15+ Windows 8 tips, tricks and Shortcuts to enhance Desktop experience

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview edition is finally out and is being considered as a major bet by Microsoft as a single operating system both for Desktop and mobile devices  in terms of major departure from conventional design of a Desktop operating system. For most first time users of Windows 8, the feel that comes after using it is that it is more dedicated to touch devices instead of normal desktops with mouse and Keyboard.

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But if you keep using it for some time, that feel starts to go away as you start discovering Windows 8 by leaps and bounds. After using it for almost more than a week, I have started to love it on my Desktop. In this post, we will talk about some of the simple tips and tricks to do things on a Windows 8 system.

1. Installation of Windows 8

We have already covered this in our previous posts. Check the two posts below if you are facing difficulty in installing Windows 8 on your system. Even though the posts below were written for Windows 8 developer preview edition, still they hold good for latest release of Windows 8.

2. Login Screen

The login screen of Windows 8 is a bit different from Windows 8 in the sense that you wont find a box by default to enter the password of the user account on PC. Instead you will find the wallaper with notification icons like network status, new emails and other app notifications.

To get to the login screen, you just need to pull the Wallaper from the bottom to upside, just like pulling the curtains up or you can just press the Esc or Down arrow keys on keyboard. Now you can enter the password to get access to your PC by entering the password.

3. Create a Picture or Gesture Password

With Windows 8 you can create passwords with the help of Pictures or by using a custom gesture created by you making it almost impossible for anyone to guess it to get unauthorised entry to your PC.

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4. Auto Logon to your PC

You can configure your system to make it logon automatically whenever you start your System. You can enable this by running the command “control userpasswords2” in the run Window and selecting the option that User should not enter the password while logging in.

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5. Read PDF files with built in PDF reader (Reader App)

Using the integrated Reader App inside Windows 8, you can read PDF files without installing a PDF reader like Acrobat Reader. It is just a basic PDF reader, comparable to the built-in pdf reader of the Google Chrome browser.

6. Bring Start Menu & Start Button Back

Windows 8 comes without the conventional Start Menu and Start Button. This major design change can be a big annoyance for most users. If you want, then you can get back the Start Menu & Start Button Back to Windows 8 installing any one of the tools below

A) ViStart

Just install this tool and you will have the start Menu, All programs and search features back just like Windows 7.

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While installing Vistart, do a custom install as it tries to install a toolbar and change your default search settings.

B) Start8 by Stardock

Another tool Start8 by Stardock brings the “Start” menu back to Windows 8.  It also enables quick access and search feature for installed applications, Adds Run and Shutdown option via right-click menu along with the ability to choose a custom Start button image instead of the default one.

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7. Access Adminsitrative tools

You can get access to administrative tools instantly just by right clicking by hovering your mouse to the bottom left side of the screen just where the start button used to be there. Checkout the screenshot below which shows access to tools like Programs, Power Options, System, Device Manger, Computer Management and much more.

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8. Restore your System to factory Settings

You can easily restore your system to factory settings using the Reset Feature of Windows 8. It removes everything on the PC except the default System settings just like the Factory state of the system. We have already covered this before and you can read it in detail about it here.

9. Take Screenshots easily

You can easily take screenshots of the system at any instant of time while using any app on it. You need to just press the “Windows key + Print Screen” key simulataneously. The screenshots will be saved automatically under Pictures folder of the System.

10. Use Keyboard Shortcuts

(via: CNET)

Charms

(Charms give you quick access to important Windows 8 features.)

Win+C: All charms
Win+Q: Search charm
Win+H: Share charm
Win: Start charm
Win+K: Devices charm
Win+I: Settings charm

 Search

Win+Q: Search apps
(tip: an even easier way to search apps is to just begin typing from the Start screen)
Win+W: Search settings
Win+F: Search files

 Apps (Metro)

Win+Z: Get to app options
Win+.: Snap app to the left
Win+Shift+.: Snap app to the right
Alt+F4: Close an app

 Desktop

Win+D: Open Desktop
Win+,: Peek at desktop
Win+B: Back to desktop

 Other

Win+X: Open system utility settings menu
Win+PrntScrn: Take screenshot and save to Pictures
Win+Tab: Open switch list
Win+T: Preview open windows in taskbar
Win+U: Open Ease of Access Center
Win+Spacebar: Switch language and keyboard
Win+Enter: Open Windows Narrator

11. Shutdown Windows 8 PC

A) For some, getting the button of shutting down windows 8 can be a daunting task. It is located at a very conventient place. Just click on the setting button which you can get by moving the mouse to almost top right end corner of the screen. In settings screen, just click on the power button and there you will get the option to shutdown your PC.

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B) Another way is to create a Shortcut for Shutdown and reboot for your PC.

Create a shortcut (new->shortcut) on a classic desktop and point it to shutdown.exe -s -t 0 (adding the command). Then just assign a icon to it. You can then pin it on start screen.This button can be used as easy shutdown button.

For Reboot, change the command to shutdown.exe -r -t 0

C) use “Windows key + I” >> Power >> Shutdown.

12. Move mouse cursor horizontally to navigate

Windows 8 start screen or Metro screen moves from left to right and vice-versa just by moving your mouse horizontally without using the scrollbar.

We will keep adding more tips and tricks about Windows 8 here as and when we discover more. IF you discovered something while using it, then do share it with us using the comments below and we may incorporate it here in the post too.

13. Disable or turn-off Auto Sleep Mode

You can disable or turn off the auto sleep mode or auto hibernation feature of Windows 8 by changing the”Plan settings” in  “Power Options ” inside control panel. Just change the option of ” ” Put the computer to sleep” to “Never” or a time period that suits you, may be 4 hours or more. For details you can check out this post.

14. Enable Hibernate Option

You can enable the Hibernate option for Windows 8 again by changing one of the settings “ Change settings that are currently unavailable“ under “Power Options” inside control Panel.

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For more detailed step by step procedure, check earlier blog post.

15. Enable or Disable Aero or Transparency

Right-Click on desktop > Personalize > Window Color > check or Uncheck “Enable transparency”

16. Boot directly to the Desktop instead of Metro start screen

Find  “Shows Desktop” in  C:\Windows\ folder and copy that shortcut to C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. After doing this Windows 8 will boot directly to the Desktop App bypassing the Metro Start Screen.


A Mechanical Design Engineer by profession, but passionate about Computers, software and anything that helps to learn something new or different. Love to do things which i don't know and dive into unknown territories.

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