Saturday, June 6, 2015

What is the "Windows" button for?

Since the start of "Windows" in the early 1990's, keyboards have been made with an extra Windows key (usually located between the ALT and CTRL keys... more about those later). What's it for? Here are some shortcuts that you can use in your computering that make use of the Windows key!

I do not expect that you will incorporate all of these shortcuts into your computering habits. In fact, you may not use any of them! But, keyboard shortcuts are very handy and can make your computering more efficient and faster (by not having to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to accomplish a task). At the very least, it will answer the question "what is this key for?"

When using multiple keys for a function, I like to press and hold down the first button with one finger, and then I use another finger (preferably on another hand) to press the second key. You don't need to hold down the second key, just a press will do it. When you've accomplished the task, then let go of both!

Open the Start Menu: WINDOWS

To open the Start Menu (at the lower left of your screen, which shows all your programs) without having to click with your mouse, simply press the WINDOWS key by itself.

Minimize Everything: WINDOWS+M (OR WINDOWS+D for "Desktop")

Press and hold down WINDOWS key and press the M key to minimize every application that is open. It will take you right back to the desktop, without closing any of your open programs. If you use WINDOWS+D, you can toggle back and forth from your desktop to your initial view.

Lock your Computer: WINDOWS+L

If you want to Lock your computer, making sure that no one uses it when you step away, press and hold down the Windows key and press L. In Windows 7, it will bring up a screen where you can press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and then log in with the username and password you enter when Windows starts up. In Windows 8, it will take you to the beginning screen where you can press ENTER and then enter your password. This DOES NOT log out your username. It simply locks the screen, and when you input your password, you are right back where you left off!

Open File Explorer: WINDOWS+E

This action opens the program called "File Explorer," (sometimes called "My Computer") where you can see and manipulate the actual files on your storage devices. Careful in here! You can delete or move some important things! Be sure to only work with your own data!

Open a Program from your Taskbar: WINDOWS+it's number from the left

When you have pinned applications to your Taskbar (at the bottom), this makes them quick to open (just a single click), and because your taskbar is always visible (unless you purposely hide it) then you can click to open your taskbar programs at any time! If you don't want to use your mouse for this purpose, then count from the left after the Start Menu. The number you count is the number to press to open this application. For instance, this is a picture of my current taskbar.
See that the Start Menu is on the very left side (looks like a window). My first program on the taskbar is Internet Explorer (the blue 'e'). The second program is File Explorer (the folder). The third program is PowerPoint. The fourth program is Word, etc. If I want to open Word from the keyboard, I can press WINDOWS+4, since for my taskbar, Word is the 4th program from the Start Menu. I know this is a lot to think of just now, but truly this is a time-saver for those who are keyboard oriented!

Maximize the Current Window: WINDOWS+UP ARROW

Remember when we learned about the Maximize and Restore buttons? (Check your notes for the "Intro to Windows" class.) Here's a quick review: in the upper right corner of each window are three small boxes. The box to the right has an X, and clicking it will close that window. The box to the left has a _, and clicking it will minimize that window. The box in the middle shows a square. This box will maximize the window. If it's already maximized, then this box will restore it. (Restored size is something between taking up the whole window (maximized) and minimized.) Using the keyboard combination of WINDOWS+UP ARROW accomplishes the same task as clicking the middle box with your mouse. It will either maximize or restore the current window.  


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