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How to Use the “Windows” Key on Your Keyboard

March 20, 2009

in Windows

by David Hakala

The Windows Logo key on your keyboard is an enigma. What’s it do? How did it get there? Well, it’s been around since 1995, when Windows 95 was introduced. It’s used in combination with other keys to perform a host of common functions quickly, without having to point and click one’s way through a series of menus.

Windows key

Windows key

The appearance of the Windows Logo key is closely controlled by Microsoft, which licenses the Windows key imprint and shape to keyboard manufacturers. The placement of the Windows Logo key on the keyboard is up to the manufacturer. It is commonly found in the lower left corner of the keyboard, between the Ctl and Alt keys. But some manufacturers place it in the upper right corner, with the PrtScn, Pause, and other little-used keys.

Holding down the Windows Logo key while pressing one of the other keys highlighted below performs the function described.

Windows Logo Key alone to Open and close the Start Menu

Windows Logo Key + B to Select the first icon in the Notification Area

Windows Logo Key + D to Show Desktop

Windows Logo Key + E to Open My Computer (Libraries in Windows 7)

Windows Logo Key + F to Open Search

Windows Logo Key + F + Control Key to Open Search For Computers program

Windows Logo Key + F1 to Open Help

Windows Logo Key + L to Switch Between Users, or Lock desktop while unattended

Windows Logo Key + M to Minimize All Windows

Windows Logo Key + M + Shift Key to restore after Minimizing All Windows

Windows Logo Key + R to Open Run Dialog

Windows Logo Key + U to Open Utility Manager

Windows Logo Key + Y to Open Yahoo Messenger (if loaded)

Windows Logo Key + Pause Key To Open System Properties

Windows Logo Key + X to enter Windows Mobility Center (Windows Vista+ only; does not work on desktop computers)

Windows Logo Key + P to switch Projection modes (clone, extend, single, multiple monitors, etc.) (Windows 7 only)

Windows Logo Key + Tab Key to switch windows using Flip 3D (requires Windows Aero, Windows Vista only)

Windows Logo Key + 1 to 9 to start corresponding Quick Launch Toolbar program

Windows Logo Key + Up Arrow to maximize the active window (Windows 7 only)

Windows Logo Key + Down Arrow to minimize the active window (Windows 7 only)

Windows Logo Key + Left or Right Arrow to align the window to the respective side of the screen (Windows 7 only)

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at