How-To Geek

Built-in Quick Launch Hotkeys in Windows Vista

Windows Vista lets you use hotkeys for the first 10 items in the Quick Launch menu. These hotkeys are assigned automatically, so there’s no need to do anything other than understand how they work.

For each icon in the Quick launch bar, the hotkey Win + number is assigned. These are assigned from left to right, 1-9 (and 0 for 10).

For instance, in the following screenshot, you’ll see that the first 4 icons are:

  1. Show Desktop
  2. Flip3D
  3. Windows Media Player
  4. Internet Explorer

That would mean the automatic hotkeys are assigned like this:

  1. Win + 1   – Show Desktop: 
  2. Win + 2   – Flip3D: 
  3. Win + 3   – Windows Media Player
  4. Win + 4   – Internet Explorer

Seems kinda a waste to use Show Desktop and Flip3D when you can use Win+Tab and Win + D for those anyway. Maybe I’ll move them…

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 01/13/07

Comments (38)

  1. O_o

    I assume Show Desktop and Flip3D are mostly there for tablet PC, where it’s not always easy to use the key combos.

  2. CerebroJD

    Makes sense, for TabletPC users. Excellent point!

    Great tip! Once I’m running Vista full-time, I’ll be able to put these to use. :)

  3. alias

    to use vista flip3d u can do:Win + Tab

  4. Greg

    you can arrange anything you want in there and the first thing in the list will work on Win+1 and so on.

  5. TxDot

    I use Win + n for switching desktops. I need to know how to turn this off. Any ideas?

  6. Marg Sue

    The image on my computer at work is sideways. What hotkey (a) got it to that point and (b) what hotkey will put it back and (c) can I disable that hotkey combination?

  7. P Howarth

    Marg Sue:

    The shortcut is something like CTRL,ALT and UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT arrow keys.

    I work in a school where the kids find it hilarious to turn the screen upside down for the next user…


  8. J.C.

    The Win + only does one thing you mentioned (3d flip) the others open programs – how do I control which programs to open – some open programs I almost never use

  9. Justine

    Thanks a million times for your post. My borther was playing a game on the laptop and suddenly the screen was turned upside down. The comination I have found useful is: CTRL+ALT+UP to restore my screen in the correct position. What means CTRL+ALT+DOWN made the whole mess!
    Thanks again,

  10. The Geek

    @Marg / Justine:

    I think that the problem is that those hotkeys to rotate the screen are assigned in your video card software (usually ATI on a laptop). You could disable those hotkeys by going into the ATI control panel, which would solve the problem.

  11. Alex Leonard

    Hi there,

    I’ve just bought a new laptop with Vista and I’m slowly going through tweaking everything I can. Your site’s been most helpful so far so I thought I’d quiz you about hotkeys…

    Ever since I dabbled with Emerge desktop on WinXP I’ve been a total hotkey afficianado. However, due to some applications acting strangely I left it behind and went back to the Windows shell. However I missed my hotkey combinations. So I found a wonderful little app called “HotKeyBind” which worked perfectly on WinXP. It allowed you to unregister the standard windows hot key combinations (which were much fewer in WinXP) and define your own.

    In Vista there are many new WIN + key combinations. HotKeyBind obviously hasn’t moved on to Vista yet as it only lists the WinXP hotkeys.

    So… my question is: is there any way to unregister or disable the standard windows hotkeys? I like having all my hot key combinations controlled in one place. The idea of having to go to various application shortcuts and go into properties and add a hotkey is somewhat infuriating.

    My usual hotkeys have been:
    WIN + X: Next workspace
    WIN + 2: Assign active window to next workspace
    WIN + Z: Previous workspace
    WIN + 1: Assign active window to previous workspace
    WIN + ALT + 1: Go to workspace 1
    WIN + ALT + 2: Go to workspace 2
    WIN + ALT + 3: Go to workspace 3
    WIN + ALT + 4: Go to workspace 4

    WIN + F: Firefox
    WIN + ALT + F: Filezilla
    WIN + T: Thunderbird (clashes now with cycle through taskbar)
    WIN + G: Google Desktop Search
    WIN + ALT + G: Photoshop
    WIN + CTRL + G: Illustrator
    WIN + E: Cubic Explorer
    WIN + ALT+ E: Windows Explorer
    WIN + CTRL + E: Internet Explorer
    WIN + W: WInamp
    WIN + Q: Shutdown
    WIN + S: Stylemaster
    WIN + R: Run
    WIN + ALT + R: Reason
    WIN + N: Notepad ++
    WIN + M: MozBackup
    WIN + V: ViceVersa
    WIN + C: Cubase

    That’s all that I can think of off the top of my head, but I think there are probably more. Quite a few of them are clashing with the new Vista WIN hotkeys and I don’t really want to try and work out alternatives as I am so accustomed to them now.

    Any thoughts?

  12. The Geek

    I’ve been using AutoHotkey to perform a lot of similar tasks.. you can usually override the built-in hotkeys with it.

  13. Alex Leonard

    Ah right.

    I’ve looked at AutoHotKey before, and I must admit I found myself a little confused. I think HotKeyBind is built using AutoHotKey, as is my favourite text replacement software – Texter from Adam Pash at Lifehacker.

    I’ve found with a small amount of adjustment I can get around the new windows hot keys without too much trouble – I’m just going to have to adjust my shortcuts on the desktop as well and get into some new habits!


  14. Elias

    I’ve been looking for those Hotkeys ever sense I got my new computer.

  15. cam

    So how would I disable the ctrl-alt-up screen flip thing on a laptop which runs on windows vista? I figured out how to do it on my home PC (with windows xp) but can’t figure it out with the new vista stuff.

  16. mohamed

    i found great the hotkey alt ctrl + arrow because with my laptop i could lay on my side in my bed and just read an e-book with the screen rotated at 90° and sleep whenever i want

  17. mandy

    Hiya … my sister is having problems with her laptop …its advent windows vista … on keys lkjuiop its semi numerical ( u know ) shes pressed sum buttons together and cant type using those keys anymore due to them now being numbers ive looked in the manuals and tried the usual hotkeys but nothing seems to work please could anybody help? ta .

  18. Richesin

    Hi. Love this site. Im new to computing; just got my laptop. What is WIN button everyone writes about for shortcuts?

  19. The Geek


    There should be a key on the keyboard with the Windows logo on it. It’s usually between the ctrl and alt keys on the left side of the keyboard.

  20. mandy

    My sister found the solution finaly thanks… the laptop had a blue functin key she pressed that along with alt n tab i think and it solved the number/letter semi-keys for anybody having the same problem its FN key.
    BTW hello Alex Leonard its Sandra’s sister.

  21. Alex Leonard

    @mandy: Sandra’s sister? Right now I can only think of one Sandra that I know – from Germany, has dreadlocks?

    Or am I being awful and forgetting huge chunks of my life?! (Entirely possible :)

  22. mandy

    Alex sorry what a small world…my sister has never had dreadlocks or lived in Germany but she did die her hair pillar box red and move to Glasgow once…still not the same person is it?
    Lol…sorry my mistake i should have known better the Alex Leonard i know is a psychologist and not as clever as you at computers her and my sister are best friends and both as equally blonde (again) as each other.Thank you for your reply though peace!

  23. Stefan

    One can use the PStart application to easely assign Hot Keys to an application:

  24. Alex Leonard

    @mandy Unfortunately I’m not unique by being Alex Leonard – there’s a Jazz Pianist in New York that stole my name as well!

    I’m definitely not a psychologist though, I can understand computers (sometimes) better than people.

  25. RON

    hi,i got a problem, i have a laptop all my icon are gone,i don’t delete them while am using internet Thanks

  26. Steve

    Does anyone know how to get Windows Vista Quick Launch menu to stop showing a description of the icons when I pause over them. I have tried doing it through the start menu properties, to no avail.

  27. Ike4636

    Hey i’m looking for a way to make hotkeys for windows vista such as a two-three key combonation for locking windows

  28. Della

    re: combo for locking – win+l (try first letters)

  29. Tim

    Right click on the icon you want the comment removed from and go to properties.
    then in the text box next to
    make it blank

  30. Bob

    Is there any way to pop in the screen saver with two or three keys (just like win+L for locking)


  31. wing-chun

    i would like to know that too bob

  32. walter shebib

    desktop settings icons are all arranged to the right of the screen. cannot find solution to put the icons in correct place .i am running vista home edition 32bit hp pavilion elite m9040n

  33. blacksuzume

    Okay, This probably is not the write place to ask BUT…I’m having massive issues with a game trainer. I’ve ran it with administrator priviliages and in compatability mode, and the screen pops up no worries BUT the hot keys wont work. They worked once for about 30 seconds but now nothing at all!!!

    It’s massive getting me angry and i cant work it out. What can i do to fix this?

  34. Matt

    Vista Didn’t have the 3DFlip . Microsoft made that for Windows 7. Which the hotkey is ctrl + tab.

  35. Matt

    I mean windows key + tab

  36. EmiEss

    I tried the ctrl+alt+down thing on my laptop, and it didn’t exactly do what I expected o-o I’m running on vista, and at first, it made everything huge, so when I went to fix the resolution, it was at -1x-1 and it said something about my graphics card not being up to date (just all of a sudden…) so I restarted my computer and everything LOOKED normal, but the resolution still says -1x-1 and I can’t change it, and now I can’t play games, and my screen savers don’t show up because something is apparently wrong with my video card? So, yeah.. is there any way to reverse this? o-o

  37. UsusIpse

    I am baffled by the sheer number of people that would actually want a hotkey to open an application. This feature is used by exactly ZERO developers and does nothing but get in the way of hotkeys that actually do things.
    Is there a need for a hotkey to open windows media player? Is waiting over 20 minutes for your OS to load a small price to pay for the time saving heroics of the Windows staff that bring you such streamlined genius as the Windows Media Player speedy action hot key? Many slobbering morons say no!
    For every minute I have wasted on just trying to navigate to the locating where you can turn off these useless features that some hack programmer sold to his overpaid boss that does nothing but fill an office between tee times, I should be able to throw a brick through one of the windows of the mentally challenged people that can talk seriously about the existence of something as retarded as a hot key to open your mail.
    I would like to personally thank everyone for helping hurtle the world toward dystopia. This is not quite as ignorant as phrases such as ‘friendly fire’, or ‘global warming’ but it sure is up there on the stupid scale. I would say it is on the scale of honking when you drive into someones driveway, or standing idle in doorways.
    So in summation. I can see that a person that uses a hot key to open up their hacked Outlook would need to be told that a doorway is not a good place to stand.

    Just about that amount of stupid……

  38. kay

    Sky screen is upside down. I have windows vista and control alt up button doesn’t fix it.HELP

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