How to Use the Windows Keyboard Shortcut Alt + Underlined Key

Navigate menus in Windows without using your mouse

What to Know

  • To activate, select Start icon > Settings > Ease of Access > under Interaction, select Keyboard.
  • Next, turn on Underline access keys when available toggle > close window to save changes.
  • To use shortcuts, select Alt + corresponding underlined key.

This article explains how to activate and use the Alt + Underlined keyboard shortcut on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, and Windows XP.

Activating Underlined Keys in Newer Windows Versions

If you're on an older version of Windows, this feature is automatic, but later versions don't have this feature on by default.

Here's how to activate the feature if it isn't already on.

  1. Select Start icon or the Windows key.

    A Windows 10 desktop with the Start menu highlighted
  2. Choose Settings (gear icon).

    Start menu in Windows 10 with the Settings button highlighted
  3. Select Ease of Access.

    Windows 10 settings with the Ease of Access menu highlighted
  4. Scroll down to the Interaction heading and select Keyboard.

    Ease of Use menu in Windows 10 with the Keyboard menu highlighted
  5. Under Change how keyboard shortcuts work, turn on the Underline access keys when available toggle.

    Keyboard Ease of Use menu in Windows 10 with the "Underline access keys when available" item highlighted
  6. Close the window to save your changes.

  7. Now, in menus, the keys you can use with the Alt key will have underlines when you hold the Alt key.

    Notepad on Windows 10 with the File menu title highlighted
  8. Keep holding down Alt to keep making selections within menus. For example, hold Alt and press F to open a File menu. Keep holding Alt and press W to open a new window.

Modern Apps

More recent programs are doing away with the customary menu bar that we're used to seeing in Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows. 

Even some programs in Windows 7 have this more modern, menu-less look. Nevertheless, you can still use the Alt+letter shortcut in Windows 10. In many applications, the letters don't have underlines, but the feature still works the same way.

Windows Store apps generally do not offer this feature.

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