In a previous tip, I described how you can (and should) create Windows 8 recovery media so that you can use Push Button Reset and other tools to help troubleshoot and fix your PC or device when things go wrong. But a bootable disk or USB device is only one way to access these tools, which Microsoft also includes right in your Windows 8 install. There is a faster way.

Please read Windows 8 Tip: Create Recovery Media for more information about creating a USB- or disc-based recovery disk.

In Windows 8 Secrets, Rafael Rivera and I documented a number of ways in which you can access Windows 8’s powerful new recovery tools: The aforementioned recovery media (USB or optical disk), from the Windows 8 Setup disc (or USB-based Setup disk), by interrupting the normal boot process (press F8 right after the BIOS/firmware screen, increasingly difficult), or from the Windows 8 boot menu (on dual-boot PCs).

But there is another way. And it’s possibly the easiest and fastest one of all.

Using the Power menu that’s available from the Settings pane (WINKEY + I) or the sign-in screen (after the lock screen), simply hold down the LEFT SHIFT key and then select Restart.

The PC will now restart, fairly immediately, into the recovery environment instead of restarting normally.

According to reader Allan R., who tipped me off to this method of accessing the recovery environment, this is one of the secrets Microsoft Support uses when helping customers. And, yes, it also works on Windows RT devices including the Microsoft Surface, like most of these Windows 8 tips.

Thanks Allan!