Navigating Windows 8 Beta with only Touch, Mouse or Keyboard

Since the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Summit and the release of Windows 8 beta, I’ve been making serious use of my Windows Build conference tablet in different situations.  Sometimes (due to chosen hardware, dead mouse batteries, etc.) I didn’t have input access via touch, keyboard or mouse.  It’s even possible to find oneself having only one more of access.  This can make getting around Windows more interesting, but Microsoft has made practically every navigation action available through all input modes.  I’ve created a list of how to do major Windows 8 navigation using each of these input modes…



The image above makes me wonder if Microsoft will release new versions of hardware with the new Windows Logo.  Just like Star Wars fans get new releases of the episodes, will serious Microsoft fans buy the same keyboard again to get the new logo?

Note that having only a keyboard and no Windows key can be quite problematic.  It’s possible to use Ctrl-Esc to simulate it, but things get sticky from there.

This list is not intended to be a fuller list of Windows Key(board) shortcuts, many of which apply to the the Windows desktop.


Only Touch

Only Keyboard

Only Mouse

Go to text/data entry field

Tap  it

Tab and arrow-key to it

Click it

Activate button

Tap it

Tab to it, press Enter

Click it

Enter text

Select entry field (above), type with on-screen keyboard (which comes up automatically with Metro apps; tap keyboard tray icon on desktop).

Use it.

Use on-screen keyboard.  Bring it up using: right-click empty start-menu, click All Apps, mouse-wheel or scroll bar over to On-screen keyboard (under Windows Ease of Access), click it.

Unlock computer (with regular password)

Swipe up, tap password field, enter password, tap Enter

Press any key, type password, press Enter

Drag picture up, click “Ease of access” button in lower left, click “On-screen keyboard”, click password keys, click Enter.

Go to Start Screen

Swipe in over right-edge and tap Windows icon OR swipe in over left edge (about an inch) and then back out again immediately, then tap Start screen thumbnail at bottom left.

Windows key OR Ctrl-Esc

Place pointer in bottom left of screen and click Start screen thumbnail.

Lock Computer

Go to Start Screen, tap user details at top-right, tap Lock

Windows key + L OR Windows key to Start Screen, Tab, Enter, Down arrow to Lock, Enter.

Go to Start Screen, click user details at top-right, click Lock

Move left/right on start screen

Swipe left or right

Tab and arrow-key

Use scrollbar at bottom or mouse wheel.

Launch app on start screen

Tap it

Tab and arrow-key to it and press Enter

Click it

Close app

For Metro apps, Swipe in over top end and drag off bottom edge.

For desktop apps, tap close icon at top-right.


For Metro apps, drag down from top edge and drag off bottom edge.

For desktop apps, click close icon at top-right.

Zoom start screen

Pinch or stretch with two fingers

Windows Key + minus/plus (use CTRL if no separate numeric pad)

CTRL + mouse wheel

Bring up app bar

Swipe in over top or bottom edge

Windows key + Z

Right-click on empty app area

Cancel app bar

Tap empty app area

Windows key + Z

Click on empty app area

Select start screen item

Small down-ward flick

Move to it with Tab and arrow-keys then Menu key (or Shift F10)


Show all apps (on start screen)

Bring up app bar, tap All apps

Windows key + Z, enter

Right-click on empty areas, click all Apps

Show Charms (Start/Search/Share/Settings/Devices)

Swipe in over right edge

Windows key + C

Place pointer in top/bottom right edge, wait for overlay, then move down/up

Search for an app (on start screen)

Show Charms, tap Search, tap search box, tap in query

Windows key + Q

Show Charms, click Search, Click search box, enter query

Go to Search (in app context)

Same as above

Same as above

Same as above

Go to Share

Show Charms, tap Share

Windows key + H

Show Charms, click Share.

Go to Settings

Show Charms, tap Settings.

Windows key + I

Show Charms, click Settings

Go to Devices

Show Charms, tap Devices

Windows key + K

Show Charms, click Devices

Go to file search

Go to Search, then tap on Files

Windows key + F

Go to Search, then click on Files

Switch/toggle main app between current and previous app

Swipe in just over left edge.  Wait approx. 2seconds before repeating.


Place pointer in top-left corner, click thumbnail, move pointer aware.

Go back to previous apps (as main app)

Swipe in just over left edge, repeating at needed with less than approx. 2 seconds between swipes.

Hold ALT, keep pressing TAB.  Press Esc before releasing ALT to cancel.

Place point in top-left corner, click thumbnail repeatedly.

Go to recent app (as main app)

Swipe in just over left edge (about an inch) and then back out again immediately, then tap desired thumbnail.

Hold Windows Key, keep pressing TAB.  Do Windows Key + CTRL + TAB to be able to use arrow keys.

Place pointer in top/bottom-left corner and move down/up, click thumbnail.

Snap previous app to edge

Swipe in just over left edge, pause and release (or over to other edge).

Switch to previous app, then Windows key + . (or SHIFT . for right edge).

Place pointer in top-left corner, drag thumbnail down and about an inch in from left (or right).

Snap specific app to edge

Swipe in/out just over left edge.  Drag thumbnail to one inch from left or right right.

Go to other apps, then Windows key + . (or SHIFT . for right edge) to snap to edge.

Place pointer in top/bottom-left corner, move down/up, drag thumbnail to one inch from left (or right).

Remove snapped app

Drag divider line to closest edge

Windows key + . (when snapped on right).

Windows key + SHIFT (when snapped on left)

Drag divider line to closest edge

Switch which app is side app vs. main app

Drag divider line

Windows key + . (when snapped on left).

Windows key + SHIFT (when snapped on right)

Drag divider line

Switch focus between main and snapped app

Tap in other app

Windows key + J

Click in other app

Go to Windows desktop

Locate on start menu and tap

Windows key + D

Locate on start menu and click

Show advanced tools menu


Windows key + X

Place point in bottom-left corner, right-click.


4 thoughts on “Navigating Windows 8 Beta with only Touch, Mouse or Keyboard

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