Five important Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

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Regular readers know of my fondness for keyboard shortcuts, especially those that help me navigate in and around Windows more easily.

If ever I needed "more easily," it's for Windows 8. Microsoft's new OS has earned its share of critics (myself among them) for being unintuitive, with various popular functions (like, say, Shut Down) unusually hard to find.

Thankfully, Microsoft didn't forget to pack Windows 8 with helpful keyboard shortcuts. Here are five I think you'll want to learn pronto.

(Note: In case you're new to keyboard shortcuts, all of these involve holding down the Windows key (it's to the left of the space bar), then tapping the appropriate letter or function key.)

Windows-C Immediately brings up the Charms bar, for quick access to things like Search, Share, and Settings.

Windows-D Switches you to Desktop mode—a place I suspect many users will prefer to hang out, at least initially. Once you're in that mode, pressing Windows-D again toggles between minimize/restore all windows, same as in Windows 7.

Windows-I Brings up the Settings charm, where you'll find—among other things—the Power icon for shutting down the PC.

Windows-PrtSc This handy new feature instantly captures a screenshot and saves it (in PNG format) to a Screenshots subfolder in your Pictures folder.

Windows-X Pops up a decidedly old-school menu of Windows tools, including Power Options, Device Manager, Disk Management, and Command Prompt.

So there you go: Five Windows 8 shortcuts you'll be glad you know. Have you found any others worth mentioning? If so, mention them! In the comments, of course.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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