Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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 February 14, 2019)

9

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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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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Comments

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What is 9 + 7?

2020-09-14 03:46:21

Richard

@Roy
I only have 13 items on my desktop, and most of those are placed by default (IT), so when I use the Desktop shortcut on the toolbar, there are about 20 items, 6 of which have submenus (Recycle Bin, Libraries, OneDrive, etc). I don't use them very often, so was surprised to see the entire contents of the Recycle Bin on its submenu!
Registry is off limits for users in my company. Sounds like your desktop needs some organising. I add 'favourite' network locations to Quick Access in File Explorer.


2020-09-13 01:51:08

Roy

@Richard

I tried out what you mention. Looks kind of like an Internet Explorer Favorites list. (Bit of a nightmare therefore...)

The point being that every update that affects IE wipes out the Favorites list. More exactly, replaces it with an aplhabetized list so things that were right at the top are now 200 items down with the rest of the W's. Nightmare. But somewhere on the internet I found a site that told me the Registry key to copy out (when I had it re-organized for the last time) and to replace with the copy whenever this happened. Of course, any time I add to the Favorites and don't let the newbie hang at the bottom of the menu, I immediately copy out the registry key so how I organized it into the body of the list will be backed up.

Which leads to the thought that since this structuring looks similar, it might use the same "technology" and there might be a key you could do some research to locate. Someone on the internet might have the answer. Then you could back up this key like I do with IE's and whenver updating occurs that messes up or wipes out your list here, you could just put the key back in place to have your old friend back instead of manually reorganizing each time.

Maybe, but it kind of looks like it.


2019-02-18 05:15:37

Richard

I am aware that some users feel the need to store everything (or at least shortcuts to everything) on their desktop. I work in a business environment and like a clean desktop but there are some shortcuts that exist on all users' desktops. When accessing these shortcuts I like to keep open applications in place so I add a Desktop toolbar to my taskbar. This has the effect of opening a menu structure whose entries are the Desktop shortcuts.
The only disadvantage I have found is that Windows updates turn off the Desktop toolbar and I have to re-instate it from time to time.


2019-02-14 17:18:05

Chris C

And for those who prefer the opposite way to clear off clutter -by using the mouse, left click on the top of an open window (as if you are going to move a window to another location on the screen) and shake back and forth 2 or 3 times. This will clear away everything except the window you are holding. Shake again and everything comes back.


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!


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