Sure, Windows 8's Start screen represents a whole new approach towards personal computing (at least for Windows users) but once you get on top of things, working your way through the interface should be a breeze.
We've been using Windows 8 for a while now, so allow us to share some helpful tips and tricks that will make your experience with the operatingsystem better. As always, feel free to leave suggestions in the comment area below.
Some might say that Microsoft laid a gauntlet at users' feet, demanding that they accommodate the significantly different workflow of Windows 8. We’re not here to say that Windows 8 is a must. After all, you’re free to use the operating system you’re most comfortable with—a choice that includes the availability of desired programs. However, if you are using Windows 8, be prepared for the change it represents. Once you understand that Windows 8 is a different experience, understanding how to make full use of it becomes that much easier.
Another Microsoft product serves as a great analogy for Windows 8: Microsoft Office. When the office suite’s 2007 edition said goodbye to the traditional toolbars for the ribbon, many users complained about the steep learning curve. Fast forward several years later, such reservations about the new interface no longer hold weight.
Yes, Windows 8 is designed to be primarily controlled through a touchscreen. However, you can't expect Microsoft to leave millions of Windows 7 users out in the cold, especially when they are all potential upgrade customers for 8.
That's why, for the most part, your old keyboard shortcuts will work. Aside from the good ol' Copy (Ctrl + C), Paste (Ctrl + V), and Cut (Ctrl + X), you have system commands such as close (Alt + F4), lock system (Windows Key + L), and show desktop (Windows Key + D).
And access Windows 8-only elements such as the Start screen and the "Charms" toolbar is also possible via the keyboard and mouse. You can hit the Windows Key or move the pointer to the upper and lower right corners of the screen. Here are some useful Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts to keep in mind.
Most of Windows 8 is designed to run full-screen. Novice users can find this disconcerting, especially if they’re used to toolbars when working with programs. Think of the same Desktop you’ve used in Windows 7 and previous versions as a separate app of sorts: to access it and use your older software without too much trouble requires launching it from the Start screen. Desktop Mode is a reason why a lot of talk about Windows 8’s "incompatibility" with legacy applications fall flat, because, once it’s active, it’s as if you were using a classic version of Windows.
Any one of your programs, whether designed for Windows 8 or not, is bound to crash or freeze up. So how do you recover? Just press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to summon the Task Manager. It lists not only all your running apps but processes, background software you normally don't interact with directly. Just select the offending app, then click on End Task to close the program.
The App History tab also shows how much resources a program has consumed, allowing you to see just why your computer is slowing down. Make sure you stay away from the Processes, however. As a general rule, you should only end those kind of tasks if you really know what you're doing.
Is your screen resolution at least 1366 x 768? Then you can use Aero Snap. Just press Windows Key + . (yes, that shortcut includes a period) to make the app snap to the right and make some space on the left for another app, which you’ll snap to the left by pressing Windows + Shift + . (again, a period).
Aero Snap creates a movable separator between the two snapped apps, which means you can shrink one app and turn it into a sidebar of sorts. This lets you keep it very accessible as you work with the other app, as you can treat entire programs as sidebars that you can expand on demand.
For casual users, uninstalling applications from a Windows 7 (or older) installation proves difficult. It requires launching a separate program, selecting the software to uninstall, and then waiting. On Windows 8 however, Microsoft has simplified the process significantly. That is, for apps on the Start screen at least. All you have to do is right-click on a tile, and select Uninstall. It’s that simple.
By default, Windows 8 apps have access to your account name, picture, and even location. While some of us have no problems with those three pieces of data becoming public, there is a way to limit that.
Just press Windows Key + I wherever you are, and a special menu will appear. Click on More PC Settings, then select Privacy. You’ll be presented with a list of options that you can uncheck or keep checked for more or less privacy respectively.