Multitasking is the name of the game in almost any computer based career. Most of us discovered the Alt+Tab shortcut which switches you from one application in Windows to the next early on. [If you did not know – bonus tip!] But, one often under looked need is the ability to simply minimize all applications [and then return back to your last application if you so desire]. If you are using a mouse, you can always click on the Show Desktop icon [typically available in the very bottom right hand corner of your screen or next to your Start Menu, depending on your version of Windows].
However, you can also use the keyboard to switch focus if necessary. Assuming you have an enhanced Windows keyboard—the one with the Windows key next to the Alt keys—then the answer is simple. Here 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.
To return to your last application [without a mouse]:
Press Windows+D again and your focus is returned to the window in which you were previously working.
This tip is useful for any application used in a Windows desktop environment.
Please Note: This particular article is written with Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010 versions in mind. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you.