Often I sound like a broken record. IRL (in real life), on my blog and here at Attorney at Work, I’m constantly repeating this mantra: “Don’t work for your computer, put your computer to work for you.” Sometimes small bits of information that would make our day more efficient are overlooked (or forgotten). But over the course of a work year, a few less keystrokes here … and fewer mouse reaches there … can add up to a lot of time saved!
Judicious use of the Windows Logo key is one of those simple ways you can easily work smarter, with very little up-front effort—great bang for your keyboarding buck.
“Fave 10” Windows Logo Key Combos
The Windows Logo key (also known as the Windows key or Start key) is that little key on the lower left side of your keyboard that typically sits to the left of the Alt key:
It’s not there just to look pretty, it’s there to work for you. When pressed in conjunction with other keys, the Windows Logo key will help you quickly carry out basic tasks that would normally have you reaching (inefficiently) for your mouse. There are many Windows Logo key combination shortcuts, but these are my “fave 10.” (The first five work in both Windows 7 and Windows XP, the next five in Windows 7 only.)
- Windows Logo key, by itself. Okay, this is not a combo. But go ahead and press the Logo key and watch the Windows Start Menu immediately appear, with the cursor flashing in the Search box (Win 7). Instant menu, instant search.
- Windows Logo key + D key. Have an annoying nosy neighbor peering over your shoulder? This combo will minimize all open windows, sending you straight to your desktop. Once that nosy neighbor wanders off, Press again to restore your immediately previous view.
- Windows Logo key + E key. Immediately open up a Windows Explorer window, open at My Computer view.
- Windows Logo key + F key: The fastest way to search. This key combo takes you straight to Windows Search, ready for your input. Your search results will depend on your search settings.
- Windows Logo key + L key. Indispensable for immediately locking your system. If you only ever adopt one Windows Logo key, make it this one. Never leave your computer without locking it.
- Windows Logo key + T key. Cycle through programs on your Taskbar. This one comes in really handy when your trusty mouse is less than trusty.
- Windows Logo key + Tab key. Hold down the Windows Logo key, while continuously pressing the Tab key to cycle through your open programs in 3D view—when you land on the program you want to switch to, take your fingers off the keys and that program window will come to the top! (Note: If you have Windows Aero turned off this key combo will not work). For those not using Windows Aero try this alternative: Hold down the Alt key while continuously pressing Tab to pop up a little window allowing you to cycle through your open programs. Very handy!
- Windows Logo key + Up Arrow key. Program not opening maximized? Rather than reach for the mouse, press this key combo for instant maximizing. (Then try the same with the left, right and down arrows—minimize, maximize to the right or to the left.)
- Windows Logo key + Shift Left Arrow keys. My new best friend and yours, too, if you use dual monitors. Flip that open window straight over to your other monitor, without grabbing the program’s title bar with your mouse and dragging. Repeat the key combo to move it back (or use the Windows Logo key in combo with Shift + Right Arrow).
- Windows Logo key + P key: If you work with dual monitors (or a laptop and projector) and need to regularly change your display between Computer Only, Duplicate, Extend or Project Only, this key combo is for you. Try it—you’ll never go back to manually changing those settings.
And that’s my list. Print it out and tape it near your monitor (because sometimes low-tech works best), until you’ve memorized your faves. Then put that Windows Logo key to work for you! Why work harder when you can work smarter?
Vivian Manning is the IT Manager at Barriston Law LLP in Barrie, Bracebridge and Cookstown, Ontario. Prior to moving into IT, Vivian practiced law at Barriston LLP (formerly Burgar Rowe PC) primarily in the area of Municipal Land Development, with of 17 years in private practice before switching to the IT side of the law office. She currently indulges her love of teaching tech through her blog Small City Law Firm Tech, where she provides “tips of the day.”