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The most useful keyboard shortcuts for the Windows taskbar



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There is no faster way to navigate on your computer than keyboard shortcuts, and Windows adds more with each new release. Everything starts however in the task bar and in the start menu. Therefore, it is very convenient to use them without ever clicking with the mouse. Here are some useful shortcuts for working with the Windows taskbar.

Keyboard shortcuts for working with the Start menu

There are not many special keyboard shortcuts to work with the Start menu, but you can still use your keyboard to navigate and launch apps. For starters, you can open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key or by pressing Ctrl + Esc. You can close the Start menu by pressing Windows or Esc.

The Start menu is divided into three columns: folders, apps, and tiles. Use the Tab key and the Shift + Tab key to jump between these columns. Within a column, use the arrow keys to move and press Enter to open the highlighted items. If you use the right arrow key in an app that supports jump lists, the jump list appears, and you can use the left arrow to exit the jump list.

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But the real power of the Start menu is not in its menus, but in the built-in search capabilities (and in Windows 10 in Cortana). Just press the Windows key to open the Start menu and start typing. Whether you start an app, go to a page in Control Panel, or see what events are displayed in your calendar, you can do it all without ever touching the mouse.

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Windows 8 and 10 have also added a new somewhat hidden menu with advanced options. Press Windows + X to open the main user menu, which provides quick access to powerful utilities such as Event Viewer, Device Manager, Command Prompt, and more, unlike the beginner-friendly Start Menu. After opening the Power User menu in Windows + X, you can press one of the underlined letters in the shortcut name to start the utility. You can also easily navigate up and down with the arrow keys and press Enter to start your selection.

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Note : When PowerShell is displayed instead of Command Prompt in the Power User menu, this is a switch that was introduced with the Creators Update for Windows 10. It's very easy to switch back to the command prompt in the Power User menu if you want, or you can try PowerShell. You can do pretty much anything in PowerShell that you can do at the command prompt, as well as many other useful things.

Keyboard shortcuts for launching apps in the taskbar

The first ten apps in your taskbar are assigned numbers from 1 to 0 from left to right. That way you can start it with your keyboard.

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Press the Windows key together with a number key to start the corresponding app. For example, in the taskbar above, Windows + 3 would start Google Chrome, Windows + 4 Slack, etc., up to Windows + 0 for Outlook. If you use these keyboard shortcuts for an app that is already running, the app will toggle between a minimized and a maximized status.

You can also hold down the Shift key while using these keyboard shortcuts to start a new instance of an app that is already running. In our example, pressing Shift + Windows + 3 opens a new window for Chrome, even if Chrome is already open.

Using the Ctrl key with these shortcuts displays the last-started instance of an app. For example, suppose you had three File Explorer windows open on your PC, and File Explorer was first on the taskbar. If you press Ctrl + Windows + 1, the most recently opened File Explorer window will be displayed.

RELATED: Accessing Common Items in Windows 7 with Jump Lists

The Alt key changes the basic shortcut to open an app's Jump list. If you press Alt + Windows + 8 in our example, the jump list of Notepad will be displayed. You can then use the arrow keys to select an entry in the Jump list and then press Enter to start the selection.

You can also press Windows + T to mark the first app Navigate the taskbar with the arrow keys through all apps in the system tray and press Enter to start the highlighted items.

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You can also do a similar trick in the notification area (or system tray) at the right end of the taskbar. Press Windows + B to highlight the first item in the notification area – usually the up arrow that leads to additional icons – and then use the arrow keys to move.

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Press Enter to select Whatever is the default action for the icon. You can also press the shortcut key (if present) or press Shift + F10 to open the full shortcut menu for the icon.

Keyboard and mouse shortcuts for working with apps in the taskbar

If you want to use your mouse, there are also a few keyboard accelerators that you can use while moving your mouse to speed things up for you: [19659028] Shift-click an app in the system tray to open a new instance of the app.

  • Ctrl + Shift + Click an app to open it as an administrator.
  • Shift-click an app right-click to open the context menu for the underlying application. Simply right-clicking an app on the taskbar will open the Jump list for apps that support it or the context menu for the shortcut itself.
  • Hold down the Ctrl key while clicking a clustered app (one with more than one open instance) to browse through the app open instances of the app.
  • And there you have it. While there are not many keyboard shortcuts to work with your taskbar, there is more than enough to do just about anything you can do with your mouse.

    Photo credit: NOGRAN sro / Flickr


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