The Windows Logo Key: More Than Just a Pretty Face

Have you ever noticed the Windows logo key on your keyboard and wondered why it was there or what it did? Wonder no more!  While this topic is not specific to Blackbaud users, I thought I’d share what this key is used for since it often seems to be a source of confusion.

The Windows key is usually located to the left of the space bar, between CTRL and ALT. On full size keyboards, it is often duplicated on the right side of the space bar as well. This key goes by several names: the Windows logo key, the Windows key, the start key, and the flag key (or just the flag). There are a multitude of functions associated with this key, and some of them are quite useful. Here’s a quick list of my favorites. If you’ve ever been on a screen sharing session with me, you’ve probably seen me use some of these keyboard shortcuts.

  • If you press just the Windows key on its own, it opens your Start menu. You can then arrow through the selections, pressing “Enter” to choose the desired program, or use your mouse.
  • Want a fast way to get to your desktop, or to minimize every window you have open, without using your mouse? Press the Windows key + “M” (stands for minimize) OR “D” (stands for desktop). All of the open windows will drop to the task bar. Choosing “M” or “D” is interchangeable, and either results in the same outcome, but there is one advantage to choosing “M.” If you choose “M” and then you want to restore all the windows that got minimized with the keyboard shortcut above, you can press the Windows key + Shift + M and they will all pop right back up.
  • Hate going through a bunch of screens to browse for files? The Windows key + “E” brings up Windows Explorer. This is the same as if you right clicked on “My Computer” or “Computer” and chose “Explore.”
  • Frustrated by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL , choosing to “Lock this computer,” and then sometimes having to wait while Windows catches up? Skip the click, and the lag. Pressing the Windows key + “L” automatically locks your machine!
  • Windows 7 introduces some new keystroke shortcuts:
    • Windows key + the Up Arrow will maximize the active window.
    • Windows key + the Down Arrow restores the active window to the default size if it is currently maximized.
  • While I have not seen this one in action, rumor has it that in Windows 8 pressing the Windows key + Print Screen will automatically save a screenshot (in PNG format) to the “Screenshots” folder in the “Pictures” library.
  • While I’m at it: There is a key to the right of the space bar, between the Windows key and CTRL, with an icon on it that looks like a document with a mouse pointer. This is called the Menu key. When you press it, it opens the right click menu for the active window.

I hope you find some of these keyboard shortcuts to be useful!

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