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Focus the taskbar and switch windows with the arrow keys in Windows 7

This week, we're running a series of keyboard tips and tricks that help you make the most of Windows 7. To see the previous tips, check our Tips index.

The taskbar seems like it was meant to be used with the mouse only; it's a very visual thing, especially in Windows 7. But it turns out there's a way to "switch" to the taskbar and then work with it using the keyboard only! Hit Win+T to focus the taskbar, and then use the arrow keys to cycle between the icons. Whenever the focus switches to an application that's currently running, its Aero Peek pane will show up. To start an application that isn't running, press Enter.

What's nice about this system is that it takes your taskbar's orientations into account: for a vertical taskbar, Up/Down will switch windows, while Left/Right would activate the Aero Peek thumbnail pane; for a horizontal one, Left/Right would switch windows and Up/Down would activate the thumbnail pane.

This little nugget concludes our weekly Keyboard Tips series. I hope you've enjoyed it, and maybe even learned some new tricks! Check out Sebastian's list for a comprehensive rundown of many other hotkeys.

[Image credit: orangeacid]

Tags: education, hotkey, keyboard, series, shortcuts, tips, windows, windows 7, Windows7