A while back I published a post listing all the keyboard shortcuts available in Windows 10.
Almost immediately I began receiving messages asking me where the Windows key is.
Over the course of the next few hours I ended up receiving several such messages.
I guess I just took it for granted that Windows users would know about the ‘Windows’ key, but I really shouldn’t have.
After all, no one knows everything about the behemoth that is the Windows operating system, and not everyone has the same level of experience with using it.
After reflecting on it a while I decided it might be a good idea to write a post explaining what the Windows key is – and just as important, what it looks like and how to find it.
What is the Windows key (and what does it do)?
The Windows key is a special key on a Windows PC’s keyboard that’s serves as a “Modifier” key.
In a nutshell, a modifier key is a key that alters the function of another key when those keys are pressed at the same time.
What does the Windows key look like?
The Windows key looks like this:
Where is the Windows key located?
Although the actual location of the Windows key can vary a bit, on most PC keyboards you’ll find it sitting in the lower left-hand corner of the keyboard between the Ctrl and Alt keys.
Most people are familiar with the Ctrl, Shift and Alt modifier keys because they are commonly used to perform a number of important tasks when using various computer operating systems.
Here are a few common uses of modifier keys:
Note: In the examples below, the “plus sign” simply means to press the keys before and after it at the same time. You don’t need to press the ‘Plus’ key on your keyboard.
Example 1: Pressing the Ctrl+S key combination will save the currently open file in most any program that works with user files.
Example 2: Pressing the Alt+Print Screen key combination will capture a screenshot of the active window and save it to the Windows Clipboard. You can then “paste” the captured screenshot into your favorite image editor.
Example 3: Even if you have never used the Ctrl or Alt keys you have surely used the Shift key to type an upper case character into a document or form.
Just like the modifier keys mentioned above, the Windows key also makes other keys perform an alternate function when they are pressed at the same time.
Examples of commonly used keyboard shortcuts utilizing the Windows key:
Example 1: Pressing the Windows+E key combination will open a “File Explorer” window.
Example 2: Pressing Windows+S will open a “Search” dialog box.
Unlike the other modifier keys mentioned above, you can also use the Windows key all by itself…
Press the Windows key without pressing any other keys along with it and Windows 10’s “Start” menu will open up.
Bottom line: The Windows key is one of the handiest keys on the entire keyboard because it allows a host of other keys to perform useful functions that are in addition to their primary functions.