As any Windows junkie will tell you, Bill Gates made computers easier to use by putting 2 "Windows keys" on every keyboard that Microsoft allows to be sold. These keys make life much better for the suffering POBs, since they define all sorts of shortcuts like, uhhh, ...

Well, here are a few. I learnt them from an educated Windows user, whose identity I shall not divulge. The arcane secrets themselves, however, your may spread to your heart's content.

  • Windows+F runs the "Find File" application.
  • Windows+E runs the "Explorer" application.
  • Windows+R runs the "Run Program" application.
  • Just hitting Windows opens the Start menu (control+Escape also does this).
There are probably many others; node them all to collect the entire set, which will allow you to guess what the ugly Windows menu key is supposed to do!

The windows key - that pressed alone brings up the start menu - will do the following if pressed together with these keys (in Windows 95 ++) :

  • E: Open Explorer.
  • R: Open the Run window.
  • Pause (or Break): Open the System Properties window.
  • F: Open the Find: All Files window.
  • Ctrl + F: Open the Find : Computer window.
  • M Minimize all active windows.
  • Shift + M: Undo Minimize all active windows.
  • Tab: Circle through the windows in the task bar.
  • F1: Start Windows help (that ironically doesn't contain this info - it is said to be listed on page 75 of October 1996 Windows Developer's Journal, though.)
Cool stuff. It isn't often that Windows' Undocumented Features really are features and not bugs.

Windows + M minimises all windows (but leaves dialogue boxes open), whereas Windows + D really does clear the desktop.

Also, F3 on its own is search.
F2 on its own can be used to rename a selected file
F1 is Help (you knew that already though). F10 on its own is another key for alt (in case yours is borked).

Thankfully,those of us using Windows have a way to shut off the Windows key (which has made me mess up many a time while using Moray/Pov-Ray).Download the Keyboard Mapper part of the Kernel Toys pack (at the Microsoft web site...good luck finding it!).Remap the Windows Key to something you find useful.Reboot.Done.

I hope this helps someone,and even if it doesn't,it won't matter,since I haven't wasted much time doing this anyway.
Actually, your keyboard's Windows key acts like the command key on the Macintosh platform, if you plug a PC USB Keyboard (like an Internet Natural Keyboard, or what not). If you have Intellitype available (you should be able to download it from the Microsoft Macintosh website), it allows you to switch the alt key and the command key (so that people who are used to the position of the command key do not have to re-learn it for the keyboard, which is naturally switched.

The Windows Key (along with the Application Key) was designed for power users (and unfortunately not gamers) in mind. It allows you to nail a bunch of fast keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier, without having to go to the mouse. Along with ALT for the menus and control for options, you can navigate all of windows without having to use a mouse. This is an very important usability feature (or if your mouse suddenly bites it like mine has several times).

To make a gamer's life easier, there are several programs (for windows 9x only), that capture and ignore that keystroke, if you do not want to break out Kernel Toys, and the keyboard remapper. If in Windows 2000 you want to make your keyboard act as a normal board in your config.nt file, place the following line:


That should force the standard driver to ignore those enhanced signals.

It is important for programmers(and other anal types) that, although Ctrl+Esc and WinKey cause the same action in Windows (make the Start Menu open), they do not "do" the same thing, strictly speaking. As 'xev' told me, the WinKey's scancode is 115, while Ctrl+Esc is 37+9.

This is somewhat useful because for the longest time I thought that the Windows Key was simply a hardware alias to Ctrl+Esc -- I know now that it is most certainly not.

Personally I find the Windows key relatively handy, as I try and use the mouse as little as possible (since I have my hands on the keyboard most of the time anyway). Here are some more uses for it:

WinAmp has several plugins that allow you to control it using the Windows Key, but by far the most useful I've found is BlueCave WinAmp Slider. Its main purpose is to allow WinAmp to perform pretty transitions when you minimise or restore it, but it also includes a very configurable hotkey utility. I've found that the best way to use hotkeys is simply to map WinAmp's existing hotkeys as Windows key shortcuts, like so:

Win+ctrl+Z - prev track
Win+ctrl+X - play
Win+ctrl+C - pause
Win+ctrl+V - stop
Win+ctrl+B - next track

Win+ctrl+S - toggle Shuffle mode
Win+ctrl+J - pop up 'jump to track' search box
Win+ctrl+Q - volume up
Win+ctrl+A - volume down

All of these shortcuts can be mapped without using the Ctrl key, with the exception of Win+B, which appears to have some function on Windows XP. I've included the Ctrl key in all my mappings for consistency.

The plugin can be downloaded from, in the plugins/General purpose section.

In Windows 98 and above, WIN+D takes you to the Desktop. The operation is similar to WIN+M, but also gets rid of dialog boxes and unminimizable windows (these usually spring back up again once you unminimise any windows though)

Something that needs to be developed is something which allows the WIN key to be used for custom macros, shortcuts and so on. Who needs a tacky 'programmable' or 'net-enabled' keyboard when the option to allow programmability is already there?

And finally - in Windows Help, the windows key is not required at all. Simply pressing . (period) or , (comma) takes you to the next or previous topic.

Now...what about some uses for the 'right menu replacement key' - the one to the right of the right-hand-side Windows key? The only thing I've found that useful for is to escape right-click blocking on webpages (you know, when you right-click and a dialog box pops up instead of the menu)... just click on the page or use tab to select the link you want to right-click on, then press the key. Although right-clicks are blocked, the key is almost never blocked.

The windows key can be used for the following shortcuts, in Windows XP:

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