive

    As far as hotkeys go – if you’re a Mac user running Windows 8 in bootcamp, I’ve used this guide to grasp at the win8 main keyboard shortcuts, and the apple keyboard mappings for windows available through the bootcamp drivers: http://usefulmix.com/boot-camp-keyboard-mappings-for-windows/

  • Hoàng Tú

    I think you don’t know about the snap in Metro apps. In Windows 8, a Metro app has three form – full screen, 1/4 screen and 3/4 screen. For example, you can have the Mail app snapped to the left side which uses 1/4 space of your screen and the Calendar app uses the remain 3/4 screen. To do this, you just move your mouse to the top edge of the app then drag it to which side you want. You can also move your mouse to the upper left corner to bring up the app switcher and drag the app you want to snap.

  • Coyote

    @Hoàng Tú:

    That may all be true for the desktop mode but with them pushing metro apps and the metro interface none of what you said applies. Within metro there is no concept of multitasking within the same window. You want the calendar you pull it up full screen, though I can’t imagine why I would need my calendar taking up the full screen of my 23″ monitor. Now if I want to look at my email to add a sequence of dates I need to task switch back and forth.

  • Tom

    Remember 27 OS hotkeys? Are you kidding? I did good to add Win+C to my repertoire.

  • Hoàng Tú

    You can still have side by side windows on the Desktop just like Windows 7- Just drag your window to the right or left edge of the screen then release it. There are also the hotkeys to do that – Windows + right arrow to snap to the right and Windows + left arrow to snap to the left.
    In Windows 8, even I can work with three “windows”: a Windows Store app and two splited desktop windows on my whole screen.

  • Coyote

    And yet no way to show 2 windows at the same time…. However I did find another you don’t have listed – win+, shows the “real” desktop for as long as you hold down the keys… not really sure what good that does other than now I can actually see the time when I want.

    It continues to baffle me how people aren’t lynching the microsoft programmers and burning Redmond to the ground. For 20 years I’ve been able to see the time, have my calendar up, and display the music track I’m listening to. All while working on 2 windows split screen to compare and edit documents. And then of all things they remove all that functionality for a plain tile screen that lags my computer and still can’t show the damn time and allow me to work at the same time.