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Tom's Guide: Windows 8 Tips & Tricks

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 22 comments

Check out Tom's Guide's latest article on Windows 8 tips and tricks!

Windows 8 has been out for almost six months but many users are still getting to grips with the drastically different user interface this new iteration of Windows ushered in. To help you get the most out of Windows 8, the Tom's Guide team has put together a list of tips and tricks for the OS. Check out 'Windows 8 Tips & Tricks' for the full list.

 

Months after its release, Windows 8 continues to irritate and confound longtime Windows users. However, those willing to do a little unlearning and relearning have made the most out of the new OS's hybrid of traditional keyboard and mouse controls, as well as its touch-driven interfaces. Here are a few of our favorite little tips, tricks, and habits to make Windows 8 that much easier to use.

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  • 1 Hide
    soundping , March 27, 2013 8:09 AM
    Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap!"
  • 6 Hide
    jisamaniac , March 27, 2013 10:47 AM
    Tip 1 "Don't install Windows 8."
  • 5 Hide
    John Nemesh , March 27, 2013 10:56 AM
    Tip #2: If you DO have Windows 8 installed already, format your drive and install a proper OS.
  • 2 Hide
    AndreT , March 27, 2013 11:43 AM
    Why doesn't Microsoft listen to us??? We don't all want the tablet based stuff forced on our desktops/laptops?? It's not natural/easy and is in the way of productivity. Enterprise office work is for production, not consumption. Tablet based OS's are geared for consumption, not production. Admit the mistake and move on with a proper UI for Desktop/Laptops or at least the option to not use Metro without a 3rd party app.
  • 0 Hide
    John Nemesh , March 27, 2013 12:13 PM
    What's worse in my mind are all of the tech sites (like this one) that seem to gloss over the HATE that users have for this OS..."tips and tricks" articles, etc. I feel that the tech sites in particular, ESPECIALLY ones that cater to enthusiasts like "Tom's Hardware" should be steering customers away from this abomination instead of taking the approach that "Metro" is inevitable and we should just get used to it!
  • 2 Hide
    phump , March 27, 2013 12:49 PM
    The start screen is no different from the old start menu:
    - Hit winkey or click lower left to access
    - Navigate to program or setting shortcuts

    The start menu provided too much information and relied heavily on hover mechanics, which are terrible. While windows 8 employs hover mechanics for charms, you can completely avoid the use of those by creating custom tiles for power options or other important settings (try Obly Tile or other 3rd-party apps).

    The winkey+x shortcut gives you easier access than ever for program management, power settings, control panel, device manager, system, disk mgmt, and other things power users use daily.

    Tom's users try to create the impression that the start menu is a tablet interface and a huge change from the old interface. It's not.
  • 1 Hide
    AndreT , March 27, 2013 1:06 PM
    Yes, it IS different. It's there for the sole purpose of running "apps" which don't run on the desktop. That's it! Period! It's not cleaner by any means after you've installed a few applications (heck even office alone bollocks it up). Same way you can't run desktop based programs from the "modern UI", it's a separate OS in and of itself designed for Microsoft to sell consumption content via the app store. Why is this so hard for everyone who sings win 8 paises to grasp?

    A lot of us don't want consumption driven "apps" on our production geard/based PC at work. Or any form of touch for that matter. It's ill suited interaction in a modern workstation environment. Sitting on a couch is one thing, but at a desk is something entirely different.

    I understand all the key combo shortcuts, and some of them are awkward as well to do with one hand. I shouldn't be forced to use them if I don't want the Jarring MetroUI to snap back into view. It is a huge change from the old interface.

    (oh and those hover mechanics you mention about the old start menu, you can turn those off by removing a checkmark, not so with giving me the option to not use "Modern UI", I have to go to a 3rd party app).
  • 2 Hide
    phump , March 27, 2013 1:36 PM
    Quote:
    It's there for the sole purpose of running "apps" which don't run on the desktop.


    No, it's not. You can have shortcuts to "apps" (which I don't use), but it's a quick link to commonly used applications, just like the start menu. You control the content and nothing is forced on you.

    Quote:
    you can't run desktop based programs from the "modern UI"


    I would love to know what that means. I have tiles to open Steam, Starcraft, MS Office, etc. How does the start screen limit the programs you can launch?

    Quote:
    I understand all the key combo shortcuts


    Keyboard shortcuts are one reason I will never prefer touch screens. You may not use them, but you can't discount their efficiency. Still, you can create tiles on the start screen to link to various setting menus, and you can pin something like the control panel to the taskbar.
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , March 27, 2013 1:37 PM
    When will Microsoft learn that Windows 8 is a failure and a lost cause?
  • 0 Hide
    AndreT , March 27, 2013 1:54 PM
    slomo4shoWhen will Microsoft learn that Windows 8 is a failure and a lost cause?


    Answer to #1, you can have desktop shortcuts to "apps", but they don't run in the desktop environment. How many other windows can you have open when you are running that app. I understand you can have the Modern UI screen 85/15% split with the desktop interface but a lot of times that renders the app running in the 15% space completely useless. The desktop is definitely useless in the 15% space. Hence everyone's remarks that it should be called Window 8, instead of Windows 8.

    Answer to #2, you can run Microsoft Word from a shortcut on the Modern UI, but it's not running as an "app" in the modern UI, it's running on the desktop. The two are not interchangable. Why do you think no programs designed for Windows 7 will run on Windows RT, because that platform only supports modern UI apps. On the desktop it's a schizophrenic OS.

    The point is that the two should never have been cobbled together or if they were, at least give users the ability to easily select the proper UI for their computing environment. Not force a change on me that is ill suited for desktop/laptos especially in the workplace.
  • 0 Hide
    phump , March 27, 2013 2:11 PM
    Quote:
    give users the ability to easily select the proper UI for their computing environment


    The "apps" are available if you have a desire to use them (I lied, I like Bing weather), but they are not forced on you. Otherwise, you can launch your desktop applications using the tiles, but as you know they don't run with Modern limitations. So I don't know what problems you perceive with launching a desktop application from the start screen. As I said, the concept is identical to the start menu, but you are just looking at it full-screen.
  • 1 Hide
    AndreT , March 27, 2013 2:47 PM
    I don't mean forced to use apps, I mean I feel forced into using the Modern UI unless I install a 3rd party utility, which I won't do.

    The start menu is a condensed, organized grouping of programs that is easily navigable without being snapped away from what I was doing to look at big blocks of color that take up the whole screen. It's an uncomfortable user experience at best. If you can live with it or what most people do, install some other start menu hack then by all means, I'm not trying to stop you. 2.6% of the PC/Desktop population agree, it's the way to go. Most users and I on the other hand can't stand it and refuse to install a 3rd party app (especially for the users in my office environment).

    I got the stats from netmarketshare, it's interesting. By the way win 7 is on the rise again.
  • 4 Hide
    killerb255 , March 27, 2013 3:21 PM
    Although I've adapted to Windows 8, I can see why people struggle with it. They should have had the tiles on the Desktop where Gadgets used to be.

    As for a Start Menu, Classic Shell gets the job done for free. I think Win8StartButton is the best of both worlds: a Start "Screen" that is not full-sized. Others sing the praises of Start8 as well.

    All in all, Microsoft is so desperate to get mobile share that they rushed the Windows 8 Start Screen together on top of what is otherwise Windows 7. There's also some usability issues: it's not intuitive...Windows keys aside, most of the things I've learned I kind of "ran into":
    1) Charms bar on the lower right -> Settings -> Power -> Shut down or restart
    2) Drag an app from top to bottom to close
    3) If in doubt, click a corner (doesn't work as well with touch--you have to slide from the right side to left to get Charms).
    4) Right-click -> All Apps to get the "All Programs" equivalent in the Start Screen (or with touch, swipe from the bottom to the top -> All Apps).
    5) Right-click the bottom left corner to get a menu with things like Control Panel, Run, Command Prompt, Command Prompt (admin), etc.

    Again, none of this is intuitive. Microsoft rushed this out.

    Hopefully with Windows 9 or Windows Blue, they'll have better tutorials and/or merge the two interfaces together better. Right now, it is schizophrenic.
  • 0 Hide
    phump , March 27, 2013 3:53 PM
    Quote:
    The start menu is a condensed


    I always felt it was too condensed, with small font, and a pain to navigate (especially when lists cut off). I use multiple monitors so I have no problem sacrificing one screen for the few seconds I need to open a program. You don't multitask while you're opening a new program.

    Quote:
    1) Charms bar on the lower right -> Settings -> Power -> Shut down or restart


    This is terrible, I agree. Just create tiles for those.

    Quote:
    2) Drag an app from top to bottom to close


    I had to google this one. Alt+F4 works though.

    Navigation to staple menus like the control panel and power options has changed without any instruction. They also should have packaged a tile utility like Obly Tile. However, if you can tolerate tweaking the UI, it's a great OS.
  • 3 Hide
    phump , March 27, 2013 4:00 PM
    Quote:
    By the way win 7 is on the rise again.


    7 is going to continue to rise as enterprises shift from XP. That 40% XP chunk is mostly enterprise and that will all go to 7. The 8 rate will depend on PC sales. Relatively few people (like me) upgrade their OS on their own.
  • 0 Hide
    tuxplorer , March 27, 2013 9:14 PM
    killerb255Although I've adapted to Windows 8, I can see why people struggle with it. They should have had the tiles on the Desktop where Gadgets used to be. As for a Start Menu, Classic Shell gets the job done for free. I think Win8StartButton is the best of both worlds: a Start "Screen" that is not full-sized. Others sing the praises of Start8 as well.All in all, Microsoft is so desperate to get mobile share that they rushed the Windows 8 Start Screen together on top of what is otherwise Windows 7. There's also some usability issues: it's not intuitive...Windows keys aside, most of the things I've learned I kind of "ran into":1) Charms bar on the lower right -> Settings -> Power -> Shut down or restart2) Drag an app from top to bottom to close3) If in doubt, click a corner (doesn't work as well with touch--you have to slide from the right side to left to get Charms).4) Right-click -> All Apps to get the "All Programs" equivalent in the Start Screen (or with touch, swipe from the bottom to the top -> All Apps). 5) Right-click the bottom left corner to get a menu with things like Control Panel, Run, Command Prompt, Command Prompt (admin), etc.Again, none of this is intuitive. Microsoft rushed this out. Hopefully with Windows 9 or Windows Blue, they'll have better tutorials and/or merge the two interfaces together better. Right now, it is schizophrenic.


    Win8StartButton is just a rebranding/repackaging of Classic Shell btw. It's website mentions the Classic Shell license as well.
  • 2 Hide
    v1ctor , March 27, 2013 10:53 PM
    I just didnt like it. it seems half assed even with the slight boost in performance from the hardware. I didnt like the new unbuntu interface as well. I wish the live tiles were on my desktop, like a boss, and my start menu, which I can navigate with the mouse swiftly was still there. Metro would be good as a website design. I tried to like it and I do use it on a secondary system that needs a performance boost due to the slower hardware but on my main rig, its win 7.
  • -2 Hide
    MDScene , March 27, 2013 11:03 PM
    Seriously, unless you expect to be spoon fed the same OS over and over, 8 isn't so bad. Take time to learn all the new stuff and it's actually much smoother than any other Windows OS. Obviously there will be issues at first. I have yet to see a system go through a MAJOR change without some bugs or issues. In the end I think this will be a good step from the old style.
  • 0 Hide
    lazylizard , March 28, 2013 7:14 AM
    On a desktop or laptop you definitely need to install a start menu helper that boots straight to the desktop.
    I am not ready for apps on a mouse driven yet.
    I also disable the app processes to improve performance.
    All this should have been a user choice build into the OS installation: touch screen or mouse?!
  • 0 Hide
    lazylizard , March 28, 2013 7:19 AM
    lazylizardOn a desktop or laptop you definitely need to install a start menu helper that boots straight to the desktop. I am not ready for apps on a mouse driven yet.I also disable the app processes to improve performance. All this should have been a user choice build into the OS installation: touch screen or mouse?!

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