1. Open from the lock screen
|Windows 8 Home Screen|
2. Handle basic navigation
Windows 8's interface is all colorful tiles and touch-friendly apps. And if you're using a tablet then it'll all be very straightforward: just swipe left or right to scroll the screen, and tap any tile of interest.
On a regular desktop, though, you might alternatively spin the mouse wheel to scroll backwards and forwards.
And you can also use the keyboard. Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other, for instance, then use the cursor keys to select a particular tile, tapping Enter to select it. Press the Windows key to return to the Start screen; right-click (or swipe down on) apps you don't need and select Unpin to remove them; and drag and drop the other tiles around to organise them as you like.
3. Group apps
The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you'd prefer a more organized life then it's easy to sort them into custom groups.
You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side, for instance, to form a separate 'People' group. Click the 'minus' icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to zoom out and you'll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.
Right-click within the block (while still zoomed out) and you'll also be able to give the group a name, which - if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen - will make it much easier to find the tools you need.
4. Use the quick access menu
Right-click in the bottom-left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) for a text-based menu that provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more. Download the Win+X Menu Editor and you'll be able to further customise the list with programs of your own.
5. Find your applications
The Win+X menu is useful, but no substitute for the old Start menu as it doesn't provide access to your applications. To find this, hold down the Windows key and press Q or either right-click an empty part of the Start screen or swipe your finger up from the bottom of the screen and select 'All Apps' to reveal a scrolling list of all your installed applications. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.
6. Make access easier
If there's an application you use all the time then you don't
have to access it via the search system. Pin it to the Start screen and it'll be available at a click.
Start by typing part of the name of your application. To access Control Panel, for instance, type 'Control'. Right-click the 'Control Panel' tile on the Apps Search screen, and click 'Pin to Start'. If you're using a touchscreen, press and hold the icon, then flick down and select 'Pin to Start'
Now press the Windows key, scroll to the right and you'll see the Control Panel tile at the far end. Drag and drop this over to the left somewhere if you'd like it more easily accessible, then click the tile to open the desktop along with the Control Panel window, and press the Windows key to return you to the Start screen when you're done.
7. Shut down
To shut Windows 8 down, just move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon - or just hold down the Windows key and press I - and you'll see a power button. Click this and choose 'Shut Down' or 'Restart'.
Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you'll be presented with the same 'Shut Down' and 'Restart' options.
And if you're on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you'll be able to choose 'Shut Down', 'Restart', 'Sign Out' or 'Switch User' options.
8. Use the app bar
9. Launch apps from the desktop
Windows 8 doesn't provide any obvious way to launch apps straight from the desktop, but this is actually surprisingly easy to set up.
Right-click on an empty part of your desktop, select New > Shortcut, and type Explorer Shell:Apps Folder in the "Location" box. Click Next, enter a name - "All Programs", for instance - and click Finish. Double-clicking that shortcut will open a folder listing all your installed programs, including the apps, and you can launch whatever you like.
10. See what's running
11. Close an app
If that's too much hassle, then simply pressing Alt+F4 still works.
And when all else fails then press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager, right-click something in the Apps list and select End Task. Beware, though, close something you shouldn't and it's easy to crash or lock up your PC.
12. Hide the task bar
If you run Windows 8 on a tablet then it makes sense to keep your task bar on the left, where it takes minimal space and is best placed for easy thumb access. Switch your tablet to portrait orientation, though, and you'll suddenly find the task bar grabs much more valuable screen real estate.
It doesn't have to be this way, however - not if you install Surface Task bar Helper. This neat tool enables you to set the task bar to "auto hide" based on its current orientation, so for instance you can always show it in landscape view, but hide it in portrait, which is a very flexible way to get the most out of your display space.
13. Master Internet Explorer in Windows 8
Click the Internet Explorer tile from the Start menu and you'll launch a full-screen version without toolbars, menus or sidebars, which like so much of Windows 8 may leave you initially feeling lost.
Right-click an empty part of the page or flick your finger down from the top of the screen, though, and you'll find options to create and switch between tabs, as well as a Refresh button, a 'Find' tool and the ability to pin an Internet shortcut to the Start page. Click the spanner icon and select 'View on the desktop' to open the full desktop version of Internet Explore
15. Run two apps side by side
Windows 8 apps all have spell check where relevant, which looks and works much as it does in Microsoft Office. Make a mistake and a wavy red line will appear below the offending word; tap or right-click this to see suggested alternative words, or add the word to your own dictionary if you prefer.
Windows 8 apps are what Microsoft calls "immerse" applications, which basically means they run full-screen - but there is a way to view two at once. Swipe from the left and the last app you were using will turn into a thumbnail; drop this and one app displays in a sidebar pane while your current app takes the rest of the screen. And you can then swap these by swiping again.
16. Run as Administrator
Some programs need you to run them with Administrator rights before they'll work properly. The old context menu isn't available for a pinned Start screen app, but right-click one, and if it's appropriate for this app then you'll see a Run As Administrator option.
17. Make a large app tile smaller
You'll notice that some Windows 8 apps have small live tiles, while others have larger tiles that take up the space of two tiles. Right-clicking on a Windows 8 apps Start screen tile will display a few relevant options. If this is one of the larger tiles, choosing 'Smaller' will cut it down to half the size, freeing up some valuable Start screen real estate.
18. Un-Install easily
If you want to hide an unused app for now, select 'Unpin from Start'. The tile will disappear, but if you change your mind then you can always add it again later. (Search for the app, right-click it, select 'Pin to Start'.)
And, if you're sure you'll never want to use an app again, choose 'Uninstall' will remove it entirely.
Of course, if you like to try out lots of apps then un-installing them one at a time can get a little tedious. If that becomes a problem, give Windows App Boss a try - it enables you to select multiple apps and remove them all at once.
It is worth keeping in mind that by default Windows 8 apps can use your name, location and account picture. If you're not happy with that, it's easily changed. Press Win+I, click More PC Settings, select Privacy and click the relevant buttons to disable any details you'd rather not share.
20. Show administrative tools
Open the Charm bar by flicking your finger from the right-hand side of the screen and select 'Settings' then 'Tiles'. Change 'Show administrative tools' to 'Yes' and click back on an empty part of the Start screen. And it's as simple as that. Scroll to the right and you'll find a host of new tiles for various key applets - Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, Task Scheduler, Resource Monitor and more - ready to be accessed at a click.