Access Keys 

An access key is an alphanumeric key—sometimes called a hot key or mnemonic—that users can use instead of a pointing device to activate interactive controls. With a few standard exceptions, an access key correlates to a designated character in a control label. For example, to open the File menu, for which the access key is typically F, the user would press ALT+F. Access keys are associated only with controls that have text labels.

Access keys differ from shortcut keys. Whereas access keys are a comprehensive means of navigating the entire UI, shortcut keys are a quick means for experienced users to perform common actions. Most access keys are associated with ALT, and most shortcut keys are associated with CTRL.

Information about access keys for a specific type of control is in the topic dedicated to that control.

A user often has to press ALT in order to see access key designations. To ensure that you address them throughout the development process, set your computer to persistently display access keys.

Design Note:
Persistently Displaying Access Keys

To persistently display access keys (Windows XP and later):

   1. In Control Panel, double-click Display.

   2. On the Appearance tab, click Effects.

   3. Clear the Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the Alt key check box.

See Also


Shortcut Keys