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Windows 8 cheat sheet

Preston Gralla | Oct. 29, 2012
How to find your way around Microsoft's new OS and make the most of its features

Windows 8 supports a whole host of touch-screen gestures, including the swiping, pinching and rotating motions familiar to smartphone and tablet users. Tapping an item opens it; pressing and holding an item pops up a menu to display more information about it. Note, however, that these gestures often don't work in Desktop apps. (See "Meet the Start screen" for the differences between Desktop apps and Windows 8 apps.)

Windows 8 also uses something called edge UIs, in which you swipe from the edge of the screen toward the center. Swiping in from the right edge of the screen displays the Charms bar. Swiping quickly in and back out from the left edge of the screen cycles through your open apps.

While the previous edge UI gestures work universally, some are specific to Windows 8 apps. When you're in a Windows 8 app, swiping up from the bottom of the screen or swiping down from the top of the screen displays the App bar (more on that in a moment). And you can close a Windows 8 app by pulling down from the top edge of the screen all the way to the bottom of the screen. The app shrinks to a thumbnail and then disappears.

Following is a list of useful Windows 8 gestures, including more edge UI gestures. Keep in mind that not all of the following gestures work in all places and apps. Typically, they don't work in Desktop apps.

Windows 8 touch gestures

Gesture What it does
Tap Open an item. It's the equivalent of clicking with a mouse.
Press and hold Pop up a menu to display more information about the item.
Press and hold, slide and release Move an item to a new location. It's the equivalent of dragging an item with a mouse.
Pinch with two fingers Zoom out. Used in apps such as Maps where you commonly zoom in and out.
Spread two fingers apart Zoom in. Used in apps such as Maps where you commonly zoom in and out.
Rotate with two fingers Rotate the display in the direction you move your fingers. Very few apps use this gesture.
Swipe horizontally Scroll sideways through a screen, such as the Start screen to see apps off to the right side.
Swipe vertically Scroll up or down.
Short downward swipe on an item Select the item and show additional options, often in an App bar.
On the lock screen, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen Display the login screen.
In a Windows 8 app, swipe in from the upper or lower edge of the screen Activate the App bar.
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to the center Display the Charms bar.
Swipe quickly in from left edge of the screen Display a thumbnail of the previously run app.
Swipe slowly in from the left edge of the screen Display a second app side-by-side with the current app on your screen.
Swipe quickly in from the left edge of the screen, then swipe quickly back Display thumbnails of all your running apps.
Pull down from the top of the screen to the bottom Close a Windows 8 app.
In Internet Explorer (Windows 8 version only), swipe right or left Go forward or back.

Keyboard shortcuts

 

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