Windows 7 was a winner. It added nice functionality without changing concepts which didn’t need to be changed. I wish the same could be said for Windows 8.

I understand the concept. Microsoft wants an operating system which will display the same across all devices. The tiles don’t bother me. We have a “Start Screen” instead of a “Start Menu.” That part is OK. What gave me trouble was the “hot corner” concept. The whole idea of swiping up to the corner seemed to take too much motion and was too finicky in its response. Shutting down the machine required entirely too much navigation.

To be fair, I was spending the majority of my time on my Windows 7 desktop and far less time in the Windows 8 laptop. If all of my time was spent with Windows 8, I am sure muscle memory would have taken over.

I ran across a set of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts, and that is making all the difference. The concept of using keyboard shortcuts instead of using the mouse to select from a menu is one I have been using since the mouse first arrived in the scene in the 1980s. While I have never learned all of the keyboard shortcuts for any operating system or software program, learning the major ones is a huge productivity boost. Control+P to print, Control+S to save, and Control+C to copy are far easier to execute and require less motion than using the mouse.

It should be no surprise that keyboard shortcuts would also increase productivity in Windows 8. The surprising thing is just how much difference these few shortcuts make, at least for me.

  • <Windows> The “Windows” key switches between the Start screen and the desktop.
  • <Windows>-C  Holding the Windows key and pressing “C” opens the charm bar. That’s much easier than navigating the “hot corner” routine. The charm bar is where the user finds the search tool and accessing settings.
  • <Windows>-X  Holding the Windows key and pressing “X” opens the “quick access” menu. This menu opens in the lower-left corner of the screen and contains many of the administrative commands  which were present in the Windows 7 Start menu. Access to such items as the Control Panel, Command Prompt, Device Manager reside in this menu.
  • <Windows>-E  Holding the Windows key and pressing “E” opens the file explorer. This menu allows the user to navigate to files on any drive, including accessing files on a flash drive plugged in to the computer. For me, this has proven the most helpful shortcut of all.
  • <Windows>-I  Holding the Windows key and pressing I opens the “Settings charm.” Speaker volume and access to networks are two major settings found here.
  •  <Alt><Tab>  Holding the Alt key and tapping the Tab key is a hold-over from previous operating systems. If you have ever been in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation and wanted to move momentarily to an Internet site, you know how awkward the move can be. <Alt><Tab> allows you to cycle through open programs. Practice with it before your next PowerPoint presentation and impress your friends with your ability to move in and out of PowerPoint without missing a beat.
  • <Windows>-D  This combination was also present on previous systems. Our screens can get awfully cluttered with open windows. This keyboard shortcut minimizes all windows and allows you to view your desktop.

What has been your experience with Windows 8? Equipped with these few keyboard shortcuts, your experience may just get a great deal better.