What is the Windows key on your keyboard for and what shortcuts you can do with it?

Do you want to know what exactly the Windows key is for? In this guide I explain it to you and, in addition, I show you practical ways to make the most of it in your day to day

What is the Windows key on your keyboard for and what shortcuts you can do with it?
Windows Key Concept Image

You have it there and maybe you don’t even notice it anymore. I’m referring to the Windows key, which has been included in PC keyboards, whether for laptops or desktops, since time immemorial. Do you want to know more about what it is for and what you can do with it? Here I share my knowledge and experience as a Windows user for almost two decades. Don’t miss it!

Table of Contents

Windows key, what can you do for me?

The Windows key arrived with Windows 95. From that moment on, it has coexisted on our keyboards without interruption. While it is true that on Macs it does not have a clear equivalent (Command is actually like a kind of Control), on Linux it is used a lot. In the latter environment, it is usually referred to as the Super key.

And what is its main function? Basically, that of opening the start menu. A simple tap on it and this element (another very classic element in Windows, by the way), will appear on the screen without delay.

However, in addition to opening the start menu, when this key is combined with others, it serves to launch various actions. In fact, it is also a quick way to access the system search, because after pressing it and the start menu opens, the user can type to start locating elements.

This is how the Windows key has changed over the years. Source: Wikipedia

By the way, before I start detailing the main functions, beyond accessing the startup, here are some curiosities about the Windows key:

  • Its design has been updated along with that of Windows. You may not have noticed it or you may not have been in the computer world for so long. However, as Microsoft has changed the image of its operating system, computer and keyboard manufacturers have been changing the design of this key to adapt it to the current logo.
  • On full keyboards, you have two Windows keys. As with other keys, such as Shift or Control, it is not surprising that you have two Windows keys.
  • Lately, he has come up with competition. Microsoft is asking OEMs to include a key to launch Copilot, the AI it has integrated into the operating system as an assistant. The fact that PC keyboards haven’t changed in almost 30 years, has caused the arrival of this new key to be considered a major change.

For this I use the Windows key in my day to day life

In this section what I am going to do is talk to you about the use I make of the Windows key on my PC. They are the shortcuts that I use the most on a daily basis and that help me to be more productive. If you want to know all the functions of this key, I advise you to visit the official Microsoft website, where the combinations available in Windows 11 are included.

Control my windows

The Windows key has always been used to control the position of my windows. In fact, when I switch to macOS, it’s one of the keyboard shortcuts that I miss the most.

These are the combinations that are useful to me:

  • Windows + Up arrow. It allows me to maximize a window.
  • Windows + Down arrow. I use this shortcut less, but it’s also useful, as it makes it easier to minimize a window without lifting your hands off the keyboard.
  • Windows + Side arrows. It helps me send the windows to the sides of the screen. Usually, you press the arrow on one side first, and then, after selecting another window, the one pointing to the opposite side. This way I can split the screen quickly.

By the way, if you add the Control key to the equation (e.g., Windows + Control. + Right Arrow), you’ll quickly jump between desktops.

Show the desktop

D for Desktop. This shortcut shows you the desktop
D for Desktop. This shortcut shows you the desktop

I use the desk a lot. I’m sure it happens to you too, that you end up turning this space into a place to locate temporary files or recurring shortcuts.

Thanks to the Windows + D combination, you will be able to view the content of the desktop at once. All windows are going to be minimized. The best thing is that once I’m done querying the contents of the desktop, I can recover all the windows by pressing the same keys again.

Quickly search your computer

The Windows search engine has become an indispensable feature for me. Honestly, it’s not that I’m looking for too many files, but it does help me launch apps quickly.

With the Windows key there are two ways to search the entire computer (and also the Internet). The first is by pressing the key only once and typing. I consider this to be the most useful way to open the search.

The other way is with the Windows + S combination, which also requires the user to type in their query. Therefore, I believe that the first way is the most efficient.

Oh, and by the way, I also use Windows search as a calculator. So with the Windows key and a mathematical operation entered in the search drawer, I get the results instantly.

Take screenshots

S for Screenshot. Here's how you can take advanced screenshots
S for Screenshot. Here’s how you can take advanced screenshots

Windows + Shift + S. This is one of the combinations that I use the most in my day to day. When I write some articles, I need to illustrate them with screenshots, which help the user better understand the steps to follow.

Well, with this keyboard shortcut, I invoke the Snipping app over and over again to take screenshots in a flash. The most interesting thing is that the tool remembers the last mode selected. This way, I can take screenshots of a window or a specific region very quickly thanks to this shortcut.

Take control of the clipboard

Finally, thanks to Windows + Shift + V you can access clipboard history. From that space it is possible to recover most of the elements that I have been copying throughout my working day.



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