Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Keyboard shortcuts are still the best way to zoom around your computer quickly. We’ve covered the best Microsoft Office shortcuts and even how to make your own shortcuts in case the hundreds of default ones aren’t enough for you.
What we haven’t yet covered are keyboard shortcuts for the Windows Taskbar. Here are all the best shortcuts you can use to make the Taskbar even better.
A few notes:
- Keys appear in bold.
- We’ll abbreviate Control as Ctrl, and Windows Key as Win.
- Keyboard shortcuts that you press at the same time will use a + symbol (e.g. Ctrl + S).
There are a few keyboard shortcuts that will pop open various menus related to the Taskbar. Pressing Win opens the Start Menu. Once you have it open, you can immediately start typing to search your computer and the web. You can also use the arrow keys to scroll through each section of the Start Menu, and Tab to switch between the sections.
Press Win + X to open the Power User Menu. This contains several quick shortcuts to often-used Windows utilities, such as the Control Panel, Command Prompt, and Programs and Features menu. You can use the arrow keys to select an item here, but there’s an even faster way.
See the underlined letter under each entry (y for System, for example)? Just press the corresponding letter, and Windows will launch the corresponding tool. You can also quickly shut down your computer using these underlined letters.
To open Cortana’s window, press Win + S. You can start typing here to search for something, or quickly click one of Cortana’s options. To start Cortana in listening mode instead, press Win + C.
Open Any Program on the Taskbar
One of the best Taskbar shortcuts allows you to open any of the first ten programs pinned to your Taskbar. To launch an app, just press Win + 1 through Win + 0 to open the program in that position. So, Win + 1 opens the leftmost icon on your Taskbar, while Win + 0 opens the tenth item.
If you press the Shift button in addition to Win and a number, you can open a new copy of the app. This is handy for opening a new, say, Notepad window without touching what you currently have written. You can also open an app as an Administrator with Ctrl + Shift + Win + Number.
To freely browse the apps on your Taskbar, just press Win + T. You can move between them with the arrow keys and launch an app with Enter. The above Shift and Ctrl + Shift modifiers work with this method, as well.
Access the System Tray and Action Center
Let’s give the right side of the Taskbar some love, too. Pressing Win + B highlights the System Tray, which shows icons of running apps. Use the arrow keys to select an item and press Enter to launch it. You can do this on the white arrow to see all the icons if some are hidden.
Press Win + A to open the Action Center, showing all of your notifications. Use the arrow keys to move between notification entries, and Tab to switch between sections of the Action Center. In particular, using Tab a few times lets you access the quick shortcuts menu at the bottom. Here, you can easily change the brightness, activate airplane mode, and use a variety of other useful settings.
Work With Multiple Desktops
We’ve written all about how great virtual desktops are, and a few shortcuts make working with them even easier.
Press Win + Ctrl + D to add a new virtual desktop, and Win + Tab for the Task View which lets you view all desktops. To switch between desktops instantly, press Win + Ctrl + Left/Right arrow. You can close your current desktop with Win + Ctrl + F4.
Mouse and Keyboard Combo Shortcuts
While mouse shortcuts aren’t quite as fast as pure keyboard shortcuts, there are still a few worth keeping in mind. Most of these duplicate functionality discussed earlier, but are a little easier to reach and remember since they don’t require holding down three or more keys.
Click any app on your Taskbar while holding Shift to open a new copy of it. Hold Ctrl + Shift while you click a program to launch it as an Admin. If you want to access the context menu for an app (to restore or move a window), hold Shift when you right-click it.
Odds and Ends
There are a few other shortcuts worth mentioning that don’t belong anywhere else. Some of these don’t explicitly deal with the Taskbar, but they’re close so we’re including them here.
To have a peek at your awesome desktop wallpaper, press Win + Comma. Using Alt + Tab to switch between open windows is faster than manually clicking apps on the Taskbar each time. You can use Win + I to open Settings or Win + R to open the Run menu, which is faster than doing so via the Start Menu.
Finally, press Win + D to show the desktop, and Win + M to minimize all windows. This is way faster than manually clicking the Minimize button on each window.
How Do You Use the Taskbar?
It’s daunting to work dozens of keyboard shortcuts into your workflow, so practice just a few of these until you start using them without thinking! You might not need all of them, but using some will cut down on wasted time with your mouse and contribute to a more productive workflow. Everybody can benefit from that!
For even more shortcuts, check out the ultimate Windows keyboard shortcut guide.
Did we miss any of your favorite Taskbar shortcuts? Please tell us which of these shortcuts save you the most time by leaving a comment!