Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.

A Shortcut for Switching Focus

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 6, 2015)

5

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 an Excel tip (it is a Windows tip), it is a tip that can come in handy for those Excel users who only want (or need) to use the keyboard.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10784) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Applying Range Names to Formulas

If you define your named ranges after you create your formulas, you can have Excel update those formulas to reflect the newly ...

Discover More

Unique Date Displays

Need to print an elapsed date in a strange format? It's easier to do than may appear at first glance. Here's a discussion on ...

Discover More

Filling a Range of Cells with Values

When writing a macro, you may want to fill a range of cells with different values. The easiest way to do this is to use ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Finding the Number of Significant Digits

When looking at a number, you may wonder how many significant digits it contains. The answer is not always an easy one, ...

Discover More

Inserting the User's Name in a Cell

Need to understand who is using a particular workbook? There are a number of ways you can find out, as discussed in this tip.

Discover More

Dividing the Screen Unevenly between Two Workbooks

When working with multiple workbooks, you'll typically want to resize the workbook windows so you can see the data from each ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 3?

2015-06-10 09:28:22

Cyril Stevens

Very nice, thank you!


2015-06-08 09:38:50

JIll

What a great hot key tip! I use hot keys all the time, but didn't know about this one. I shall use it often!


2015-06-08 08:45:08

Jennifer Thomas

Another handy tip along these lines is that you can hold down the windows key as you repeatedly press tab -- if you have an aeropeek-enabled theme for Windows, this shows a nice preview of each open window (release all keys to focus the window in front).

It's similar to holding down the Alt key as you press tab to see a gallery of window thumbnails, but this is a prettier and more detailed preview - rather Macintosh-y, IMHO.


2015-06-06 08:27:43

Sarma

Yes, this is a timesaver indeed.


2015-06-06 07:25:15

Elliot Penna

What a great timesaver tip. THANK YOU!


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.