Windows Server 2012 R2 Keyboard Shortcuts for the Server Administrator

Windows Server 2012, and immediately Windows Server 2012 R2, have added a huge variety show of capabilities to the Windows Server operating system. In my opinion it ‘s a must-have upgrade. But like the first gear time I encountered the Windows 2000 Server interface after years of working with Windows NT, the new UI can be pretty disorienting. We got reasonably efficient at maneuvering through the Windows 2000-style interface ; but where did everything go now ? ( I ‘ve already given my public opinion about the decision to use the touch-centric Modern interface, on a server. ) have with Windows 8 helps a little, but the tasks you perform as a server admin are very different from the actions you take as a node .
here ‘s my “ Where ‘d it go ? ” number of how to run administrative tasks in Windows Server 2012 and R2, based on where they were in Windows Server 2008 and earlier. I have n’t included every possible command ; I figure once you know how to quickly get down the chief roads of the UI, the english streets will be a snap. For each, I ‘ve given several methods, by and large with the fastest way first—it ‘s all about the speed, no ? tip : Using keyboard shortcuts is normally the fastest, and it gives you extra nerd points when your colleagues are looking over your shoulder. ( Speaking of debauched, if you want to cursorily find something in this article, precisely do a Ctl+F on your browser to trigger the “ find on page ” feature of speech and enter the condition you ‘re looking for. )
Since most of the clock time you ‘ll be accessing a waiter cabinet through Remote Desktop, it ‘s significant to set your RDP session to send keyboard commands while windowed ( not just full screen ) for these commands to work. See “ An Essential First Step ” in my article “ Getting approximately in Windows Server 2012, Part 1 “ for details on how to configure this.

I ‘m certain it will be nobelium surprise to seasoned server administrators that many of these UI sequences use keyboard shortcuts rather of the modern interface. They do make extensive manipulation of the Windows key ( “ winkey ” in my shorthand ). amazingly, the new search ability from the Start filmdom makes some commands faster in Windows Server 2012 and R2 than its predecessors .
Words or control sequences on the keyboard are highlighted. For exercise, Winkey, cmd means to hit the Windows key and insert “ cmd ” ; it besides implies that you press embark at the end of each sequence—if you ca n’t figure out when to press Enter, you credibly should n’t be reading this article .

Essential Tasks

substantive tasks are the ones you always seem to head straight to when you log on to a server cabinet, whether it ‘s digging approximately on the waiter with Explorer or running a command-line diagnostic in a command motivate .
Start screen

  • Winkey
  • Winkey+C, select Start


  • Winkey. .. and just start typing! This will trigger Search in the upper right corner, and real-time results will appear below it.
  • Winkey+R may be better for complex run commands, and it will run with admin privileges.
  • Winkey+X, r (Run)

Command prompt

  • Winkey+X, a (i.e., Command Prompt (Admin)). You could use Winkey+X, c to launch command prompt with normal privileges, but most admins won’t want to take the trouble.
  • Winkey, cmd

Windows Explorer
If you do n’t already have it pasted to the Start screen or to the taskbar, you should .

  • Winkey+X, e (File Explorer—note the name change)
  • Winkey, explorer.exe (You might have to type the “.exe” to differentiate between File Explorer and Internet Explorer.)

Network adapter settings
These include IP addresses and DNS client settings .

  • Winkey+X, w (Network Connections)


  • Winkey, powershell (This works the same from a command prompt, although you won’t get the pretty blue. Or select it from the Start screen.)

Whole System

whole System commands do just that : they affect the entire server .
Shut down/restart

  • Alt+F4 with focus on the desktop, select action
  • Ctl+Alt+Del, select Power button in the lower right corner
  • Winkey+C, Settings, Power

Lock console

  • From an RDP session: Ctl+Alt+End, Enter
  • At the physical console: Ctl+Alt+Del, Enter (same as it’s always been)
  • Winkey, click on account name in upper right corner, select Lock

Date/time/time zone

  • Right-click on time in the system tray, select Adjust Date/Time
  • Winkey, timedate.cpl WinKey+P, Set the Time and Date

Power Options

  • Winkey+X, o (Power Options)
  • Note that you likely won’t find the power icon in the system tray on a server.

Task Manager

  • Winkey+X, t (Task Manager)
  • Ctl+Alt+Del, select Task Manager
  • Winkey, taskmgr

Control Panel Tasks

Control Panel applets control the configuration and report on the waiter, including what applications are installed on it .
Launching Control Panel itself

  • Winkey+X, p (Control Panel)
  • Winkey, Control
  • From command prompt or Powershell, control.exe

Computer Management

  • Winkey+X, g (Computer Management)

Device Manager

  • Winkey+X, m (Device Manager)
  • Winkey, devmgmt.msc

Disk Management

  • Winkey+X, k (Disk Management)
  • Winkey, diskmgmt.msc

Event Viewer

  • Winkey+X, v (Event Viewer)
  • Winkey, eventvwr

These commands include world join, computer appoint, description, startup/recovery, environment variables, Remote Desktop configuration, and energizing .

  • Winkey+X, y (System)

Programs and Features ( including Windows features )

  • Winkey+X, f (Programs and Features)
  • Winkey, appwiz.cpl
  • You can also add or remove Windows features from this dialog; it will launch Server Manager and the Add/Remove Features wizard.

Windows Firewall

  • Winkey, firewall.cpl (You must type the “.cpl”; otherwise, you’ll get Firewall with Advanced Security.)

Windows Update

  • Winkey+X, y (System), select Windows Update
  • From command prompt or Powershell, control/name microsoft.windowsupdate

Administrative Tools

In contrast to Control Panel utilities, practically all of the administrative tools you ‘ll ever use on a Windows Server 2012/R2 server are in the Tools Menu of Server Manager. Microsoft has been strongly pushing the use of Server Manager, so it ‘s become very full-featured. If you do n’t see an administrative tool you ‘re looking for in this list, look in Server Manager ‘s Tools menu. here ‘s how to launch many of the democratic ones, not available from the Power User ( Winkey+X ) menu, from a command motivate, or through Powershell. notice : not all of these tools may be installed on your system .

  • Group Policy Management: gpmc.msc
  • Server Manager: servermanager
  • Services: services.msc
  • Windows Firewall with Advanced Security: wf
  • Active Directory Users & Computers: dsa.msc
  • Active Directory Administrative Center: dsac.exe
  • Active Directory Domains and Trusts: domain.msc
  • Active Directory Sites and Services: dssite.msc
  • Certificate Authority: certsrv.msc
  • DNS Management: dnsmgmt.msc
  • DHCP Management: dhcpmgmt.msc
  • Windows Server Backup: wbadmin


interestingly, most of the programs listed as accessories are essential, and the stick to apps are closely ampere significant .
Internet Explorer

  • Winkey, select the internet Explorer Icon (on the Start screen by default)
  • Winkey, iexplore

Remote Desktop Connection

  • Winkey, mstsc

Windows Powershell ISE

  • Winkey, powershell_ise

System Tools

These include assorted system utilities .
Disk Defragmenter

  • Winkey, dfrgui
  • Right-click on a drive letter in File Explorer, Properties, Tools, Optimize and Defragment.

Resource monitor

  • Get to Task Manager, choose the Performance tab, and select Open Resource Monitor at the bottom.
  • Winkey, resmon

Task Scheduler

  • Winkey, tasks

Startup Folder

In Windows Server 2008 R2 and early operating systems, you could drop an lotion or a shortcut into the Startup booklet and it would execute at logon time. That very visible option is gone in Windows Server 2012 and R2, but you can still get to it here .

  • Winkey, shell:startup or shell:common startup (to start up for all users)
  • You could also use the Sysinternals tool Autoruns.


Printers have gotten much harder to find in the Windows Server 2012 and R2 UI. It ‘s a very trouble on the customer goal .

  • Winkey+X, p (Control Panel), Hardware/View Devices and Printers


If you are n’t going directly to the adapter settings ( shown earlier in Essential Tasks ), you ‘ll want to use the Network and Sharing Center .
Network and Sharing Center

  • Right-click on network icon in system tray (same as before).
  • Adapter settings are identical to legacy UI from here.

As you can see from the list, you can get a set done quickly by becoming familiar with the Power Users menu ( Winkey+X ) ; if you memorize the two-letter keyboard shortcuts associated with this menu you ‘ll be able to launch apps so quickly your coworkers will think it ‘s magic. In addition, memorizing many of the command-line executables for the tools will get you to most of them promptly ; equitable hit the Windows key and start to type. This is only adjustment ; Microsoft wants us all to use PowerShell for everything, so starting the GUI tools by instruction line seems like a dependable first base measure .
Do you have any other good tips for working with the “ modern ” UI ?
Sean writes about cloud identity, Microsoft hybrid identity, and whatever else he finds interesting at his web log on Enterprise Identity and on Twitter at @ shorinsean .

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