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Gadget Help: All the Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts you need to know

Windows 8 is a pretty daunting affair for some, and for those who are familiar with previous versions it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for, especially if you want to do it quickly.

Thankfully as with all versions of Windows there are shortcuts that will find you those hard-to-find features that you’ll no doubt spend ages looking for otherwise. There are hundreds of key combinations that will give you a shortcut to certain applications or functions, and here are the ones you need to learn.


With a non-touchscreen device you’re forced to bury your cursor in the bottom right corner in order to access the charm bar. Use these shortcuts for the charms:

For reference, the Windows key is located next to CTRL in the bottom left corner of the keyboard.

Windows + C: Open charms
Windows + Q: Search charm
Windows + H: Share charm
Windows + K: Devices charm
Windows + I: Settings charm


Windows 8 consists of the new-look start menu with app tiles, and the classic Windows desktop – rather confusing. Switching between the two is easy once you learn these simple shortcuts.

Windows (when on either desktop: Switch between Start Menu and Classic Desktop
Windows + D: Open Classic Desktop
Windows + <: Peek at Desktop


The new Start Menu won’t necessarily include every program on your computer, which makes finding a program that’s not there a little tricky. Learn these shortcuts to find your files and programs in a second.

Windows + Q: Search apps
(When in the new Start Menu you can simply type to start searching for an program)
Windows + W: Search settings
Windows + F: Search files


Practice these keyboard shortcuts and you’ll never look back – simple steps to becoming a speed demon!

Alt + Tab: Hold Alt and tap Tab (key above Caps Lock) to switch between your open programs.
Windows + L: Lock/Log out of your PC
Ctrl + Alt + Esc: Open Windows Task Manager
Windows + K: Display devices to share files with

There are many more shortcuts out there, so if you’re feeling confident have a play around. Provided you’re using the Windows key you should be able to find other shortcuts using it in combination with a letter key.

If you’re new to Windows 8 then check out our helpful tips and tricks guide here.

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