Windows logo key (also known as Windows key, start key, logo key, flag key or flag) is a keyboard key which was originally introduced on the Microsoft Natural keyboard before the release of Windows 95. This key became a standard key on PC keyboards. Tapping this key invokes the operating system's start menu, if it has one. In Windows, Ctrl+Esc performs the same function, in case the keyboard lacks this key.
Historically, the addition of two Windows keys and a menu key marked the change from the 101/102-key to 104/105-key layout for PC keyboards: compared to the former layout, a Windows key was placed between the left Ctrl and the left Alt; another Windows key and—immediately to its right—a menu key were placed between the AltGr (or right Alt key on keyboards that lack AltGr) and the right control key. In laptop and other compact keyboards it is common to have just one Windows key (usually on the left). Also, on Microsoft's Entertainment Desktop sets (designed for Windows Vista), the Windows key is in the middle of the keyboard, below all other keys (where the user's thumbs rest).
On Windows 8 tablet computers, hardware certification requirements dictate that the Windows key is centered on the bezel below the screen, except on a convertible laptop, where the button is allowed to be off-center in a tablet configuration.
Microsoft regulates the appearance of the Windows key logo picture with a specially crafted license for keyboard manufacturers ("Microsoft Windows Logo Key Logo License Agreement for Keyboard Manufacturers"). With the introduction of a new Microsoft Windows logo, first used with Windows XP, the agreement was updated to require that the new design be adopted for all keyboards manufactured after September 1, 2003. However, with the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft published guidelines for a new Windows Logo key that incorporates the Windows logo recessed in a chamfered lowered circle with a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 with respect to background that the key is applied to.
Use with Microsoft Windows
On Windows 9x and Windows NT families of Windows operating system, tapping the Windows key by itself traditionally revealed Windows Taskbar (if not visible) and opened the Start menu. Starting with Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, this key still launches the Start menu but no longer shows the taskbar.
Pressing the key in combination with other keys allows invoking many common functions through the keyboard. What Windows key combinations ("shortcuts") are available and active in a given Windows session depends on many factors, such as accessibility options, the type of the session (regular or Terminal Services), the Windows version, the presence of specific software such as IntelliType and Group Policy if applicable.
Below is a list of notable shortcuts. Unless otherwise noted, they are valid in the next version of Windows.
- ⊞ Win+D shows the desktop, or restore hidden programs when pressed a second time.
- ⊞ Win+E opens Windows Explorer.
- ⊞ Win+F opens Find files and folders.
- ⊞ Win+M minimizes all windows.
- ⊞ Win+⇧ Shift+M restores windows that were minimized with ⊞ Win+M.
- ⊞ Win+R opens the Run dialog box.
- ⊞ Win+U runs Utility Manager.
- ⊞ Win+Pause or ⊞ Win+Break opens properties of My Computer.
- ⊞ Win+F1 opens Windows Help.
- ⊞ Win+Ctrl+F opens Find computers.
- ⊞ Win+Tab ↹ cycles through taskbar buttons.
Windows XP adds the following shortcuts.
- ⊞ Win+B selects the first icon in the Notification Area.
- ⊞ Win+Ctrl+F opens Search for Computers. Requires Active Directory Domain Services.
- ⊞ Win+Ctrl+Alt+↵ Enter toggles full screen in Internet Explorer. This shortcut has been discontinued, replaced by F11.[when?]
- ⊞ Win+L locks the desktop and prepares for switching users if Fast User Switching is enabled.
Windows XP Media Center Edition
Windows XP Media Center Edition adds the following:
- ⊞ Win+Alt+↵ Enter starts Windows Media Center.
Windows Vista adds the following shortcuts:
- ⊞ Win+G selects next Windows Sidebar gadget item, bringing all gadgets to the foreground in process.
- ⊞ Win+Space bar toggles Windows Sidebar. Windows Sidebar was discontinued in Windows 7.
- ⊞ Win+X invokes Windows Mobility Center. Works only if portable computer features are installed. This key combination is reassigned in Windows 8.
- ⊞ Win+Tab ↹ switches active app using Aero Flip 3D. Requires desktop composition, a feature of Windows Aero. Aero Flip 3D is discontinued in Windows 8 and this key is reassigned.
- ⊞ Win+Ctrl+Tab ↹ is same as above, but Aero Flip 3D remains even when this key combination is released. Arrow keys or mouse may be used to navigate between windows.
- ⊞ Win+1 through ⊞ Win+9, ⊞ Win+0 starts the corresponding Quick Launch Bar program. ⊞ Win+0 runs the tenth item. Quick Launch is discontinued in Windows 7.
Windows 7 introduces the following:
- ⊞ Win+Space bar activates Aero Peek. Reassigned in Windows 8.
- ⊞ Win+P toggles between the devices that receive video card's output. The default is computer monitor only. Other options are video projector only, both showing the same image and both showing a portion of a larger desktop.
- ⊞ Win+↑ maximizes the active window.
- ⊞ Win+↓ restores the default window size and state of the active window, if maximized. Otherwise, minimizes the active window.
- ⊞ Win+← or → to align the window to the corresponding side of the screen, maximizing it vertically.
- ⊞ Win+⇧ Shift+← or → to move the window to the next or previous monitor, if multiple monitors are used
- ⊞ Win+T to iterate through items on the taskbar.
- ⊞ Win++ or ⊞ Win to zoom into the screen at the mouse cursor position using the Magnifier Utility.
- ⊞ Win+- to zoom out if the Magnifier Utility is running.
- ⊞ Win+Esc to exit zoom.
- ⊞ Win+1 through ⊞ Win+9, ⊞ Win+0 to either start or switch to the corresponding program pinned to taskbar. ⊞ Win+0 runs the tenth item. Press multiple times to cycle through the application's open windows. Press and release quickly to keep the taskbar's preview open (which allows you to cycle using arrow keys).
- ⊞ Win+Home minimizes/restores all windows other than the active window
Windows 8 introduces the following:
- ⊞ Win+C opens the charms.
- ⊞ Win+F opens Search charm in file mode to search for computer files. If the Search charm is already open, switches to file search mode.
- ⊞ Win+W opens Search charm in settings mode to search for Control Panel applets. If the Search charm is already open, switches to settings search mode.
- ⊞ Win+Q opens Search charm in app mode to search for app shortcuts and executable files. If the search charm is already open, it has no effects.
- ⊞ Win+H opens the Share charm.
- ⊞ Win+K opens the Devices charm for printing, connecting to a second screen/projector, or pushing multimedia content via Play To.
- ⊞ Win+I opens Settings charm, where app-specific settings, network options and shutdown button is located.
- ⊞ Win+X opens Quick Links menu and grants access to several frequently used features of Windows, such as accessing desktop or File Explorer. With Windows 8.1 update, it includes a shortcut to shutdown or restart the computer.
- ⊞ Win+Z or right click opens the command bar for Metro-style apps. This bar appears at the bottom of the screen and replaces both context menu and toolbar in Metro-style apps.
- ⊞ Win+Tab ↹ invokes the app switcher and changes between Metro-style apps. Unlike Alt+Tab ↹, the app switcher does not include windows that appear on desktop.
- ⊞ Win+Space bar changes input method. Unlike Alt+⇧ Shift, this combination also causes a pop-up notification to appear.
- ⊞ Win+PrtScr or ⊞ Win+Volume up instantly saves a screenshot to the "Screenshots" folder in "Pictures" library. All screenshots are saved as PNG files.
Windows 8.1 introduces the following:
- ⊞ Win+O locks device orientation
- ⊞ Win+S activates the Search Everywhere charm, opening a sidebar at the side of the screen.
- ⊞ Win+U activates the Ease of Access Center control panel applet
- ⊞ Win+V cycles through notifications
Additional installed software may introduce other shortcuts using the Windows key. For example, Microsoft OneNote adds several shortcuts:
- ⊞ Win+S to take a screenshot for OneNote; conflicts with ⊞ Win+⇧ Shift+S on Windows 8.1.
- ⊞ Win+N to open a new side note in OneNote.
- ⊞ Win+⇧ Shift+N to open OneNote.
Use with non-Microsoft operating systems
The Windows key can also be used on other operating systems.
On Unix and Unix-like operating systems, it is sometimes called "Meta" or "Super". The X window system usually treats this key as modifier MOD4. KDE and GNOME, which are commonly the default desktop environments of Linux distributions usually support the key, though it may be necessary to configure its functionality after installation. GNOME Shell uses the Super key as its default keyboard shortcut for bringing up the Activities Overview. Similarly, Cinnamon uses the Super key to pop-up its main system menu (normally docked at lower-left of screen). In the Compiz window manager, the Super key can by default be used in conjunction with the scroll wheel to zoom in or out of any part of the desktop. OS X uses the Windows key as a replacement for the Command key if the keyboard does not include the latter. This sometimes leads to placement issues for users used to Apple keyboards however, as the Command key is usually placed where the Alt key is on most keyboards (next to the Space bar).
On Xbox 360, pressing the Windows key performs the same action as the Guide button on Xbox 360 Controller or remote controls, opening the Xbox Guide. Holding down the Windows key and pressing M opens a pop up conversation window over gameplay, if an instant message conversation is in progress. On a PlayStation 3 console, pressing the Windows key performs the same action as the PS Button on the Sixaxis Controller, opening the XrossMediaBar.
- Initially, 104-key keyboards were frequently called "Windows keyboards" but this denomination has become less and less used with time.
- "Windows Hardware Certification Requirements for Client and Server Systems". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Amendment to the Windows Key Logo License Agreement (page no longer accessible)
- Windows Vista Hardware Start Button
- Windows 95 Tips.txt File Contents.
- Microsoft Windows shortcut keys.
- "Keyboard shortcuts - Windows 8, Windows RT". Windows 8, RT Help. Microsoft. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
- Thurrot, Paul (26 June 2013). "Hands-On with Windows 8.1: Power User Menu". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Penton. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Chen, Raymond (14 January 2014). "How do I hit the Win+PrintScreen hotkey if my tablet doesn't have a PrtSc key?". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Keyboard shortcuts Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1". Microsoft. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
- Video demonstration of the Windows Key shortcuts in Windows XP
- Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts
- Windows Vista keyboard shortcuts
- Windows XP keyboard shortcuts
- Windows 95, 98, Me keyboard shortcuts
- Overriding or Disabling Default WinKey Keyboard Shortcuts