Tip: Using the keyboard to access useful functionality in Windows Virtual PC

When you use a Virtual Machine (VM) created using Windows® Virtual PC (WVPC), following keyboard shortcuts would be very useful to make life simple without using the mouse:

Press this key

To do this

CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow

Release the mouse from the virtual machine’s (VM) window (required only when the integration features are not installed or are disabled). You can also use this shortcut to release the keyboard and move focus to the toolbar on the VM’s window.


Send the CTRL+ALT+DEL command to a VM. This shortcut is also available while running virtual applications, when the focus is on such an application.

Windows logo key +UP Arrow

Switch from window mode to full-screen mode.


Switch from full-screen mode to window mode.


Close a VM.

CTRL+ALT +Plus key

Capture a print screen of the VM display output.

CTRL+ALT +Minus key

Capture a print screen of the window in the VM that has focus.

TAB + Right Arrow

Move to the Help menu from other menus on the VM toolbar. Before you can use this shortcut, you would need to press CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow to bring the focus on to the VM’s window.

TAB + Left arrow

Move from the Help menu to other menus on the VM toolbar. Before you can use this shortcut, you would need to press CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow to bring the focus on to the VM’s window.


Open the USB menu of the VM window. Before you can use this shortcut, you would need to press CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow to bring the focus on to the VM’s window.


Make the VM to go to a Sleep state. Before you can use this shortcut, you would need to press CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow to bring the focus on to the VM’s window.


Wake up the VM from sleep state.

Check out Windows XP Mode RTM Build today, and let us know what you think, either via the comments section here, or sharing your feedback on the WVPC and Windows XP Mode Forum on Technet here.

Rahul Razdan

Program Manager

Microsoft Virtualization Team

Comments (16)
  1. vinodata says:

    @ Dominique Gratpain

    1) Windows + DOWN arrow is the key used by Windows7, hence if you have a Win7 guest it will be stuck. You can change the setting for VM for keyboard and always give it to Host

    2) Tools menu is removed in fullscreen so that no other window comes on top of working VM

  2. anonymous says:

    Can’t try. Machine got no virtualization support.

  3. Dominique Gratpain says:

    Two remarks :

    1) Switch from window mode to full-screen mode :  Windows logo key +UP Arrow

    Ok it is good but :

    Switch from full-screen mode to window mode : CTRL+ALT+PAUSE BREAK

    Why not to use :  Windows logo key +DOWN Arrow

    Perharps  Windows logo key +DOWN Arrow  is already use by another purpose but in this case don’t use the  Windows logo key +UP Arrow for the first function.

    Sometimes (and even often) I think Microsoft’ guys don’t know ergonomic and you don’t think to users and to people who must explain to users.

    2) in Windows mode, the menu have : Action – USB – Tools – Ctrl+Alt+Suppr

    in full screen mode, the menu have : Action – USB – Ctrl+Alt+Suppr

    Where is the choose  Tools ?

  4. Dominique says:

    I forgot to precise that I use Win7 Pro with Windows XP mode (with Virtual PC as installed with the download of Windows XP mode).

    The two problems I wrote are true when I am in Windows XP mode.

    1) on the desktop in full-screen mode, the focus change between icons with Windows logo key +DOWN Arrow.

    To go on Windows mode, I need to do CTRL+ALT+PAUSE BREAK.

    Sorry but I think that it is not ergonomic.

    2) in full screen there is already a pinned toolbar on top with Action – USB – Ctrl+Alt+Suppr  but without Tools.

    There is no interest to remove here Tools. Yesterday I was in full screen and I need to use Tools then I spend many times to find it.

  5. Robert P says:

    How do I access the start menu using the keyboard from within a windowed Windows Virtual PC VM? Citrix sure can do this when connected remotely to a Citrix terminal server as well as VMware Workstation.

  6. Ismail Dakrory says:

    I need to change the ( CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow ) to release the keyboard and mouse .

    It’s too important to me because it conflicts with another program installed in the virtual machine, and every time I press the shortcut to achieve certain process ,the virtual machine releases my keyboard and mouse , so it’s impossible to me to achieve my gaol .

    any way to do that ?

  7. IL says:

    Moreover, why F1 key pressed in guest Windows OS calls out both help for guest OS application and Windows Virtual PC?

  8. Mark Wilson says:

    I have the same question as Ismail Dakrory – Ctrl-Alt-Left arrow turns the screen 90 degrees left if you have Intel graphics… is there any way to change this key combination?

  9. SR says:

    @Mark Wilson:

    You can disable or change the Ctrl-Alt-Left shortcut in the display driver settings so it won't conflict with Virtual PC any more.

  10. pseudo555 says:

    And if i don't want to change it in the grahic driver ?

    Seriously, vpc2007 was more customizable… that's a shame.

  11. Hosed says:

    How can I change the ctrl-alt-leftarrow shortcut to something else? I need those for another program which I can't change and it conflicts.

  12. Tenebrous says:

    But… CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW rotates the screen.

  13. M"SysAdmin"D says:

    Has anyone figured out how to escape a vm when CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW rotates the screen and doesn't actually escape?

  14. prashanth says:

    for vm player CNTRL+ALT+SHIFT+ARROW KEY to escape from vmware


  15. ikke1919 says:

    I don't have a pause/break key on my laptop.

    How do i switch to window mode?

  16. No Pause/Breks key ? says:

    Really all laptops have it, but to get it you have to press the Fn key in combination with another key marked on your laptop keyboard.

    Anyway these accelerators should be tunable, like in Virtual Box (which just requires a single key to get to the host commands.

    The default Host key in Virtual box is just the Left CTRL key, but you may also use the Application/Menu key, which is rarely absolutely needed in all Windows apps (all versions of Windows) simply because many keyboards don't have this key.

    This is enough to allow all other accelerators : Host key+F for full screen, Host key alone to free the mouse from the window (but not needed if you have activated mouse integration which allows the mouse to "fly" in/out from/to the guest auotmatically.

    Microsoft sill needs to learn a lot about what other hypervisors are allowing (with more performance, better integration, more tunable capabilities, 2D and 3D acceleration, support of RDP for remote connection to the VM, configurable number of virtual processors, and additional services like automated backups and replication of live VMs, and FAST snapshots for creating diffs…).

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