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Show Keyboard Shortcut Access Keys in Windows Vista

Since moving to Windows Vista, a lot of the keyboard shortcuts that I was used to just don’t work quite the same anymore. As a keyboard junkie, I find it imperative to learn the shortcut keys, so it’s good that there is a quick way to enable underlining of all shortcut keys.

When you underline the shortcut keys, it helps reinforce them in your mind every time you start to do any task that could be done with the keyboard instead. This is why I enable this option when I first start learning a new version of Windows.

To turn this on, open up Control Panel, and type the word “underline” into the search box. You’ll be presented with a link for “Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys”, which you’ll want to click.

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In the resulting screen, scroll down until you see “Make it easier to use keyboard shortcuts”, and check the box there.

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Now you’ll notice that the menu options have the access key underlined by default:

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The more keyboard shortcuts you learn, the easier it will be to get around in Vista.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/9/07

Comments (14)

  1. JC

    fantastic! I was really having a hard time figuring out where this was… thanks a lot for this post.

  2. Hugo

    Great tip man, same as JC; I was starting to feel frustrated and your comment solved it.

  3. CH

    Unlike the older explorers (in XP and 2000), the Vista Windows Explorer apparently does not automatically display in the right panel the content of a folder selected in the left panel folder navigation tree using the keyboard arrow keys. The selected folder content is displayed only when either the folder is clicked with the left mouse button, or the Enter key is hit after selecting the folder using the keyboard arrow keys. I found the older explorer behavior much more convenient when the content of the currently selected folder in the left panel was instantly displayed in the right panel. Is there a way to switch the behavior of the new explorer to mimic the old explorer?

  4. dUcA

    thanx! been looking for that option all over the place…

  5. Tim G

    Same as the others: Thanks. This just makes me ask why MS moved it from where it was in XP. Sure, you could argue that it “belongs” or “could belong” in its new Ease of Access home, but you could have ALSO left it in the old place, too. So people using XP for the last seven years could find the stupid thing….

  6. Valerie

    Thanks!

    Not only did I finally get to learn where this option was hiding, but I learned that cool search shortcut in the Control Panel. (It doesn’t work in Classic View, but I can use the navigation pane to switch to “Control Panel Home” temporarily, search, and find what I was looking for.)

  7. anonymous

    Thank you very much! Tried to find this info on Microsof’t support site with no luck at all.

  8. sazwqa

    Nice one ! useful

  9. an electron

    Yer the grooviest indy-vidual I’ve come across lately; that is indeed one of the best helps I’ve come across fer a long time.

  10. Marco

    Thank you for this tip, also works in Windows Seven

  11. 1jerry

    In my version of Win7 Home Premium this is changed by:
    1) Control Panel
    2) Ease of access center
    3) Change how your keyboard works
    4) Make keyboard easier
    5) scroll down to:
    6) Underline Shortcuts checkbox

  12. Jason O

    Want to change turn on for ALL users that use your PC/Terminal Server? It took me a while to figure out, but this is the best way.

    Go to command prompt and copy/paste both keys. Run them one at a time.

    reg add “HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop” /v UserPreferencesMask /t REG_BINARY /d B012018010000000 /f

    reg add “HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Preference” /v On /t REG_SZ /d 1 /f

  13. Jason O

    Have a Citrix server or just want to set this for all users on your PC? I have a fix. It took me a lot of testing, but this seems to be the best way. MS didn’t put this in Group Policy.

    Go to command prompt and copy/paste both keys. Run them one at a time.

    reg add “HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop” /v UserPreferencesMask /t REG_BINARY /d B012018010000000 /f

    reg add “HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Preference” /v On /t REG_SZ /d 1 /f

  14. iphoness

    Your shortcut keys are very helpful especially that my laptop’s keyboard is not that functional anymore…

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