Windows 8.1 (a free update to Windows 8, get it from the store if you haven’t upgraded it yet! And yes you can upgrade from Windows 7) has been out since October, but I know that some people are still finding their way around. So I decided to write up my 81 tips for using Windows 8.1. Yes, eighty-one. And no, they’re not paying me to do this. Just free tips for you, how awesome! If you do better with general tutorials than tip lists, then scroll to the bottom, I have some handy links there.
Tips after the jump..
Here. We. Go.
1) pin apps
If you use an app or program all the time, pin it to your start screen, then it’s always just a tap or click away. Click on the arrow in the lower right corner of your start screen, or swipe upward if you’re using touch. Find the app and select it by pressing and holding or right-clicking. Tap or click “pin to start” in the lower left corner of the screen.
2) uninstall apps
Never going to use an app or program? Select it (press and hold or right click) from the “all apps” section or on your start screen and choose uninstall. If it’s an app from the windows store, it will quickly uninstall, if it’s a traditional desktop program you’ll be redirected to uninstall via the control panel like you’re used to.
3) unpin apps
Want to keep an app, but don’t need it on your start screen? Select the tile on your start screen by pressing and holding or right-clicking, then choose “unpin from start.”
4) personalize your start screen design
Change up your start screen color and design! While on your start screen, open the settings charm and choose personalize. Fun designs, plus LOTS of color choices, and you even get to choose your accent color.
5) move multiple tiles on your start screen
Select your tiles by pressing and holding or right clicking. Once all your tiles are selected, drag them to the desired location on your start screen. They can be moved to their own group or within another group. You can move tiles individually as well.
6) name app groups
Right click anywhere on the screen or swipe from the bottom edge and choose customize. Now you can name and rename your app groups on the start screen.
7) find a new pinned app
Anytime you pin something to the start screen it always shows up in the next available position on the screen- the far right end. Scroll to the end of the screen to find it.
8) pin website to start screen
Open IE11, navigate to your webpage, right click or swipe from the bottom edge of the screen and choose the star in the lower right corner, then choose the pushpin that appears. Name your pin, and tap or click “pin to start.”
9) pin person to start screen
If you have a good friend or family member you like to keep up with you might pin them to your start screen, that way you can see their Facebook or Twitter updates on your start screen as they happen. Open the People app, find the person, right click or swipe from the bottom edge and choose “pin to start.”
10) live tiles
Items on your start screens, whether they be people, sites, or apps, are called tiles. Some tiles can be live, bringing you updates (ie, social network notifications, new emails, breaking news, local weather, etc.) even if the app is closed. If you like this feature, right click or press and hold the tile and choose “turn live tile on.” If you don’t like it, do the same thing, but choose “turn live tile off.”
11) resize tiles
Press and hold or right click a tile and choose “resize” to choose a size that you like best.
12) folders and libraries on start screen
If you’re consistently using specific document, picture, or other file folders or libraries, try pinning them to the start screen. In the desktop, right click or press and hold the folder and choose “pin to start.”
13) use your desktop background as your start screen design
From the start screen, open the settings charm, choose personalize, and choose your desktop background instead of one of the premade designs.
14) what are the charms?
The charms are a menu that appear on the right edge of the screen whenever you need them. They are the things you do most on your PC: search, share, connect to devices, adjust settings, and get back to the start screen. If you need to do any of those things, open the charms
15) reveal charms using the keyboard
Press and hold the Windows key (the key in the lower left corner of your keyboard that looks like the Windows symbol, usually next to the alt key) and also press the letter “C.”
16) reveal charms using mouse
WITHOUT CLICKING move your mouse off the upper right corner of the screen, then move your mouse straight down until the charms appear.
17) reveal charms using touch
Place your finger OFF the right edge of the screen, swipe your finger onto the screen just a couple of inches.
18) Searching from the start screen
From your start screen, just begin typing whatever you’re looking for, whether it be a file, an app or a setting (like how to make your mouse cursor bigger- search for mouse). If you’re on your start screen you don’t have to click anywhere, just start typing
19) use search charm to search
No matter where you are in Windows you can always reveal the charms and choose the search charm to search the app you’re in, the PC, or the web.
20) searching specifically
If you know you only want to search files, settings, web images, or web videos, instead of your entire PC and the web, when you use the search charm choose the drop down menu and pick your desired type of search.
21) Bing Smart Search
Bing smart search searches your entire PC and the web in an app view instead of a traditional search. Do your search like normal and then press enter or choose the magnifying glass icon next to your search field, and Bing will bring you a curated app of the most relevant search results, both from on your PC and on the web.
22) what’s the share charm?
Use the share charm when there’s something you want to share to another app. Most people use this with photos, websites, or news articles, find one you want to share with someone then, use the share charm and choose how you’d like to share. Common choices are email, facebook, and Twitter, but there are lots of apps that utilize the share feature.
23) devices charm
The devices charm gives you access to devices you use in conjunction with your PC like printers and second screens.
If you’re using an app that doesn’t have a print option on screen, use devices and choose print, your available printers will appear, and you can choose where to print.
If you use a second screen like a TV connected via HDMI or a second PC screen, use the project option in devices to choose how you’d like to project.
If you have a tv or stereo that your PC can stream to, use play to choose your device and stream your content.
27) settings charm
The settings charm gives you access to the options that control how your PC functions. Your most common settings appear in the lower right corner any time you open the settings charm. If you’re in a particular app and you need to adjust the app’s settings, open the app and then open settings, most of the settings menu will be devoted to that particular app.
28) change pc settings
If you’re looking for general pc settings, open the settings charm and in the lower right corner choose “change pc settings.”
29) left edge
The right edge of the screen is all about the charms. The left edge gives you access to all your open apps, to see all the open apps or quickly switch between them
30) switching between apps with touch
Place your finger OFF the left edge of the screen, swipe your finger onto the screen. Do this repeatedly to continue switching through all apps you have open.
31) switching between apps with mouse
Place mouse off the upper left corner of screen and click.
32) switching between apps with keyboard
Hold down Windows key and press the tab key on the keyboard.
33) how can I see what apps I have open?
There is a bar that appears on the left edge that reveals all apps that are currently open. From here you can choose one to activate, or close or snap individual open apps with the mouse.
34) reveal open apps with keyboard
Win + tab, press tab until you get to the app you want, release and that app will fill the screen.
35) reveal open apps with mouse
WITHOUT CLICKING, place your mouse off the upper left corner of the screen and move mouse down until open apps appear.
36) reveal open apps with touch
Place your finger OFF the left edge of the screen, swipe onto the screen 1-2 inches, keeping your finger on the screen, swipe your finger back OFF the left edge of the screen. Once the open apps appear, tap the one you want to activate.
37) how to get back to an app when it launches a new one
Application of the left edge: If you use an app, and it launches a new one (ie, you click a link and it opens Internet Explorer 11), when you finish and want to go back to the previous app, use one of these mouse, touch, or keyboard commands to go back to the previous app.
38) what are app commands?
App commands are additional options within an app. If you know there should be a way for you to do x, but there’s no command for it on the screen, reveal the app commands to find it. App commands typically show up at the top edge of the screen, the bottom edge of the screen, or both. Some apps do not have additional commands. Desktop programs (programs that you did NOT get from the Windows Store) do not use this feature.
39) reveal app commands with touch
Place your finger OFF the bottom or top edge of the screen, swipe onto the screen 1-2 inches.
40) reveal app commands with keyboard
Win + z
41) reveal app commands with mouse
42) closing apps in Windows 8.1
You may find yourself opening up multiple apps at once in Windows 8.1. Only apps that are active take up significant resources from your PC, the rest are sitting in the background, ready to go if you need them, but in a standby mode. You can close them, but if you shut down with several apps still open you won’t hurt anything. When you close an app you’ll be returned to the start screen. Close traditional desktop apps (like Office) the way you always have, by clicking the red x in the upper right corner of the screen.
43) close apps using touch
Place your finger OFF the top edge of the screen, drag it all the way to the bottom edge of the screen.
44) close apps using keyboard
Alt + f4
45) close apps using mouse
Place your mouse at the top edge of the screen, left click and hold, drag your mouse to the bottom edge of the screen.
46) What is snap?
Snap just means you’re running 2 apps “snapped” side by side, on the screen at the same time. Unlike Windows 8, Windows 8.1 allows you to view apps side by side, splitting the screen into whatever proportion you want (half and half, one quarter and three quarters, etc.)
47) snap with mouse, method 1
Make sure at least 2 are open. Click in the upper left corner to activate an app. Now place your mouse in the upper left corner, left click and hold, and drag the next app down until it nudges the active app to the side. Let go. Left click and hold divider to adjust the sizes of the snapped apps.
48) snap with mouse, method 2
Make sure at least 2 apps are open. Click in the upper left corner to activate an app. Now place your mouse at the top edge of the screen, left click and hold, and drag app down and to the right or left until the divider appears. Let go, and app will fill one side of the screen. Click in the upper left corner to bring the next app onto the other half of the screen. Left click and hold divider to adjust the sizes of the snapped apps.
49) snap with touch, method 1
Make sure at least 2 apps are open. Swipe from the left edge to activate an open app. Place your finger off the left edge of the screen, swipe your finger onto the screen 1-2 inches and pause, once the active app moves over, let go. Tap and hold the divider to adjust the sizes of your snapped apps.
50) snap with touch, method 2
Make sure at least 2 apps are open. Place your finger OFF the top edge of the screen, swipe your finger down to the middle edge of the screen, dragging the app. Keeping your finger on the screen, drag your app to the right or left, until the divider appears. Let go, and the app will fill one side of the screen. Swipe from the left edge to bring the next app onto the screen. Tap and hold the divider to adjust the sizes of your snapped apps.
51) snap on desktop
Snap was actually a feature new to Windows 7 that allows you to quickly snap 2 windows side by side (filling up exactly half the screen) without the pain of manual resizing. It’s still present in the Windows 8.1 desktop. Left click and hold, or tap and hold, the title bar of your window, and drag it to one edge of the screen, once your finger or mouse hits the edge of the screen the window will automatically resize to fill exactly half the screen. Keyboard shortcut? win+ right or left arrow.
Internet Explorer 11
52) switch to desktop in IE 11
There are 2 versions of IE 11, the one that runs full screen and launches from the start screen and feels more “mobile” because it’s very touch friendly, and the desktop version that will look very familiar to you if you’ve used previous versions of IE. I find that 99% of the time any website will run in either version. Occasionally, though, something on a site is not running properly, and I often find that it run in the desktop version just fine. Also, sometimes I just realize I would prefer to run the site on the desktop. Either way, it’s easy to switch to desktop: right click or swipe from the bottom edge, tap or click the wrench in the lower right corner, and then choose “view in the desktop.”
53) Desktop IE 11 runs continuously
Most apps made for Windows 8.1 will pause or go into a standby mode if you start doing something else. Lately I’ve been streaming podcasts off websites, and I like to let them run while I do all kinds of other stuff. If you want to do something similar, use the desktop IE 11, not the more modern, full-screen IE 11 from the start screen. The website will continue running the audio and you can do whatever else you want to do without it stopping.
54) inprivate browsing
Use InPrivate Browsing on a public or shared PC, none of your web history will be left behind. Right click or swipe from the bottom edge, click the three dots, choose “New InPrivate tab.”
55) bring up address bar and tabs
IE 11 puts your site in the full screen without extraneous menus. To reveal the address bar and your open tabs right click or swipe from the bottom edge.
56) always show tabs and address bar in IE11
If you find it annoying to have to constantly reveal the address bar and tabs, you can set them to stay open. Open IE11, open the settings charm, turn “always show address bar and tabs” on.
57) set home page IE11
In the same settings you can pick your home page for IE11 (what site loads when you open your browser).
58) internet favorites
Looking for your favorites? Right click or swipe from the bottom edge, choose the star, and your favorites are listed across the bottom of the screen. Click the star and plus sign if you want to add your current site to your favorites.
59) internet tabs
Right click or swipe from the bottom edge to see your open internet tabs. If you use multiple windows 8 PCs you can click the drop down menu to see the open tabs on your other devices.
60) boot to desktop
If you just can’t take the start screen and find yourself only using the desktop you can boot directly to desktop. Open the desktop, right click the taskbar, choose properties, choose the navigation tab, and check “when I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”
61) turn off corners
If you hate the corner navigation features with the mouse and they’re getting in your way… turn them off! Open the settings charm, choose “change PC settings,” choose “PC and devices,” choose “corners and edges,” and turn the corner navigation features off.
62) hidden start menu
There is a hidden start menu. Right click in the lower left corner to get quick access to things like task manager and control panel.
63) lower left corner
Point your mouse to the lower left corner of the screen, a Windows symbol will appear and clicking it takes you back to the start screen.
64) How to see all apps
All apps is like looking at “all programs” in previous versions of Windows. To get there click the arrow in the lower left corner of the start screen, or just brush upward on your start screen with touch. All installed apps are listed in alphabetical order by section. You can launch apps from here, but you can also pin or unistall them as well.
65) shut down or restart
Open settings charm, tap or click the power symbol, choose your power option. Alternatively, right click in the lower left corner, and choose “shut down or sign out.”
66) lock screen picture slideshow
Your lock screen is the image that shows up when your PC goes to sleep. You can set it to be a picture slideshow in “change PC settings.” Choose “PC and devices,” then “Lock Screen.” Turn on “play a slideshow on the lock screen” and pick the source for your slideshow.
67) activating on screen keyboard
Occasionally my virtual keyboard doesn’t launch when it should. To bring it up on a touch device, open the charms, choose settings, then choose “keyboard” in the lower right corner. then tap “touch keyboard and handwriting panel.”
68) file explorer ribbon
By default File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer, your file management program) looks like the top photo, with no ribbon, or menu, across the top. But, especially if you’re using a touch device, that ribbon (seen in the bottom photo) is super handy! Tap or click the down arrow that’s in the top right corner of the window to reveal it.
69) choose autoplay defaults
If you want to pick what happens when you plug in certain types of devices like USB drives and memory cards, adjust your autoplay settings. Open settings charm, choose “change PC settings,” then “PC and devices,” then “Autoplay,” and make your adjustments.
71) sign in options
There are lots of ways to sign in: a traditional password, a 4 number pin, or a picture password where you draw a design on a personal photo to log in to your PC. Choose your preferred sign in option by opening the settings charm, choosing “change PC settings,” then “accounts,” then choose “sign in options” and set it up the way you like.
72) skydrive as default… or not
Some of us (me! me! me!) like to save our files to SkyDrive by default, that way we don’t lose anything accidentally. But if that’s not your preference, change it! Settings charm, change PC Settings, SkyDrive, and turn off “save items to SkyDrive by default.”
73) reading list
Reading List is a brand new app that is built in to Windows 8.1. If you find an interesting article but don’t have time to read it rightthissecond, then use the share charm to send it to your Reading List. Later, open the Reading List app and pick up where you left off!
74) windows defender
Most consumer level users have no need for a third party anti-virus or anti-malware program in Windows 8.1 (or Windows 8), just use Windows Defender which is built in and always protecting your PC.
75) set weather app to your hometown
The weather app is built in to Windows 8.1 (and 8), but it’s only really useful if you set it to where you live. Open the Weather app, right click or swipe from the bottom, choose “places.” Then change your home by clicking on the square that has the home and magnifying glass icon.
76) windows store for new apps
To find more apps for the things you do, browse the Windows Store.
77) help + tips
The Help+Tips app is built in to Windows 8.1, open that up to walk you through some of this new Windows stuff that may be unfamiliar.
78) change power options
Decide how long before your PC goes to sleep or turns off the display. Settings charm, “change PC settings,” “PC and Devices,” “Power and Sleep.”
79) change what power button does
Decide what happens when you press the power button once. On the start screen search for power, toward the bottom of the options you’ll find “change what the power buttons do.” Click that option, and it will take you straight to the section of the control panel in the bottom photo. Adjust as you see fit.
80) change what happens when you shut your laptop lid
Same as number 79, just make adjustment to the close the lid section instead.
Need help with a particular app? Open the app, reveal the charms and choose settings, and most apps will have a help option there.
WHEW! 81! And, not all of those, but many, will also work on Windows 8, but come on, get your free upgrade already!
Easy to Read How-tos from Windows
Remember, you can always contact me if you are in the Fort Worth area and could use some help with your tech stuff, even if it’s not Windows-based! I’d love to talk to you about getting some help!