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I realize that Windows Server 2012 (and Windows 8) removed the start menu button and replaced it with moving your mouse to the upper right corner of the screen. This works fine when the desktop is full screen. However, I access all my servers through windowed RDP connections (or through the Hyper-V console window) and in this case, the desktop is not full screen.

Therefore, in order to open the new "start" menu, I have to slowly move my mouse very carefully within the window to just a few pixels within top right corner of the window in order to open the menu. Also, because the session is windowed, the default hot keys (Windows + D, etc.) won't work. There has got to be an easier way. Has anyone else experienced this frustration?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Have you tried pressing Alt+Home?

As a general solution, you should consider changing your Remote Desktop settings to send Windows-key events to the remote server. From Microsoft:

  1. If the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box is not already open, open it by typing mstsc on the Start screen, and then pressing Enter.

  2. On the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, click Show Options to display connection setting tabs.

  3. In the Keyboard area of the Local Resources tab, select one of the following from the Apply Windows key combinations drop-down list.

    • To apply keyboard shortcuts to a full-screen Remote Desktop session, select Only when using the full screen.

    • To apply keyboard shortcuts to a Remote Desktop session that is contained within a window, select On the remote computer.

  4. When you are finished configuring other settings for your Remote Desktop session, click Connect to connect to the session and start working, or click Save on the General tab to save your connection settings as an RDP file that you can use for future connections.

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Do you know of a similar one for the "charms bar"? This one is also a pain to open when you want to shut down or reboot a 2012 server that you're connected to via RDP. – Chris McKeown Sep 26 '12 at 15:35
That works. Thanks. I still think it's dumb that we have to "hunt" for a solution to such a basic need of the server. – bigmac Sep 26 '12 at 15:37

Here's a Technet article with a list of key board shortcuts for Windows 2012.

The Start screen is the home of Windows apps. To open the Start screen, use one of these methods:

Press the Windows logo key. In a virtual machine, you can press Ctrl + Esc.

Hover the mouse cursor in the upper right corner of the screen, and then click Start.

On the desktop, hover the mouse cursor in the lower left corner of the screen, and click when the thumbnail of the Start screen appears.

And an MSDN blog post with the same for Windows 8.

Clearly, this is the much better/easier way than having a taskbar with a Start button on it, huh?

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No kidding. I will not install 3rd party apps on my servers but the lack of a single-stinkin'-button makes RDP-to-server or the often RDP-in-RDP-to-servers (double-hop-RDP). Keyboard shortcuts definitely don't work in double-hop scenario. – Bret Fisher Sep 26 '12 at 20:29
@Bret I also have to double-hop RDP so you might consider using the on-screen keyboard. I have shown how to access it in my answer. – Glenn Lawrence Jun 2 '15 at 0:57

The Windows Key (the one with the Windows logo) is needed for many shortcuts in Windows 2012 Server and Windows 8, but if you haven't configured your RDP client to pass it through, or you are double-hopping via an intermediate RDP session you can't use it. To get around this I configured my remote Windows 2012 server to always show the on-screen keyboard so I can mouse click the on-screen windows key and then type (or click) the appropriate combination key.

You can do this by going to the control panel, e.g. through the "charms panel" as described by the OP. I suggest selecting "small icons" for "View by" and then you can choose "Ease of Access Center" as shown here: Control panel Then select "Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard" as shown here: Select "Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard" Then check "Use On-screen Keyboard" as shown here: Select "Use On-screen Keyboard" The keyboard will then appear each time you log on.

And yes - you can still use your physical keyboard.

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