Category Archives: Start menu

Windows key+E: Show Windows Explorer

Personally, I use this one many times a day: Pressing the Windows key plus the letter E runs the Windows Explorer, which lets you browse files on your computer.

Once you have the Explorer running, you can navigate the directory tree on the left with the arrow keys. Up and down move up and down the items; to expand one of the plus signs press the right arrow. Left arrow jumps up to the top of the current directory tree, and then pressing it again closes the current directory if you’re at the top of a directory.

Press Tab to cycle between the directory tree (on the left), the address bar (at the top, where you can type in a location such as “C:\music”), the file list (on the right), and the menu bar.

In the directory tree or the file list, pressing a letter jumps down to the next file or directory in the list that begins with that letter.

Remember, you can use Shift plus arrows to select files in a group. (You can also Ctrl+left click to select arbitrary files. You can press Ctrl+Spacebar to do the same, and keep the Ctrl held down while you use the arrow keys to move up and down the file list while moving to the next file.)

Press Delete to delete the selected file or directory (or more than one if you have selected more than one). Anything deleted will go to the trash. However, pressing Shift+Delete will delete the file permanently, without it going to the trash. You can also copy selected files by press Ctrl+C (and then Ctrl+V in a new directory to paste them, finishing the copy). Or, substitute Ctrl+X for Ctrl+C to move the selected files.

Ctrl+Esc, U, Enter: Shutdown Windows (XP and earlier)

This is a keyboard sequence, so let’s understand it in order:

  • Ctrl+Esc opens the Start menu. (Instead, you could use the Windows key.)
  • Pressing the u key selects whichever menu item has an underlined u. In this case, we want to select the “Shut Down…” command. The “u” in “Shut Down…” is underlined, which means you can press the u key key to select it. (Note that if your menu has other options that begin with a U, such as “User Preferences,” then you’ll have to hit u more than once and then hit Enter when Shut Down is selected.)
  • A dialog box labeled “Shut Down Windows” or “Turn off computer” appears. Windows remembers the last option you selected when shutting down. If “Shut down” is the highlighted option, you can press Enter to select it. If the wrong option is selected, you can change the selected option with the arrow keys before you press Enter.

“Windows” key: Open the Start menu

Welcome to the Windows Keyboard Shortcut of the Day blog! (You can read more about this blog if you like.)

We’ll start things off with the “Windows” key. Most computer keyboards built since 1995 have this key, usually down between the Alt and Ctrl keys, to the left of the Spacebar. On most keyboards, it looks like this:

Public domain image of the white four-segment Windows key icon shown on a black key.  From SXC via Wikipedia; artist or photographer unknown; creation date unknown.

Pressing this key (by itself) opens the Start menu. Pressing it again switches off the Start menu.

Once the Start menu is open, you can use the arrow keys to select a menu item. Pressing the Enter key launches the selected menu item.

What if you don’t have a Windows key on your keyboard? Just press Ctrl+Esc instead.