Windows 8 – Start Menu & Keyboard HotKeys

If you purchase a new desktop or laptop computer today, most likely it will come with Windows 8 installed.  For those of us that have been with Windows since the early Win95 days you’re very accustomed to the way the screen is laid out.  Your icons on the desktop, a nice background, your clock in the lower right corner and your start menu in the lower left.  But if you haven’t used Windows 8 yet, be forewarned, they went and messed with it.
I installed Windows 8 on to a laptop and have been using it for approximately a year now.  I won’t lie, it does take some getting used to.  Of course the biggest change of all is the start menu.  When Windows 8 was released the biggest change of all was the fact that they removed the start menu from the desktop.  If you clicked on the WindowsKey on your keyboard it would take you to a whole new screen dedicated to a new layout for just your start menu icons.

Why did they do this?  As computers and technology are becoming more mobile and more integrated Windows made an attempt to create the same look and feel on any of their devices.  So if you logged on to your Windows Smartphone, and then logged into a Windows tablet and then a Windows (touchscreen preferred) computer it would all look and function in the same way.  It’s a great idea, but a lot of people don’t have the touchscreen capability or just don’t care to deal with those features.  Microsoft isn’t going to revert their decision, so best to trudge forward, accept the change and figure out how to best use it.

To help you get around your Windows 8 environment here are some keyboard commands to make it a little easier.

“WindowsKey” (the small Windows logo key between the Left-Ctrl and Left-Alt keys)
For those that have or haven’t updated to Windows 8.1 yet, this is still the easiest way to launch your start menu.

“WindowsKey” + Q
For those that haven’t upgraded to Windows 8.1 this will bring up all the icons available in your computer.  Even beyond your Start Menu.  From here you can launch programs, but you can also add icons to your start menu if they aren’t already there.  For Windows 8.1 users, this will bring up the Search command

“WindowsKey” + D
No matter where you are, this will take you back to your desktop

“WindowsKey” + X
This is the most useful menu to me.  The quick access window will give you the RUN command, Search command, Control Panel, Task Manager, Device Manager System and others (shown below)

“WindowsKey” + L
This will lock your computer if you need to step away for a moment.  If your computer is password protected it will require a password before allowing you back into your computer.

“WindowsKey” + C
This will open or close the Windows Charm menu located on the right side of the screen.

“WindowsKey” + Tab
This will show you what apps are open on the left side of the screen and also the ability to close them.
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“WindowsKey” + M
This will minimize everything on your desktop into your taskbar.

“WindowsKey” + PrtScr
Will take a screenshot of your desktop and automatically save the image into your Pictures folder.


After all that, if you still want a start menu like you used to have, there’s an easy way to put something like it back at your disposal.

1. Right-Click on the Toolbar.  When the menu appears, hoover over Toolbars and select ‘New Toolbar’.

2. Your destination will be the folder C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart Menu .  So first navigate to the folder C:

3. Once you have gotten there, go up to the address bar and manually type in   C:programdata  and hit ENTER. This will now take you into a hidden folder.

4. Now we can continue to the folder C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart Menu

5. Once you get to the folder Start Menu double-click to open it, and then click the ‘Select Folder’ button

6. Now, down by your clock you will have a menu very similar to the old Start Menu.



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