Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 19, 2016)
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.
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 (3379) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: A Shortcut for Switching Focus.
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Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.