Microsoft's latest server OS is more dependent on the keyboard than any version of Windows Server that I can remember—and I've used them all. If you're working with Windows Server 2012, here are 10 keyboard shortcuts that you definitely need to know. And if you manage Windows Server systems remotely through Remote Desktop, remember to set the Apply Windows key combinations RDP setting to On the remote computer.
1. Windows key+X—The mother of all Windows Server 2012 keyboard shortcuts, the Win+X combination is an absolute necessity. It lets you access:
- Programs and Features
- Power Options
- Event Viewer
- Device Manager
- Disk Management
- Computer Management
- Command Prompt
- Task Manager
- Control Panel
- File Explorer
It seems like Microsoft put everything it couldn't find a better place for under the Win+X shortcut.
2. Windows key+I—Probably the next most important keyboard shortcut is the Win+I combination. The Win+I keyboard shortcut opens the new Windows Server 2012 Settings menu where you can access Control Panel, Personalization, Server Info, and Help options. It also provides access to Network options, Audio options, Brightness settings, Notifications, Keyboard, and Power options.
3. Windows key—The Windows key toggles between the desktop and the new Start screen. For the most part, you'll probably use this key to get back to the desktop because there really isn't much you're going to do with the Start screen on a server. If your keyboard doesn't have a Windows key, you can also use the Ctrl+Esc key combination.
4. Ctrl+C: copy; Ctrl+X: cut; Ctrl+V: paste; Ctrl+Z: undo—This venerable set of keyboard shortcuts is still quite viable in Windows Server 2012. You can use them in Notepad and Windows Explorer, as well as other applications such as Microsoft Office.
5. Alt+F4—The Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut closes a program, just like clicking the X icon in the upper-right corner of desktop applications. The Alt+F4 keyboard combination also works for newer Windows 8–style applications, which is useful if you can't figure out how to get out of one of those apps.
6. Windows key+E—The Win+E keyboard shortcut opens Windows Explorer. Win+E works on both the desktop and the Start screen. When you use this keyboard shortcut, it opens Windows Explorer to the Computer folder.
7. Windows key+Shift+Tab—By this time, I'm sure you're beginning to see how important keyboard shortcuts are to Windows Server 2012. The Win+Shift+Tab keyboard combination cycles through open applications. This combination also works with Windows 8 applications.
8. Windows key+R—The Win+R keyboard combination opens a Run prompt where you can enter the path and name of a program to run. The program launches with the same privileges that you're logged in with. If you're logged in as Administrator, the program runs with administrative privileges.
9. Windows key+Q—Another useful keyboard shortcut in Windows Server 2012, Win+Q opens the Apps Search dialog box, which lets you enter the name of the application you want to run. In addition, a listing of all installed applications is shown on the screen.
10. Windows key+L—Found in earlier versions of Windows Server, the Win+L combination locks the computer and requires a login to re-access the system. Win+L is particularly useful if you need to step away from your system for a few minutes.
Related: Remote Desktop Keyboard Shortcuts