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)


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. ...


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What is five more than 3?

2015-06-10 09:28:22

Cyril Stevens

Very nice, thank you!

2015-06-08 09:38:50


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


Yes, this is a timesaver indeed.

2015-06-06 07:25:15

Elliot Penna

What a great timesaver tip. THANK YOU!

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