Q

No touchscreen, no problem -- using a keyboard for Windows 8 interface

The Windows 8 interface may seem daunting to those without touchscreens. However, it's possible to work around gestures using some keyboard commands.

I'm planning on adding Windows 8 to a machine that doesn't have a touchscreen. What gestures in the Windows 8 interface are emulated through the keyboard?

The least expensive way to use Windows 8 with a machine that has no touchscreen is to learn about and master the keyboard shortcuts that emulate many of the touch-based actions. That way, you can use those functions on most any computer, regardless of what sort of input devices it has.

Here are some of the most common keyboard commands that emulate touch gestures in Windows 8:

Winkey+C: Open the "charms bar." This brings up the vertical bar along the right side of the screen that contains quick links to the Start menu, the Search functions and so on.

Winkey+Q: Search. In Windows 8, this function by default searches only the installed apps. In Windows 8.1 -- formerly code-named "Windows Blue" -- it opens a more general search menu that behaves more like the type-to-search function from Windows 7, which returned results in many categories.

Winkey+Tab: Cycle through all open apps. Note that this excludes desktop apps.

Winkey+Period/Shift+Period: Snap. Snaps the currently open app to the right or left side of the display, respectively.

Winkey+J: Swap. Swap the main app and whatever app has been snapped to the side of the display.

Microsoft provides a full rundown of all the hotkeys in the Windows 8 interface, and they emulate just about all the gestures used in the system.

This was first published in September 2013

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