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by Phil Ball

Q. I was taught that the computer keyboard is very much like that on my old typewriter but I find there are several keys that were never on my old Royal. I sorta understand the CTRL and the ALT key, but what is the one that sorta looks like a little flag?

A. Between the CTRL and the ALT key at the bottom of the keyboard is a key marked with a little flag symbol, commonly called the Windows key. Surprisingly, some laptop keyboards don’t have this key, much to my regret for I have a lot of use for this key.
Here are the most common Windows-key shortcuts that will help you work faster:

Windows key (only) - Opens or closes the Start menu.

Windows + E - Opens Windows Explorer (the file-management tool, not the browser). This is much quicker than right-clicking the Start button and then Explore, or trying to find Explorer in the Start menu. I use this combination every day. I’ve done so for so long that I cannot remember any other way to get to my filing system (My Computer).

Also used but not as often:

Windows + D - Minimizes all open windows so you can see the desktop. A second tap restores them.

Windows + Pause - Displays the System Properties dialog box.

Windows + a number (in Vista and Windows 7) - Starts the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the program is already running, it switches to that program.

Published: Courier 1/17/10 - Page 5C