Windows 8 cheat sheet

How to find your way around Microsoft's new OS and make the most of its features

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Touch-screen navigation

Windows 8 supports a whole host of touch-screen gestures, including the swiping, pinching and rotating motions familiar to smartphone and tablet users. Tapping an item opens it; pressing and holding an item pops up a menu to display more information about it. Note, however, that these gestures often don't work in Desktop apps. (See "Meet the Start screen" for the differences between Desktop apps and Windows 8 Store apps.)

Windows 8 also uses something called edge UIs, in which you swipe from the edge of the screen toward the center. Swiping in from the right edge of the screen displays the Charms bar. Swiping quickly in and back out from the left edge of the screen cycles through your open apps.

While the previous edge UI gestures work universally, some are specific to Windows 8 Store apps. When you're in a Windows 8 Store app, swiping up from the bottom of the screen or swiping down from the top of the screen displays the App bar (more on that in a moment). And you can close a Windows 8 Store app by pulling down from the top edge of the screen all the way to the bottom of the screen. The app shrinks to a thumbnail and then disappears.

Following is a list of useful Windows 8 gestures, including more edge UI gestures. Keep in mind that not all of the following gestures work in all places and apps. Typically, they don't work in Desktop apps.

Windows 8 touch gestures

Gesture What it does
Tap Open an item. It's the equivalent of clicking with a mouse.
Press and hold Pop up a menu to display more information about the item.
Press and hold, slide and release Move an item to a new location. It's the equivalent of dragging an item with a mouse.
Pinch with two fingers Zoom out. Used in apps such as Maps where you commonly zoom in and out.
Spread two fingers apart Zoom in. Used in apps such as Maps where you commonly zoom in and out.
Rotate with two fingers Rotate the display in the direction you move your fingers. Very few apps use this gesture.
Swipe horizontally Scroll sideways through a screen, such as the Start screen to see apps off to the right side.
Swipe vertically Scroll up or down.
Short downward swipe on an item Select the item and show additional options, often in an App bar.
On the lock screen, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen Display the login screen.
In a Windows 8 Store app, swipe in from the upper or lower edge of the screen Activate the App bar.
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to the center Display the Charms bar.
Swipe quickly in from left edge of the screen Display a thumbnail of the previously run app.
Swipe slowly in from the left edge of the screen Display a second app side-by-side with the current app on your screen.
Swipe quickly in from the left edge of the screen, then swipe quickly back Display thumbnails of all your running apps.
Pull down from the top of the screen to the bottom Close a Windows 8 Store app.
In Internet Explorer (Windows 8 version only), swipe right or left Go forward or back.

Keyboard shortcuts

Not using a touch-screen device? Like previous versions of Windows, Windows 8 includes a host of keyboard shortcuts, so you don't need to spend your life clicking. Those earlier keyboard shortcuts -- for example, Ctrl-C to copy text -- still work. But Windows 8 also has keyboard shortcuts for many of its new features.

The following table shows some of the most useful shortcuts for Windows 8; it includes both new keyboard shortcuts and some that worked in previous versions of Windows.

Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

Key combination What it does
Windows key shortcuts
Windows key Go to the Start screen or toggle between the Start screen and your previous location
Windows-C Open the Charms bar
Windows-D Show the Desktop
Windows-E Open File Explorer
Windows-F Go to Files in the Search charm
Windows-H Go to the Share charm
Windows-I Go to the Settings charm
Windows-K Go to the Devices charm
Windows-L Lock the device
Windows-M Minimize all windows (only on the Desktop)
Windows-O Lock the screen orientation
Windows-Q Go to Apps in the Search charm
Windows-R Launch the Run box
Windows-T Put the focus on the taskbar and cycle through your running Desktop apps
Windows-V Cycle through your notifications
Windows-W Go to Settings in the Search charm
Windows-X Open a menu of tools for power users
Windows-Z Launch the App bar (or make it disappear if it's already showing)
Windows-1 through 9 Go to the app in the corresponding position on the taskbar (Desktop only)
Windows-, (comma) (on Desktop only)
Windows-spacebar Switch the input language and keyboard layout
Windows-Home Minimize non-active Desktop apps
Windows-Page Up Move Start screen to left monitor
Windows-Page Down Move Start screen to right monitor
Windows-up arrow Maximize a Desktop app
Windows-down arrow Restore/minimize a Desktop app
Windows-F1 Run Windows Help and Support
Other keyboard shortcuts
Alt-Tab Cycle through thumbnails of open apps
Alt-F4 Close a Windows 8 Store app
Ctrl-A Select all
Ctrl-C Copy
Ctrl-E Select the Search box in the Windows 8 Internet Explorer app; select the Address bar in Desktop version of IE
Ctrl-N Open a new window in Internet Explorer (Desktop version only)
Ctrl-R Refresh
Ctrl-V Paste
Ctrl-X Cut
Ctrl-Y Redo
Ctrl-Z Undo
Ctrl-F4 Close the active document in Desktop apps
Ctrl-mouse click Select multiple items in File Explorer
Ctrl-Shift Select a group of contiguous items in File Explorer
Ctrl-W Close the current window in Internet Explorer (Desktop version)
Ctrl-Shift-Esc Run the Task Manager
Ctrl-Shift-N Create a new folder in File Explorer
PrtScrn Take a screenshot and place it on the Clipboard
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