With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has completely overhauled the system of keyboard shortcuts that utilize the ubiquitous Windows Key, and as you'll soon discover, virtually ever letter in the alphabet is now assigned to some function. This change is in keeping with the company's desire to make Windows 8 highly usable not just by beginners with touchscreen-based devices, but also by more experienced users on traditional PCs.

 

Here's the complete list of Windows Key keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8. Unless otherwise noted, each is attained by tapping and holding down the Windows Key on your keyboard while striking another character.

 

Note: Keyboard combos that are new to the Consumer Preview are in bold.

 

Start screen/Metro

 

The following Windows key shortcuts work in the new Windows shell/Start screen.

 

WINKEY (tap)- Toggles between the Start screen and the foremost running app (Metro-style) or the Windows Desktop.

 

WINKEY + 1, WINKEY + 2, etc. - Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and launch the nth shortcut in the Windows taskbar. So WINKEY + 1 would launch whichever application is first in the list, from left to right.

 

WINKEY + B - Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and select the tray notification area.

 

WINKEY + C - Display Charms and time/date/notification overlay.

 

WINKEY + D - Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and toggle Show Desktop (hides/shows any applications and other windows).

 

WINKEY + E. Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and launch Windows Explorer with Computer view displayed.

 

WINKEY + F - Display File Search pane

 

WINKEY + H - Display Share charm.

 

WINKEY + I - Display Settings charm.

 

WINKEY + J - Swaps foreground between the snapped and filled apps.

 

WINKEY + K - Display Connect charm.

 

WINKEY + L - Lock PC and return to Lock screen.

 

WINKEY + M - Minimize the selected Explorer window.

 

WINKEY + O - Toggle orientation switching on slate and tablet PCs.

 

WINKEY + P - Display the new Project (for "projection") pane for choosing between available displays.

 

WINKEY + Q - Search (within) Apps using the new Search pane.

 

WINKEY + R - Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and display the Run box.

 

WINKEY + U - Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and launch the Ease of Access Center.

 

WINKEY + V - Cycles through Notification toasts.

 

WINKEY + W - Display Settings Search pane

 

WINKEY + SHIFT + V - Cycles through Notification toasts in reverse order.

 

WINKEY + X - Access the advanced context menu on the Start preview tip.

 

WINKEY + Z - Access the App Bar.

 

WINKEY + ENTER - Launches Narrator.

 

WINKEY + SPACEBAR - Switch input language and keyboard layout

 

WINKEY + TAB - Cycle through apps in Switcher.

 

WINKEY + SHIFT + TAB - Cycle through apps in Switcher in reverse order.

 

WINKEY + CTRL + TAB - Cycle through apps, snapping them as you go.

 

WINKEY + , - Peeks at the Windows desktop.

 

WINKEY + . - Snaps application to the left.

 

WINKEY + SHIFT + . - Snaps application to the right.

 

WINKEY + PGUP  - Moves the Start screen to the display on the left.

 

WINKEY + PGDN  - Moves the Start screen to the display on the right.

 

Windows desktop/Explorer

 

The following Windows key shortcuts work in the classic Windows desktop. Note that while many of these shortcuts also work in Windows 7, some are new to Windows 8.

 

WINKEY (tap)- Toggles between the Windows desktop environment and the new Start screen.

 

WINKEY + 1, WINKEY + 2, etc. - Launch the nth shortcut in the Windows taskbar. So WINKEY + 1 would launch whichever application is first in the list, from left to right.

 

WINKEY + B - Select the tray notification area.

 

WINKEY + C - Display Charms and time/date/notification overlay.

 

WINKEY + D - Toggle Show Desktop (hides/shows any applications and other windows).

 

WINKEY + E. Launch Windows Explorer with Computer view displayed.

 

WINKEY + F - Search Files using the new Windows Search pane.

 

WINKEY + I - Display Settings pane for Windows Desktop (also provides access to Networks, Volume, Screen Brightness, Notifications, Power, and Language).

 

WINKEY + L - Lock PC and return to Lock screen.

 

WINKEY + M - Minimize the selected Explorer window.

 

WINKEY + O - Toggle orientation switching on slate and tablet PCs.

 

WINKEY + P - Display the new Project (for "projection") pane for choosing between available displays.

 

WINKEY + Q - Search (within) Apps using the new Windows Search pane.

 

WINKEY + R - Display Run box.

 

WINKEY + U - Launch Ease of Access Center.

 

WINKEY + W - Search Settings using the new Windows Search pane.

 

WINKEY + X - Display Windows Mobility Center application.

 

WINKEY + ARROW KEYS - Aero Snap.