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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Keyboards | Keyboard Key Groupings ]

Windows Keys

Over the last few years, 104-key "Windows keyboards" have replaced 101-key Enhanced keyboards as the de-facto standard amongst regular keyboards sold with PCs. These keyboards add three keys that are used to speed up Windows-related functions:

  • "Windows" Keys: Two keys, one to the left of the <Space Bar> and one to the right, are used to activate various functions within the operating system. If either is pressed by itself, it puts the task bar in the foreground and opens the Windows start menu. (Note that this is identical to the function performed by the key combination <Ctrl>+<Esc>). The Windows keys are also like modification keys, as they enable the following "short cut" actions through special key combinations. Note that these are mostly short-cuts for Windows features normally accessed through the Start menu:

Key Combination



Cycle through open applications on the task bar


Open the system properties panel


Start Windows Help


Open an instance of Windows Explorer, centered on "My Computer"


Open the "Find Files or Folders" dialog box


Open the "Find Computer" dialog box


Minimize all open windows


Undo the "minimize all" function (re-open all current windows)


Open the "Run" dialog box

  • Context Menu Key: This key, on the right-hand side of the keyboard, is used to simulate right-clicking the mouse at its current location. Under standard Windows functionality, this opens up a context menu of commands relevant to the Window or object the mouse was over at the time the key was pressed. Try it and you'll see what I mean. :^)

A Windows key and a context menu key
from a typical 104-key keyboard.

The extra Windows keys can be useful, but aren't exactly mandatory equipment. I personally almost never use them--not because they aren't useful, but because I am just not used to them, so I never think to press them! These are the scan codes for the Windows keys:

Key #


Make Code

Break Code


<Left Windows>

E0 5B



<Right Windows>

E0 5C




E0 5D


Next: Other Keys

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