How to Fast-Switch to Your Windows Desktop

Use Windows key shortcuts to become a power user

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At the side of the keyboard space bar on your Windows laptop or desktop computer is a button with the Microsoft Windows flag icon on it. This key is called the Windows key and it is used in combination with other keys on the keyboard as a shortcut to specific actions. 

How to Display and Hide the Desktop

Use the Windows key+D shortcut to display and hide the desktop. Press and hold the Windows key and press D on the keyboard to cause the PC to switch to the desktop immediately and minimize all the open windows. Use the same shortcut to bring back all those open windows. You can use the Windows key+D shortcut to access My Computer or Recycle Bin or any folder on your desktop. You can also use the shortcut for privacy to quickly hide all your windows when someone approaches your desk.

Virtual Desktops

Windows 10 includes virtual desktops, which offer more than one version of your desktop. Use them to separate home from work activities, for example. 

Pressing the Windows key+Ctrl+D adds a new virtual desktop. Pressing the Windows key+Ctrl+the left and right arrows cycles through virtual desktops.

Other Windows Key Shortcuts

The Windows key used alone opens or closes the Start Menu, but when it is used in combination with other keys, it gives you enormous control over your computer. The trick is to remember which keyboard shortcut performs which action. Here's a list for you to reference.

  • Windows key+A opens the Action center.
  • Windows key+C opens Cortana in listening mode
  • Windows key+D fast-switches the desktop
  • Windows key+E opens File Explorer
  • Windows key+G opens game bar (when a game is open)
  • Windows key+I opens Settings
  • Windows key+K opens Connect
  • Windows key+L switches accounts or locks your PC
  • Windows key+M minimizes all the windows
  • Windows key+R opens the Run dialog box
  • Windows key+S opens Search
  • Windows key+U opens the Ease of Access center
  • Windows key+X opens the Quick Link menu
  • Windows key+left arrow key snaps app windows to the left
  • Windows key+right arrow key snaps app windows to the right
  • Windows key+up arrow key maximizes the app windows
  • Windows key+down arrow key minimizes the app windows
  • Windows key+a number opens the app that is pinned to the taskbar in that number's position
  • Windows key+comma opens a quick peek at the desktop
  • Windows key+Enter opens Narrator
  • Windows key+Home minimizes all but the active desktop window
  • Windows key+PrtScn captures a screenshot and saves it in the Screenshots folder
  • Windows key+Ctrl+F4 Closes the current virtual desktop
  • Windows key+Shift+Up arrow stretches the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen
  • Windows key+Tab opens Task view
  • Windows key++ zooms in
  • Windows key+- zooms out

After you master all the Windows key shortcuts, you might want to check out the combinations that use the Alt key and Ctrl key.