When Windows 8 first came out and people sat down at their computer to use it, the first common reaction was just plain confusion. Everything had changed. The Start button didn’t do what it did in Windows 7, and people didn’t know how to get to the places they used to be very familiar with. If they had known this little secret key combination, they probably would have felt less stress and they may have actually gotten some work done.
Windows 10 is similar. Microsoft thinks we should be so grateful that they “gave” us back the Start menu, but the Windows 10 Start button and Start menu aren’t nearly as functional and practical as the one that came with Windows 7. It’s just one of the reasons I don’t recommend “upgrading” to Windows 10.
But even Microsoft has its fleeting moments of good judgement. Part of the design of Windows 8 includes a secret key combination that gives you a menu of the common places in your computer that you might want to find. That key combination works in Windows 10 also, and I use it quite often when I’m working with either of those versions of Windows on a client’s computer.
The key combination is: Windows key + X
Just hold down the Windows key (lower left area of the keyboard) and tap the letter “x”. This only works with Windows 8 and 10, so if you have Windows 7 you can’t use it (but if you have Windows 7, you don’t need this).
When you hit Windows + X, you’ll see a neat little “common places” menu pop up that looks like this:
This handy little menu is commonly called the Power User Menu, but it is also sometimes known as:
- Win + X menu
- Windows Tools menu
- WinX menu
- Power User Hotkeys
As you can see, there are some handy locations on there. Some of them you might not be all that familiar with. Here’s what I recommend, as an “educational exercise” and it won’t take long: Open the Power User menu, and click on the first place in the list. That way you’ll be able to see exactly that that is, so that you can access it in the future when you need to. Then open it again, and check the second one in the list and so on.
Here are a few examples:
- Want to uninstall a program on your computer that you no longer need? Programs and Features
- Want to set your laptop so that it goes into Sleep mode after 60 minutes of inactivity? Power Options
- Want to see how much memory your computer has, or what version of Windows you’re using? System
- Want to see all of your various drives, folders, etc.? File Explorer
- Saved a Word document but you don’t remember where? Search
- Are you lost and just want to get back to your icon screen? Desktop
It actually is a pretty handy thing to know about.
Even better is a tool called ClassicShell (get it free here). That’s a free program that actually gives you back the old Windows 7 Start Menu, on your Windows 8 or Windows 10 computer. When Windows 10 first came out, it didn’t work well with ClassicShell. That may have been resolved now.