Where is the start key on a Dell laptop?

The start key is an important key found on keyboards for computers and laptops running Windows operating systems. In this article, we will specifically look at identifying and using the start key on Dell laptops.

The start key is usually labeled with the Windows logo and is used to open the Start menu in Windows. From the Start menu, you can quickly access programs, files, settings, and perform shutdown/restart operations. Understanding where the start key is located and how to use it is important for effectively operating a Windows laptop.

Location of Start Key on Dell Laptops

The start key on Dell laptops is typically located in the bottom left corner of the keyboard, similar to most Windows laptops. Some common Dell laptop models and start key locations include:

  • Dell Inspiron – Bottom left corner of keyboard
  • Dell XPS – Bottom left corner of keyboard
  • Dell Latitude – Bottom left corner of keyboard
  • Dell Vostro – Bottom left corner of keyboard

The start key will have the Windows logo on it, which looks like four small window panes. Here are some example images showing the start key location on Dell laptops:

Dell Latitude start key

Dell Inspiron start key

Identifying the Start Key Symbol

The Start key is easily identifiable by its unique graphical symbol – the Windows logo. This consists of a window-like shape with four panes and a waving flag on top. The key is usually labeled simply with the Windows logo, without any text.

By contrast, keys like Ctrl and Alt typically have text labels indicating their function. The Windows key’s symbol sets it apart visually from all other keys on a standard keyboard. Its placement between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left side of the keyboard is another distinguishing characteristic (though some keyboards may also have a second Windows key on the right side).

The Windows logo is a registered trademark of Microsoft and has been used to represent the operating system and its related products since Windows 95. When Windows 10 was released, Microsoft updated the logo slightly but kept the same basic window-and-flag design. So while individual versions may vary slightly, the basic graphical Windows logo is consistent across all keyboards and operating systems.

Start Key Functions

Pressing the Start key on a Dell laptop opens the Start menu, which provides access to all of your installed applications, settings, and files. The Start menu is a core part of the Windows user interface, allowing you to easily launch programs and find system tools. Pressing the Start key will open the Start menu from any screen or application on your Dell laptop running Windows.

In addition to opening the Start menu, holding down the Start key for 3-5 seconds will power off your Dell laptop, similar to a long press on the power button. The Start key can also be used in conjunction with other keys to perform special functions – for example, Start + Tab opens Task View which allows you to switch between open apps and virtual desktops. On some Dell laptops, Start + V opens the Narrator screen reader utility.

Compared to Mac OS, where the Command key opens the equivalent application launcher, the Start key is unique to the Windows environment. It provides quick access to the Start menu which forms the cornerstone of the Windows desktop experience across all versions of the OS. The Start key remains a convenient way to launch programs without needing to click the Start menu icon with your mouse.




Accessing the Start Menu

The Start Menu is one of the most fundamental elements of the Windows user interface. It provides quick access to programs, documents, system settings, and more. To open the Start Menu, click on the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of the screen, or press the Windows key on your keyboard.

The Start Menu contains several sections:

  • Pinned Apps – This section displays app shortcuts you have pinned for quick access.
  • Recently Added – Shows apps and files you’ve recently installed or opened.
  • Most Used – Displays app shortcuts based on frequency of use.
  • All Apps – Provides an alphabetical list of all installed applications.
  • Power Options – Buttons for Sleep, Shut Down, and Restart.
  • User Account Menu – Shows user profile picture and name.
  • Settings Icon – Opens the Windows Settings app.

To launch an app from the Start Menu, simply click on its icon. You can scroll through the Most Used and All Apps sections to locate apps. To pin apps for quicker access, right-click on an app icon and select “Pin to Start”. You can also search for apps and files by typing in the search box at the bottom.

The Start Menu is fully customizable, allowing you to tailor it to suit your needs and preferences. You can resize the menu, rearrange sections, create folder groups, and more through the Settings app. Taking the time to organize your Start Menu can greatly improve your everyday productivity.

Customizing Start Key Behavior

The Start key on Dell laptops can be customized to change what happens when it is pressed. There are several settings available for modifying the Start key’s functions.

One option is to disable the Start key if needed. This prevents the Start menu from opening when the key is accidentally pressed. To disable the Start key, open the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer. Create a new DWORD value called “NoStartMenu” and set it to 1 to disable the Start key [1].

It is also possible to change what the Start key does rather than disabling it completely. For example, the key can be remapped to open a different menu or program [2]. To remap the Start key, use a third-party key remapping tool like SharpKeys. After installing SharpKeys, open it and select the Start key under “From key”. Then choose a different key under “To key” that you want the Start key remapped to.

The Start menu itself can also be customized with different layouts, sizes and shortcuts [2]. To modify Start menu settings, right-click the Start button and select “Settings”. On the “Personalization” screen you can choose which folders appear, resize the menu, disable profile recommendations and more.

With these various customization options, Dell laptop users can adapt the Start key’s functions to best suit their needs and preferences. The key can launch alternative menus, be completely disabled, or remapped entirely for greater control.

[1] https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/configuration/windows-10-start-layout-options-and-policies

[2] https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/windows10/customizing-the-start-menu/1/

Troubleshooting Start Key

If the start key stops working on your Dell laptop, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try before contacting Dell support. The start key is essential for accessing the start menu and other Windows functions, so it’s important to resolve any issues with it.

First, try restarting your laptop to reset any temporary software issues. If that doesn’t work, check if the start key is physically stuck or damaged. You can test it by tapping the key gently and making sure it presses down. If the key seems fine physically, the issue likely lies in your Windows software or keyboard settings.

Go to your Windows keyboard settings and check if the start key shortcut is disabled. You can re-enable it by selecting the start key in the keyboard shortcuts menu. Additionally, run the Dell hardware diagnostics tool to detect any hardware issues with your keyboard.

If your start key still doesn’t work, you may need to uninstall and reinstall your keyboard drivers. Open device manager, find your keyboard driver, uninstall it, and then restart your laptop to automatically reinstall the driver. This will refresh the driver and can resolve software issues.

As a last resort, you can perform a system restore to revert your Windows installation to an earlier point when the start key was functioning. If none of these solutions fix your start key, contact Dell technical support online or by phone. Dell can help troubleshoot further based on your specific device model and provide tailored support.

Refer to: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/windows-key-not-working/0c796f79-0aa8-466e-ab44-802005d1791b

Start Key on Other Dell Devices

The start key functions similarly on Dell desktops and laptops running Windows. However, the location may differ depending on the specific Dell desktop model. On Dell all-in-one desktops, the start key is typically located in the bottom left corner of the keyboard below the screen. On tower desktops, it is in the same bottom left position as on laptops.

On Dell tablets and 2-in-1 laptops running Windows 8 or 10, there is no dedicated start key. Instead, you tap the start button in the bottom left corner of the screen to access the start menu. On tablets running full Windows 11, the start button is centered at the bottom of the screen.

Compared to non-Dell devices, Dell laptops and desktops have a standard start key location following Windows conventions. The main difference is shortcut keys specific to Dell devices, like accessing the BIOS. On other brands, the start key operates the same for accessing the start menu and other basic Windows functions.

Across operating systems, the start key enables quick access to system menus. On Windows, it opens the start menu. On Chrome OS devices, it opens the app launcher. Mac keyboards do not have a dedicated start key, but Command+Space serves a similar function of spotlight search.

Future of the Start Key

In recent years, there has been some discussion around potentially removing the dedicated Start key from laptop keyboards. Some tech industry experts have proposed ditching the Start key, arguing that it takes up valuable keyboard real estate and is no longer as essential in the modern computing experience.

However, there are also arguments in favor of keeping the Start key. Supporters say the Start key still provides quick and convenient access to the Start menu, search, power options, and other functions. Removing it would disrupt familiarity and muscle memory for many longtime PC users. The Start key remains highly recognizable as a signature part of the Windows experience.

If laptop manufacturers did remove the Start key, users would likely still be able to access the Start menu and other functions via key combinations like the Windows key + S, Windows key + X, etc. But the dedicated physical button would be gone. This could frustrate users who rely on the tactile Start key and prefer having dedicated keys over memorizing key combos.

Ultimately the fate of the Start key remains to be seen. Manufacturers will weigh feedback from users and experts. But for now, most Dell laptops still include a familiar Start key in the bottom left corner. As laptops continue evolving, it’s possible we could one day see Start keys replaced by adaptive touchscreens or other input mechanisms instead of physical keys. Only time will tell if the Start key becomes obsolete or remains a mainstay of the Windows experience.


In summary, the start key is an important part of navigating Windows on a Dell laptop. It is typically located in the bottom left corner of the keyboard and has the Windows logo on it. Pressing the start key brings up the start menu, which allows you to access programs, settings, and shut down or restart your laptop.

The start key enables you to open the start menu, search for programs, access power options like sleep, restart, or shut down, and launch Quick Links. It can also be customized in the taskbar settings to toggle the start screen instead of the menu. While most Dell laptops have a dedicated start key, some models like the XPS 13 integrate it into the power button.

Knowing where the start key is and how to use it is important for effectively operating a Dell laptop running Windows. Now that we’ve covered its location, functions, and customizations, you should feel confident using this key to launch apps, search your system, and power your device on or off.