As soon Windows 8 was released, at least for those of us with MSDN licenses, I installed it on Virtual Box since I use a Mac at home. After running into issues with Virtual Box 4.1, I installed Virtual Box 4.2 RC2 and had a lot more success.

The software I wanted to run (initially Visual Studio 2012) isn’t a Metro app, and I quickly got stuck in the legacy desktop.

I figured I needed to press the Windows button to access functionality, but it doesn’t exist on the Mac. So, how do you run Windows 8 on a Mac-based virtual machine? There are two things you need.

First, the command button to the right of the space bar is the equivalent of the Windows key.

Then, you’ll need to memorize a few shortcuts (many are not new). There is a complete list on an MSDN blog, but the following are the most important.

Windows: Toggle between Modern Desktop & Legacy Desktop

Windows + e: Start new Windows Explorer window

Windows + i: Show settings (power, network, control panel, etc.)