So I downloaded and installed Windows 8. I'm very impressed, except for one thing. I don't have touch, and I have this running in a virtual machine. How do I exit one of these full screen Modern UI apps using just a mouse and a keyboard? Right now my only method to exit one of these guys is to send Ctrl+Alt+Del to the machine. I'm sure that's not the right way... anyone figured this out?

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  • @Nick Josevski: Is that true? Mar 3, 2012 at 0:46
  • @JavaAndCSharp just a joke ;) Mar 8, 2012 at 1:54
  • Metro apps and suspending: They happily eat hundreds of private memory with that magic "suspend". It's like iOS. You are not supposed to close anything, but you will damn sure run out of memory in no time like that.
    – Apache
    Jul 12, 2012 at 11:07
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    @Shiki they close themselves if there is memory pressure Nov 7, 2012 at 7:22

10 Answers 10

  • Use the keyboard. Alt + F4 still works like a charm
  • Use the top edge:
    1. Move your mouse or finger to the top of the screen {except for the top left extreme and top right extreme}
    2. Click/tap and drag to bottom of screen. The app will close when you get to the bottom.
  • Use the left edge: Bring the cursor in the very top (or bottom) left corner of the screen then move the mouse against the border up (or down). Now you can:
    • Middle click any app to close it.
    • Right click any app to show the contextual menu, with Close being an option.
    • Drag any app left onto the current app, then without releasing bring it to the bottom to close it

Please note that in Windows 8, in some cases apps are not supposed to be closed. This is part of the general Modern UI experience; however, because of popular demand, Microsoft did add this feature in the consumer preview.

See Microsoft's official video on mouse usage in Windows 8 here. Also a good video to watch is the touch video.

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    Drag the mouse from the top to the bottom of the screen? That's pretty awful!
    – UpTheCreek
    Jun 13, 2012 at 13:56
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    @UpTheCreek: Why? Jun 13, 2012 at 19:34
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    @JavaAndCSharp Why? Becuase its not at all natural to drag the mouse pointer from one side of the screen to another! Is that supposed to be convenient?
    – UpTheCreek
    Jun 13, 2012 at 20:13
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    ...erm, dragging a mouse all around the screen to do Basic functions is an incredibly inefficient and a waste of time. I understand a touchscreen might be better, but not using a mouse.
    – Moab
    Aug 29, 2012 at 14:13
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    It's not that it's inconvenient....it's that it's UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY UNINTUITIVE that that is what closes an app! Did Microsoft not hire a single UX engineer?
    – James
    Feb 21, 2013 at 7:12

Press the Windows Key, it's like a 'home' button.

It looks like it's you're not supposed to 'close' apps in a traditional sense, and should be in a 'suspended' mode instead this is achieved by just going and doing something else like going back to the home screen...

keyboard - windows key

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    This. Treat it more like a smartphone - when was the last time you manually exited an app in Android or iOS? You don't, you just hit the home screen and it suspends the app. (You can even see Win8 doing this - in Task Manager, non-active Metro apps show as 'Suspended'.)
    – Shinrai
    Sep 14, 2011 at 16:03
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    It's driving me nuts when they show up in the alt-tab though.. Are they really ready to make alt-tab useless when running lots of metro apps? Sep 14, 2011 at 17:13
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    @Richard - It does drive me nuts too, but this is their design philosophy. :/
    – Shinrai
    Sep 14, 2011 at 19:00
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    There are very good reasons to want an application closed (process no longer running), dodging the question is not an answer.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jun 30, 2012 at 23:43
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    @BenVoigt - At the time this was written, there was no way to close them - this was not dodging the question so much as it was the only reasonable answer. That functionality was not added until later builds.
    – Shinrai
    Aug 27, 2012 at 19:42

Here is an answer from someone at MS on this forum thread:

The idea is Modern UI Style apps are not closed. The system takes care of keeping the apps from consuming background resources automatically. You can examine the app lifetime information in the developer documentation if you'd like. [...] Alt+F4 only works in the dev tools integrated builds as a developer feature and is not a general mechanism.


Nick Josevski gave the answer if you just want to go back to the Start screen, but, if you want to actually close it then the Ctrl + Alt + Del method works as you said. The best approach I've seen however is the good old Alt + F4 combination, which still seems to close applications.

I would have thought there is a better way, but I haven't found it yet.

(Little notice - When I first fired up Windows 8, I had problems closing applications and did try Alt + F4 to get out the plane application with no luck. However, it appears to be working now. I am not sure what was going on earlier and can only guess it was gremlins in the preview!)

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    @LoneCoder's answer suggests Alt-F4 will be removed in the final release, so don't get too used to it.
    – Daniel Beck
    Sep 17, 2011 at 12:21
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    @Daniel Beck alt-f4 works in RTM. Aug 27, 2012 at 0:38

The short answer is that you're supposed to leave Modern UI applications as suspended. If you need to free up memory or manage to write something that kills the system, you can kill Modern UI apps using the task manager. I'd assume that they're going to tidy up the behaviour of alt-tab at some point, but for now it's not that nice.

If you're accessing over "mstsc" RDP(Remote Desktop Protocol) and want to go to the start screen but can't hit the start button on your keyboard directly, then Alt+Home might help you out.

Similarly, if you want to kill the application/process use Ctrl+Alt+Delete, then Ctrl+Alt+End should send that combination through.


Starting with Windows 8 Consumer Preivew, you can close Modern UI applications by click and dragging from the top of the application all the way down to the bottom of the screen. The touch gesture works the same way.


If you are running Windows 8 in a virtual machine and the host intercepts the Windows key, try carefully moving your mouse to the bottom-left corner of the Windows 8 screen. The Start button should appear.


I just found a more elegant solution than three-fingered salute... Win+R, then click on the Start icon (Windows icon, bottom left). But I'm ready to use the actual method.

  • Win +r did not bring up the Start Icon for me. (Hovering the mouse works irrespective of Win +r)
    – Guy Thomas
    Mar 27, 2012 at 12:32
  • This was in the developer preview. I think some changes have been made for the consumer preview. Mar 27, 2012 at 12:51
  • For me, Win-r asks to run command line. So when I could not exit out of PDF viewer, it flipped over the view back to where I was on the desktop and opened command.exe. So all I had to do was abort that, which was easier than having to go to start and abort some other thing I touched with fat fingers. thank you! Mar 31, 2013 at 20:05

Win + E also works. It doesn't close the Metro app but it does get you back to the Windows Desktop. Also useful for getting to the desktop from the Start Screen.

  • Didn't you mean Win+D, to show the desktop? Win+E opens Windows Explorer.
    – Arjan
    Jun 9, 2014 at 11:13
  • In this context I was referring to the UI - the Windows Desktop as opposed to Windows Metro.
    – Underverse
    Jun 18, 2014 at 6:18
  • I tested on Windows 8.1, and Win+E gets me a new Windows Explorer instance. Opening one program to close another seems a bit, er, weird?
    – Arjan
    Jun 28, 2014 at 8:48
  • Welcome to Windows 8. The whole experience is weird for me. For years I have closed windows by moving the mouse to the top right hand corner and clicking - can't do that now. It is very frustrating to have to think before doing things I have been doing the same way for years.
    – Underverse
    Jun 29, 2014 at 2:09
  • ...but then why not at least use Win+D rather than Win+E...? (Luckily for the both of us, Windows 8 doesn't need Metro. First thing I do after logging in to a Windows 8 machine, is pressing Win+D. Besides that, all it takes is being careful to install desktop versions of software. Annoying, yes.)
    – Arjan
    Jun 29, 2014 at 12:44

Though this 2012 question asks about avoiding Touch, now nearing 2015, it's the first hit on Google when asking how to exit the full screen Modern app and return to normal classic view.

After using my Surface Pro (2?) intermittently for about a year, I have finally realized that the specs for moving from Full screen (modern) to Windowed (classic) desktop mode must have been vague. Different apps act in very different ways, that's the maddening part.

Here are my findings, for pure TOUCH navigation - no keyboard, no mouse.

A. Starting from FullScreen/Metro Mode.

1.To go from FullScreen/Metro mode to Hidden.

How: Sweep from the Right-inward to see the Charms and touch the Start button.
Example: All fullscreen apps seem to have this ability, eg OneDrive, WindowsStore, Kindle.
Why: Switching to the Start tiles page moves your Metro/Fullscreen app from the currently viewed state into the hidden but 'turned-on' list of apps.
Tip: All Hidden but 'On' apps can be seen along the left edge by doing: Swipe in and back out from left edge.

2.To go from FullScreen/Metro mode to Hidden: Method 2.

Note: This method works intermittently depending on your prior state and the app in question.


  • Open a Desktop app,
  • then Open Windows Store Metro,
  • then Swipe from the left inwards.

Result: Desktop will reappear because Store respects Desktop as a valid prior state and you had no Metro prior states in the history.
Some apps, like Kindle, do not respect the Desktop as a state and will not swipe back to it.


  • Open a Metro app,
  • hide it with (A1),
  • and then open a second Metro app.
  • Swipe from the left inwards.

The last previously hidden Metro app will appear in focus.

3.To go from FullScreen/Metro mode to Windowed/Classic mode.

How: Touch to 'click' the top of the app to get the app's mini navbar which will appear on the bottom of the screen. Touch the 'X' button.
Example: Kindle app for Windows 8.
Note: This is not possible in the GUI -unless- the app is has dual classic/metro functionality (Kindle). It is possible for an app to be pure Metro, and incapable of going windowed (Windows Maps). Similarly, pure Classic apps cannot go into windowed mode (Firefox).

4.To go from FullScreen/Metro mode to Turned off.

How: First go to classic mode, then click the 'X' as has been normal in many generations of Windows OS.
Example; Kindle app for Windows 8.
Note: This is not possible in the GUI -unless- the app is has dual classic/metro functionality, as described in (A3).

B. Starting from Windowed/Classic mode.

1.To go from Windowed/Classic screen mode to FullScreen/Metro mode.

How: Click the 'X' on the internal navbar, which is positioned inside the regular classic window which has a different 'X'.
Example: Kindle app for Windows 8.
Note.1: This is not possible in the GUI -unless- the app is has dual classic/metro functionality, as described in (A3).
Note.2: This is highly counterintuitive since in Windows XP an 'X' button will close an app - not do the reverse and make it bigger or maximize.
Note.3: Since Kindle is the only dual classic/metro app that I tested, there may be different button choices for this feature on other apps.

2.To go from Windowed/Classic screen mode to Hidden.

How: Use the normal Windows XP gesture: Touch the minus sign in the top right nav bar of the app.

3.To go from Windowed/Classic screen mode to Turned off.

How: Use the normal Windows XP gesture: Touch the 'X' button on the app's top navbar.
Note: As noted above, Microsoft's own Metro apps are generally designed not to 'close' and not to 'minimize'.

4.To go from Windowed/Classic screen mode to Full screen with a Window navbar.

How: Use the normal Windows XP gesture: Touch the middle open square button on the app's top navbar.

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