Most new PC keyboards have a “Windows” key. This has the Windows logo on it (a stylized waving flag) and is usually next to the Alt key. Here’s a list of the more useful functions accessible with this key. There are additional functions relating to dual monitor configurations, projectors and some other less frequently needed things which I haven’t included.

All of the following combinations involve holding down the Windows key while pressing another key:

General Purpose Commands:

WIN (Display the Start Menu)

Pressing the Windows key by itself displays the start menu. This is the same thing as clicking on the start button in the lower left corner of the screen. This is a useful thing to remember if you can’t use the mouse for some reason.

WIN + F (File or Folder Search)

Displays the search window to find any file or folder. I remember this combination by thinking of it as the “Find” function. 

WIN + E (Open Explorer)

Activates a Windows Explorer window. This is equivalent to right clicking on the start button and clicking “Open Windows Explorer”. I find this is a much faster way to open an Explorer window than using the mouse. 

WIN + L (Lock Computer)

Locks the computer in one step. This is the fastest way to lock the computer when you have to step away for a minute. 

WIN + R (Open the Run Dialog Box)

Opens the run command. This is accessible on the Start menu, if you have that function enabled. If you’re not familiar with it, the Run command is used to run programs normally only activated through a command prompt. An example of this is “REGEDIT”, which is used to access the registry. 

WIN + T (Cycle through Programs on the Task Bar)

Cycles through, and highlights, active programs which have a button on the task bar. After getting to the program you want, you need to press enter to activate it. I don’t find this combination especially useful in normal situations, but might be good to know if you can’t use the mouse.

Minimizing/Restoring Windows:

WIN + M and WIN + SHIFT + M (Minimize/Unminimize All Windows)

Minimizes all open windows which can be minimized (windows which have a “Minimize” button. If you include the Shift key, it restores all windows which were minimized with Win + M.

WIN + HOME (Minimize All but Active)

Minimize all open windows except the one which is currently active.

WIN + DOWN ARROW (Minimize Current Window)

Minimizes the current window. This is the same as clicking on the window’s minimize button.

WIN + D (Show Desktop)

Show the windows desktop. In most cases this is very similar to WIN + M. It additionally removes any windows which don’t have a minimize button. This gets everything, but doesn’t have the reverse function with the Shift key.

WIN + Spacebar (Preview the Desktop)

This is a temporary version of WIN + M. As long as the keys are held down, all windows on the screen are transparent allowing you to see what’s underneath. This is equivalent to hovering the mouse over the box in the lower right corner of the screen in Windows 7.

Moving Windows:

WIN + UP ARROW (Maximize Current Window)

Maximizes the current window. This is equivalent to clicking on the window’s maximize button.

WIN + SHIFT + UP ARROW (Maximize Current Window’s Height)

Does the same thing as WIN + UP ARROW but only for the height.

 WIN + RIGHT ARROW (Maximize Current Window on Right)

Maximizes the current window’s height, moves it to the right of the screen and sets its width to half the width of the screen.  This is an odd function, which you might find useful. Play with it to see how it behaves.

 WIN + LEFT ARROW (Maximize Current Window on Left)

Maximizes the current window’s height, moves it to the left of the screen and sets its width to half the width of the screen. See above.