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Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts Ultimate Guide

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcut Keys MetroIf you’ve installed Windows 8 in a VM, I’m finding Keyboard-Shortcuts are going to be your friend. Below is a list of Shortcuts I’ve found so far for Metro. I’m sure I’ve missed about… a million so if you see any I’ve not listed, please add your findings to the comments so we can build a nice comprehensive list.

I expect most of the standard desktop keyboard shortcuts from Windows 7 will still work outside the Metro UI so I’m only going to focus on Windows 8 Metro Keyboard Shortcut keys here. If you see something missing form the list below, please drop it in the comments and I’ll add it to the chart.


Charms : Icons on the right which offer Search, Share, Start Menu, Devices and Settings.

Windows Key : Windows Logo Key on a standard keyboard built for the Microsoft Windows OS.

App Key   : Application Key picturing a Mouse Cursor on a Menu.  Normally found to the Right of the Spacebar on a standard keyboard.

ESC : Escape Key on a standard keyboard.

Shift :  Shift Key on a standard keyboard.

ALT :  ALT Key on a standard keyboard.

PgUp / PgDown : The Page Up and Page Down Key on a standard keyboard.

Metro UI : Touch sensitive Windows 8 UI based off the Windows 7 Phone Metro UI Interface.  The Metro “desktop” hosts all Metro based Apps and Non-Metro based Icons.


Windows 8 Metro Keyboard Shortcut Keys

Windows Key Jump between Start Metro Desktop and Previous App
ESC Return to Previous App
Windows Key + spacebar Switch input language and keyboard layout
Windows Key + Y Peek at the Desktop
Windows Key + X Open Windows 8 Advanced Tools Context Menu
Windows Key + O Lock device orientation
Windows Key + V Cycle through toasts
Windows Key + Shift + V Cycle through toasts in reverse order
Windows Key + Enter Launch Narrator
Windows Key + PgUp Move Tiles to the Left
Windows Key + PgDown Move Tiles to the Right
Windows Key + Shift + . Move Metro App Split Screen Left
Windows Key + . Move Metro App Split Screen Right
Winodws Key + S Open App Search
Windows Key + F Open File Search
Windows Key + C Open Charms Bar
Windows Key + I Open Charms Settings
Windows Key + K Opens Connect Charm
Windows Key + H Open Share Charm
Windows Key + Q Open Search Pane
Windows Key + W Open Search Settings
Windows Key + Z Open App Bar
Arrow Keys Select Metro Apps Left, Right, Up, Down
CTRL + Arrow Right Move 1 Page Right on Metro UI Menu
CTRL + Arrow Left Move 1 Page Left on Metro UI Menu
Arrow Key, ALT + Arrow Right Move Metro App Right
Arrow Key, ALT + Arrow Left Move Metro App Left
Arrow Key, ALT + Arrow Up Move Metro App Up
Arrow Key, ALT + Arrow Down Move Metro App Down
Windows Key + L Lock Screen
Windows Key + E Launch Windows Explorer on Classic Desktop
Windows Key + R Launch Run Box on Classic Desktop
Windows Key + P Projector Mode – Select Projector Output
Windows Key + U Launch Ease of Access Center
Windows Key + T Launch Classic Desktop with Arrow Key Icon Selection
Windows Key + X Launch Windows Mobility Center on Classic Desktop
Windows Key + B Launch Classic Desktop with Arrow Key Taskbar Icon Selection
Windows Key + M Launch Classic Desktop with Arrow Key Desktop Icon Selection
Windows Key + D Jump to Desktop Mode from anywhere
Arrow Key, App Key Display Unpin Option and Advanced Metro Icon Icons
ALT + F4 Key Closes the active app.
ALT + F4 Key (From the Desktop) Shutdown, Sleep, Switch User, Restart Computer


General Keyboard Shortcuts

  • F1  ::  Display Help
  • F2  ::  Rename the selected item
  • F3  ::  Search for a file or folder
  • F4  ::  Display the Address bar list in Windows Explorer
  • F5 – Refresh the active window
  • F6  ::  Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop
  • F7  ::  Check Spelling in open document
  • F10  ::  Activate the menu bar in the active program
  • CTRL+A  ::  Select all items in a document or window
  • CTRL+C  ::  Copy the selected item
  • CTRL+X  ::  Cut the selected item
  • CTRL+V  ::  Paste the selected item
  • CTRL+Z  ::  Undo an action
  • CTRL+Y  ::  Redo an action
  • SHIFT+DELETE  ::  Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first  (Outlook Tip also)
  • SHIFT+F10  ::  Display the shortcut menu for the selected item
  • SHIFT when you insert a CD  ::  Prevent the CD from automatically playing
  • CTRL+ESC  ::  Open the Start menu
  • CTRL+SHIFT with an arrow key  ::  Select a block of text
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC  ::  Open Task Manager
  • CTRL+F4  ::  Close the active document (in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)
  • CTRL+ALT+TAB  ::  Use the arrow keys to switch between open items
  • CTRL+Mouse scroll wheel  ::  Change the size of icons on the desktop
  • ALT+ESC  ::  Cycle through items in the order in which they were opened
  • ALT+ENTER  ::  Display properties for the selected item
  • ALT+F4  ::  Close the active item, or exit the active program
  • ALT+SPACEBAR  ::  Open the shortcut menu for the active window
  • ALT+UP ARROW  ::  View the folder one level up in Windows Explorer
  • ALT+TAB  ::  Switch between open items
  • ALT+SHIFT+TAB  ::  Switch between open items in reverse order
  • Windows logo key + TAB  ::  Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D
  • CTRL+Windows logo key + TAB  ::  Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D
  • ESC  ::  Cancel the current task

Did I miss one?  Drop it in the comments.

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26 Responses to Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts Ultimate Guide

  1. Erehwon September 15, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    So I’m stuck on something simple – say you’re in control panel. Dumb questions of the day – here it comes!

    How do you close / exit out of it?

    • MrGroove September 15, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      No questions are dumb.

      Option 1 – If your on a tablet, just Swipe from Right side to Left and Tap Start after the Charm on the right shows up.

      Option 2 – If you have a keyboard, just press the Windows Key 1x. Press the Windows Key again to jump back to the Control Panel again.

      Option 3 – Press Windows Key + C to bring up the Charm Bar. Click the Start Button.

      • Erehwon September 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

        Correct pressing the windows key gets you out – but if you launch task manager you’ll notice you haven’t exited out of the application. After a while you simply continue to build the task list with running apps. You’re not truly closing the app but rather doing something akin to alt+tab.

        • Nate Lawrence September 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

          @Erehwon, I know what you mean.

          One thing to understand is that all Metro style apps operate like mobile apps: that is to say, whenever they aren’t onscreen, they are suspended – completely locked out of using the CPU and GPU, although they stay in RAM. According to one of the Microsoft guys who was being interviewed on Wednesday on Channel 9 Live, if you open too many Metro style apps, Windows can choose to automatically close some of the suspended Metro style apps.

          I say that, basically to say that although the Metro style apps aren’t ‘closed’, it shouldn’t really make a difference to the performance of the apps that you’re currently running, because whatever is visible onscreen should have the full CPU and GPU at its disposal and the maximum numberof Metro apps that you can see at any one time is 2.

          The only real irritation in the apps not being truly ‘closed’, for me, is that whenever you go to use [Alt]+[Tab], there are far too many windows to tab through – sort of like a browser window where every page in your history is still open in its own tab. Hopefully the “Windows 8” Beta will improve this or at least introduce a way to close apps from an [Alt]+[Tab] type interface, similar to the app switching screen in Windows Phone Mango.

          • MrGroove September 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

            Awesome comment Nate and very good points. Good to know!

            I’m with you. I have a tablet and since there is no way to close the apps, when I slide from Left to Right to go between the apps, I have to go through the ones I want closed…. It would be nice if there was a “close” button since it’s not very easy to get into the Task Manager to kill the apps without a keyboard.

            That said, I’m sure they will have a simple solution once they progress beyond the Dev. Beta build.


          • No Name Guy June 29, 2012 at 9:55 am #

            Drag the app down from the top all the way to the bottom

          • Nick March 3, 2012 at 10:55 am #

            You can close a metro app by holding down Windows+Tab, then use the mouse to right click the App you want to close and click “Close”. I’m still trying to figure out a way to do this without the mouse..

          • Alan January 3, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

            Hi. Just use Windows+Tab as you said then use your arrow keys to select the app you want to close, press the keyboard Right Click Menu key (to the right of Spacebar. If it doesn’t let you select the one you want with the arrow key, you can keep the list open by pressing the Menu key then Escape key to let you then use the Arrow key to select the app you want to close) and the press the Right click Menu key and use your down arrow to select close. Then press Enter on Close. Hope this isn’t too confusing.

  2. Erehwon September 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm #


    Checked what you’re referring to – had the RSS reader, weather, and twitter ruining. Hit the task manager and found them all running. Dont know if this is a result of running this in a VM or expected behavior. Bottom line is I was actually trying to hit task manager cause the VM locked up taking too many resources.

    Again thanks for the complete break down there.

  3. Albert Ryba October 18, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    I hate Metro 🙁 It is similar mistake as a Ribbon…

    • Steve Krause June 29, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      @260684cbdfca02f97a79958045d67282:disqus thanks for the comment. At first I agreed 100% but after using Windows 8 for awhile, I’m getting used to it (Just like the ribbon).

      I think what we are used to is just an affect of what Microsoft trained us to think is normal. I think give it time and things will settle down a bit.

      • JD February 14, 2013 at 9:00 am #

        I would compare it to MS’s failed Bob operating system. I find it extremely hard to navigate on laptop with a touch pad. It seems any long movement of the cursor causes the metro screen to pop up, even if I am in the middle of an app on the other “windows 7” type of screen. Also, I added the desktop shortcut to the status bar, but to get to the control panel on it is impossible with a touch pad, as the movements I need to get to it cause the charms menu to open up and closes my menu. Also, once I open something in metro (world clock for example), how do I close it? If I just tap the windows key to take me back to metroland, is the clock app closed or just minimized somewhere? And finally, I find it extremely confusing to be in IE in the “windows 7” desktop, then have the metro IE open up and be on a different site. Why have two instances of IE running? And don’t get me started on how complicated they have now made it to simply shut down. Oh, did I mention I regularly lose wifi for no reason and have to reboot (sometimes more than once) to get it back? I really don’t see what anyone likes about Windows 8. I have wasted so much time just trying to do basic things that I find it unworkable.

  4. Guy December 29, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Can someone teach me how to “print screen” without having to flip over to desktop view?

  5. Luc March 5, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    To close an app you can do this (haven’t tested this myself):

    “Grab an app and drag it down to the bottom edge of the screen to quit it”

    • JerryCar March 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      if you are using a tablet then you can close any app including the traditional Windows desktop. ( which acts like an APP )

      touch the screen on the top of the screen in the middle

      Drag your finger to the center of the screen. this will make the app into a smaller window in the center.

      now ” FLICK ” the window into the bottom midle of the screen and it will close.

      I know it seems hard but once you try it and understand it is very cool.

      here is video of a guy showing it.

  6. Prakasha April 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Windows + D to go to Desktop mode from anywhere. It takes you to the desktop mode from any metro app.

    • Steve Krause June 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      Missed that one. Thanks @5f4284eb85b7ba14ec417e296168def0:disqus. Added.

      • Paul Braren January 9, 2013 at 4:51 am #

        Steve, awesome!

        Just adding some subtle points about the Windows key.

        Use it to bring up metro UI. Use it again to head right back to desktop. Again to bring up metro UI. A toggle.

        Well, then again, if you’re in a metro app, use Windows key to get back to metro ui, and again to get back to desktop. So not really a toggle.

        But it does help get you out of more than the Esc key does, which is a great reason for the physical Windows key on tablets/Surface!

        Great article!

  7. Sujit April 23, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    To close an app, Alt+F4 still works. Bummer for those without keyboards, though.

    • Steve Krause June 29, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Ah nice. I missed that one. I’ll add it now.

  8. Derrell April 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Shortcuts Key: From Metro screen, simply click the period “.”. takes directly to APPS

    • Steve Krause June 29, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      @4e412458c280a1d22f5d1c03fe54c7a1:disqus great tip. I’ve found if you hit almost any key including “period” it opens the apps menu and start searching. That’s a great thing about Metro — Just start typing to search.

  9. wcoelho October 4, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Hi Steve! CTRL+INS (same than CTRL+V) doesn’t work in Win 8. SHIFT+INS
    (CTRL+C) keeps working… do you know if there is a way to enable
    CTRL+INS? I always use this sequence in Win 7 and so I get angry all the
    time when trying to copy and there is nothing in the clipboard… rs.

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