How to enhance your Windows 8 Experience – Managing Your Navigation

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How to enhance your Windows 8 Experience – Managing Your Navigation

Like This Blog 1 Steve Fullmer
Added by December 21, 2012

You are about to start your new year with Windows 8. Some new rules have been set for you. Time for a few resolutions. Perhaps “I commit to learning how to effectively navigate Windows 8!”

Did some information gathering to help you more easily keep your resolution.

You might want to go back and print a blog that I wrote last summer covering Windows 8 shortcut keys Windows 7 versus Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts.  Regular use of Windows 8 now requires the hotkeys. I am not sure hot touch screen users even efficiently manager Windows 8 without hotkeys?   

You don’t just want to learn the keys, though. You want to manage the behaviors within the range that Microsoft provides so that you don’t give up too soon.

Some pointers.

Start panel icons come in only two sizes. A large rectangle and a small square. Right click on the application icon. An option panel appears at the bottom that allows you to:

  • Make it Smaller (the square) or Larger (the rectangle)
  • Turn off live notifications for the app. Don’t want the local or network overhead to constantly refresh the content in the app icon, then turn it off.
  • Unpin it from the start screen. It will still appear in the all apps menu or via search.
  • Uninstall the app. Be careful before you do attempt this one.Adding and removing programs and features is different in Windows 8. If you disable some features, you need special permissions to retrieve the feature/app from a recovery image or network repair location.

If the option does not appear at the panel, you cannot change the characteristics for that particular charm.

How do you close an app you launch from the start screen? In general, you don’t need to close them. Unused applications shut down over time. (There are a number of idle/timeout options available to developers, and they are usually in the Windows 8 application rather than in the system configuration. There is no general system setting for Start menu application timeout that I could find.) If you want to close the application due to resource constraints or personal preference, follow these steps:

  • hover your mouse in the top left corner.
  • When the desktop icon appears, swipe down the left side of the screen.
  • An icon for each running application appears.
  • You may right (alt) click on the icon for the option to close it.

The Windows 8 Task Manager is new and enhanced. This is not the preferred way shut down applications launched via the Start menu. As a potential subject for more than one blog, reserve the use of Task Manager for applications running within the desktop for the time being.

How do you group charms on the desktop? Click and hold a charm you want to move, drag it to another group. To create a new group, click and hold a charm then drag it to the space to the left or right of another group. Really, almost any open space on the start screen (or screens since the Windows 8 screen automatically extends beyond the horizontal margins of your monitor). It is best to stay between the groups, to avoid the corner menus and Charm bar. When a light/transparent vertical panel appears, release the charm. You have now created a new group. Continue to drag and drop charms until you have them in the groups you prefer.

How do you label start groups? Refer to a short picture blog. Windows 8: Create and label groups to organize the Metro Start screen The trick here is tapping or clicking in the right place. It will take some practice.  Suggestion – Set aside and hour.  Read the blog referenced in the preceding link. Think about the toolsets you might like on Windows 8, even before you have them all. Then set to work experimenting by creating the groups you would ultimately like on your desktop.  This exercise works much better if you have a goal rather than just testing the interface.

How to control Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard?

Lewis Leong wrote a great, short summary article Windows 8 Guide: How to control Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard. Check out his advice. Practice works when you know where to focus.

How do you lock the desktop in Windows 8?

You can set an idle or security timeout. Though I like to lock my screen before I walk away from my office or at the end of the day, without sitting and watching for a screensaver or challenge screen to appear. There is no default ‘desktop lock’ key in Windows 8. You need to add/remove a registry setting to enable/disable keystroke based desktop locking. The default keystroke combination will become Windows+D. You are actually changing the behavior of the default Windows 8 key that launches the desktop. If you make the change, you will become dependent on using the Start menu or corner pop-ups to get to the desktop.  The Windows +D key will lock your screen. For more see Windows EightForums.

What is the Windows 8 Lock Screen?

Windows 8 has its own lock screen. Windows 8 Feature Focus: Lock Screen. You can modify the behavior with the Charm bar, PC Settings, Personalize, Lock Screen.  In particular, you can display application updates from selected applications on the screen while the device is locked.

Don’t like the lock screen on a desktop and want to disable one more login step?

Although disabling the lock screen is refer2enced in the preceding blog, Greg Shultz tells you how in more detail. It’s a local group policy setting change. Disable the Lock screen in Windows 8 forever.

The start pearl is gone, but you want your start menu back.

Although it is a bit of work, Greg also offers a solution to change your start screen to a start menu of sorts. Make the Windows 8 Start Screen work like the Start Menu. You can create your own, icon-based alternative. The days of hierarchical text based lists of choices on a start menu are gone. Can’t help you with that one.

If you try at least a few of these items, your Windows 8 navigation experience should be at least a little easier.

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

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