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A Shortcut for Switching Focus

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.

You probably already know that you can use the Alt+Tab shortcut to switch from one open application in Windows to another, right? What if you don't want to switch between applications, but simply want to switch to the desktop, then back to your application again? If you are using the mouse, you can click on the Show Desktop icon available in the Quick Launch toolbar, just to the right of the Start menu. (This depends on your version of Windows, obviously.)

Using the keyboard to switch focus in this manner is a bit different, however. Assuming you have an enhanced Windows keyboard—the one with the Windows key next to the Alt keys—then the answer is easy. In fact, there are two shortcuts you can use.

  • Press Windows+M to minimize all the open windows and change focus to the desktop. To return focus to where you were last working, using Shift+Windows+M.
  • Press Windows+D to minimize all the open windows and change focus to the desktop. Press Windows+D again, and focus is returned to the window in which you were previously working.

While this is not technically a Word tip (it is a Windows tip), it is a tip that can come in handy for those Word users who only want (or need) to use the keyboard.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10174) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.

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Comments for this tip:

K.Vee.Shanker.    28 Apr 2014, 01:25
Very Useful Tip. Thanks!
Corinne    25 Apr 2014, 13:04
Awesome, Bryan - that makes all the difference in the world. Thanks!
awyatt    25 Apr 2014, 09:21
Bryan: There is a difference between the two. (Sorry I didn't do the best job of explaining.)

Win+D is a toggle; it alternately hides all open windows and shows them again.

Win+M simply minimizes all open windows. Pressing it a second time does nothing, once the open windows are minimized.

Hope that helps.

-Allen
Bryan    25 Apr 2014, 08:57
@Corinne: Just press Tab instead of holding and you will move one window at a time. I've never used the feature, quite frankly. It's fancy, but holding Alt then pressing Tab also gives you window previews -- but you can see them all at once and use your mouse to select each one (or press Tab/Shift+Tab to move back and forth).

@Allen, is there a difference between Windows+M and Windows+D? I've never been able to figure it out, and your descriptions make it seem like it's the same thing.
Corinne    25 Apr 2014, 08:09
Wow, Windows+tab is pretty wild! Moves kinda fast, though... it's tricky to stop it at the window you want.
Brian Ray    25 Apr 2014, 07:30
What about Windows's+tab ! That's awesome too. I use them all..

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