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by JB Burke

Q. I have a Windows 7 system, and on the keyboard there is a key with what looks like the Windows logo. What is that for?

A. That Windows key can do a host of things that will make computing easier. I won't try to describe everything it can do. Here's a web site that gives a full explanation of everything it's capable of. But here are a few that we find particularly useful.

If you have your hands on the keyboard already, clicking the Windows key opens the Start menu, which is faster than grabbing the mouse and clicking on Start. Hold down the Windows key and press D, and you'll see the desktop (everything is temporarily minimized). Do it again and everything you had open is back on the desktop.

Next, Windows key + E opens "Computer", that is, a list of all your drives and partitions, etc. Windows key + F opens the Windows search box, where you can look for files and folders. Here's one I use all the time – Windows key + L locks your desktop. If you have a password on your computer, and you should for security, then this is a fast and easy way to lock your desktop when you walk away from your PC.

Here are some ways that the Windows key helps make me more productive. I frequently want to be able to see two windows side-by-side, for comparing or copying information. Examples would be Microsoft Word next to Excel, or my browser (I use Firefox.) next to a PowerPoint presentation that I am working on. I could open each such program and manually resize it to one half of the screen. But a much easier route is to click on the application window (Word for example), then hold the Windows key while tapping the left or right cursor arrow. That program is instantly resized to the left or right half of the screen. I do the same with my other program and now I've got my screen set up for productivity.

Published: Courier 9/21/14 - Page 4D