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The different ways to navigate Windows 11

If you have used Windows before, you are well versed with the Start menu. But did you know that there are other ways to get around inside Windows 11? Let's take a look at the different ways to navigate Windows 11.

The different ways to navigate Windows 11

In the early versions of Windows, you only had the Program Manager to make your way around Windows. But in 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95 with a new way of navigating Windows, the Start menu.

Over the years, the look of the Start menu has changed. It has had several different Windows logos, flat/rounded/beveled edges, but it always worked the same way.

Then came Windows 8, and Microsoft changed the Start menu. The Start menu was replaced with the Start screen, and navigating Windows would never be the same.

When Windows users complained about the Windows 8 Start screen, Microsoft introduced the Power User menu in Windows 8.1. That made finding the more popular features easier, like Settings, System, and Computer Management.

So when Windows 10 was released, the Start menu came back along with the Power User menu. A few other cool features were added to the Start menu, including the ability to change the accent color of the Start menu.

With Windows 11, Microsoft changed the look and feel of the Start menu, but all of the essential functions are still there. The Start menu layout changed, but the learning curve is really mild.

Windows 11 Start menu

The Start menu is the traditional way of getting around Windows 11. As with every version of Windows, Microsoft has made some changes to its appearance.

With Windows 11, you can change the location of the Start menu to either the center or the left side of the Taskbar. Sadly, you can not change the Taskbar's position to the left, right, or top of the screen.

You can change the same Start menu features in Windows 11 that you could in Windows 10. The only thing I found you cannot do is to change the Start menu's color. You can only change the color mode, light or dark.

All Start menu customizations can be found by going to Settings > Personalization. Here is a list of the features and areas on the Windows 11 Start menu.

The different features and areas of the Windows 11 Start menu

  • Search box - Type in the name of the app or file you are looking for.
  • Pinned apps - This is a collection of shortcuts to your favorite programs.
  • All apps - Here, you will find all of the shortcuts to all of the installed programs.
  • Recommended - This is a list of the most recently used files.
  • Folders - These are the shortcuts that you select to appear next to the Power button. You can choose which folders appear by going to Settings > Personalization > Start > Folders.

Here is a list of the folders you can have to appear next to the Power button.

  • Settings
  • File Explorer
  • Document
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Network
  • Personal folder

Windows 11 Power User Menu

The Power User menu appeared in Windows 8.1 to appease users that were upset with the replacement of the Start menu with the Start screen. Windows 8 was a nightmare to navigate using the Start screen, and the Power User menu made it a little easier.

The Power User menu has shortcuts to the most used features inside of Windows, including System, Settings, and Computer Management. And the cool thing is that you can bring up the Power User menu in two (2) different ways.

  • Right-click on the Start button Windows logo


  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X at the same time.

Windows 11 Power User menu

If you use your keyboard to bring up the Power User menu, the different programs and features will have a letter underlined in their name. If you press the corresponding letter, that program or feature opens.

Windows 11 Windows Logo keyboard shortcuts

Back when the Start menu was introduced, Microsoft also added a feature to help navigate Windows using the keyboard. That Windows logo key on your keyboard can do a whole lot more than just bring up the Start menu.

Windows 11 Windows logo keyboard shortcuts

The Windows logo key can open more than fifty (50) Windows 11 programs and features when used with other keys. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Windows logo key Windows logo + E opens File Explorer
  • Windows logo key Windows logo + R opens the Run dialog box
  • Windows logo key Windows logo + X opens the Power User menu

What makes these Windows logo keyboard shortcuts special to me is that you can use only your left hand to use them. That way, I can keep my right hand on my mouse. Follow the link below for a complete list of the Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11 (it opens in a new window).

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11

Everything you wanted to know about Windows 10 shortcuts

When it comes to using a Windows-based computer, accessing programs, folders, and files quickly is essential for productivity. This is where shortcuts come in handy. Let's take a closer look at the different types of shortcuts you can have on your Windows 10 computer.

Everything you wanted to know about Windows 10 shortcuts

Before we proceed any further, let's take a look at the history of shortcuts in Windows. All three types of shortcuts I will be discussing in this article were introduced in 1995 with the release of Windows 95.

Windows 95 had a new graphical user interface called Windows Explorer (now named File Explorer). When you hear File Explorer, you probably think of the file manager program you navigate to find your documents, pictures, and music. And you would be right.

But File Explorer is also responsible for displaying the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Desktop. All of the shortcuts I will be discussing are directly related to File Explorer.

Geek Tip: If you ever start Windows 10 and get to a black screen with just a white cursor arrow, that is a sign that File Explorer did not start. You can manually start File Explorer and here is how to do it.

How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

The different types of Windows 10 shortcuts

Now, there are three (3) kinds of shortcuts in Windows 10;

  • File - which contains a link to a program, file, or folder.
  • Internet - which contains a link to a file or website on the Internet.
  • Keyboard - which is when you press two (2) or more keys on the keyboard simultaneously.

The first two types of shortcuts (File and Internet) are small files that contain a link to a specific file, folder, or website. You can spot one of these types of shortcuts by the curled arrow overlay in the lower left-hand corner of the shortcut's icon on the Desktop or File Explorer. Shortcuts on the Start Menu do not have the curled arrow.

The third type of shortcut (Keyboard) is when you use a combination of keys on your keyboard to start a program or action. Usually, these are applications or actions that you use frequently. You can even add keyboard shortcuts to File shortcuts on your Desktop.

File and Internet shortcuts

As I said before, File and Internet shortcuts are just files with different extensions. File shortcuts have a .lnk extension, Internet shortcuts use .url extensions.

File and Internet shortcuts on the Desktop, Taskbar, and the Tiles section of the Start menu are relatively easy to create. To learn how to create File and Internet shortcuts quickly, check out the following article.

How to create a shortcut in Windows 10

Creating shortcuts in the Start menu's application list can be challenging only because the location where Start menu shortcuts is hidden by default. But if you want to learn more on how to customize the Start menu, check out the following article.

How to customize the Start menu in Windows 10

Keyboard shortcuts

When it comes right down to it, Keyboard shortcuts are the fastest way to open various programs and settings in Windows 10. You do not have to go hunting for a Desktop icon or open the Start menu.

Just by pressing two or more keys simultaneously on your keyboard, you can bring up File Explorer or the Run dialog box. Using the Clipboard, you can also copy, cut or paste text or images too.

There are so many Keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10 that I cannot list them all here. So the following articles cover almost all Keyboard shortcuts there are.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

General keyboard shortcuts

Accessibility keyboard shortcuts

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

How to use all of the Clipboard features in Windows 10

Now the only Keyboard shortcut not covered in all of these articles are the ones you create yourself. Desktop shortcuts can also have Keyboard shortcuts associated with them too.

When it comes to shortcut keys in Desktop shortcuts, you have to remember that you can use a combination of keys and numbers on the keyboard or just numbers on the numeric keypad.

The Desktop keyboard shortcut keys use a combination of three (3) keys, with the first two keys having to be Ctrl + Alt. Desktop numeric keypad shortcut keys are a single digit.

  1. Right-click on the Desktop shortcut you want to modify and select Properties from the context menu that appears.
    The properties form of a Desktop shortcut
  2. Left-click on the Shortcut tab and left-click on the Shortcut key field.
    Keys that can be used for Desktop shortcuts
  3. Press the desired key you want to associate with the Desktop shortcut. Remember that any key you press on the keyboard will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to the key you pressed. Numeric keys have Num before the actual number key.

See the video below for more details.

Navigating Windows 10

Updated June 4, 2020

It seems nowadays everyone is looking for ways to get things done quicker. The same holds for your computer. The faster you can open a program or document, the better. So here are my favorite tips for navigating Windows 10.

Navigating Windows 10

Since I do computer repair for a living, I've had to find ways to navigate Windows' different versions. With Windows 10, Microsoft keeps some of the cooler features while adding some new ones. And they even brought back one feature from previous versions. Let's take a look at my favorite ways to get around inside of Windows 10.

Power User menu

This little pop-up menu is a fast way to find some of the core features inside of Windows 10. It first appeared in Windows 8 to supplement the loss of the Start Menu. It never got the publicity it deserved, and only real geeks knew it existed. My customers are still amazed the first time I use it in front of them.

Lucky for us, Microsoft decided to keep the Power Users menu in Windows 10. It is still the fastest way to get to features like the Apps and Features, Network Connections, and Computer Management. Here's how to display the Power User menu in Windows 10.

Windows 10 Power User menu

There are two (2) ways of displaying the Power User menu in Windows 10: Mouse or Keyboard.

Using your mouse to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu

Using your keyboard to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X

If you use the keyboard to bring up the Power User menu, you'll find that the programs/features listed have a single letter in their name underlined. These are also keyboard shortcuts to that particular program/feature. Here's a link to the complete list of the Power User menu keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10.

Power User menu keyboard shortcuts

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Here's is another handy feature that nobody knows about, the Windows logo key. I have customers ask me, "What does that key with the Windows logo do?". Well, its primary use is to bring up the Start Menu, but it does more. Allot more.

The Windows logo key was introduced over twenty-five (25) years ago alongside Windows 95 and the new Start Menu. There were only a handful of Windows logo key shortcuts at that time, and you had to purchase a Windows 95 compatible keyboard to use them. Now you can't find a Windows-compatible keyboard without it.

There are now close to forty (40) Windows logo key shortcuts in Windows 10. Once you try them out, you'll wonder how you lived without for so long. Here's a link to the complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Shortcut keys in Windows 10

Here is one of those 'old school' features that I love to use. Did you know that you can open almost any shortcut with just your keyboard? By simply editing a shortcut, you open it with a combination of three (3) keys.

Now, if you have used Windows for a while, you know what a shortcut is. And if not, no biggie. Here's how to create a shortcut in Windows 10.

Allot of people don't know that they can edit a shortcut and change how it works, including adding a keyboard shortcut to it. The keyboard shortcut for your shortcut needs to be a combination of three (3) keys, and the first two (2) keys have to be CTRL and ALT. The third key is your choice, but I try to use either the first letter of the program/file or a letter close to CTRL and ALT keys.

The shortcut key field inside of the properties a shortcut
The shortcut key field inside of the properties of a shortcut

How to add a keyboard shortcut to an existing shortcut

  1. Right-click on the shortcut you want to modify and from the context menu that appears select Properties.
  2. When the properties dialog box appears, make sure the Shortcut tab is selected.
  3. Go down to the Shortcut key field and left-click inside the area (the cursor will blink).
  4. Press the CTRL key and the key you want to be assigned to the shortcut simultaneously (Windows will automatically add the ALT).
  5. Left-click on Apply and you are done.

Start Menu

And last but not least is the Start Menu. After a brief disappearance in Windows 8, Microsoft decided to bring it back. It's now got a slightly different look and feel, but it still does what it is supposed to do: Navigate.

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