If you are new to Windows 8 you will notice that a lot has changed compared to previous versions of Windows. The new start screen with Windows 8-style apps and reformed interface completely overturns the original Start Menu.
On first glance this could be overwhelming even to the experienced PC user, however once you get to grips with Windows 8 you will realise just how easy it is to navigate this system. So in order to get you up and running as quickly as possible, here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started and get the most out of Windows 8.
The Whistle Stop Tour through Windows 8
So, Windows 8 has been installed on your device and a login has been created, you are feeling pretty pleased with yourself until you hit your first obstacle – the lock screen. Although the lock screen looks very colourful and inviting, there are no clues about what to do next. Simply tap a key, click the mouse or swipe upwards on a touchscreen to reveal the familiar login screen – once again you are well on your way.
A new exciting feature of Windows 8 is the ability to create a picture password. If you are bored with the traditional letters and numbers combo or are slowly running out of ideas for password variations, this could be the answer for you. Choose an image and then draw on it in a combination of tabs, lines and circles – only someone who can reproduce this pattern will have access to your login, not only is this more fun but I believe more secure. Give it a try Select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Create a picture password.
Once you have made your way through the security barriers, the Start Screen will appear. Windows 8 boasts colourful tiles and touch friendly apps which have completely revamped the interface. It may look at little daunting at first but with its basic navigation properties you can view all of your apps on a desktop by spinning the mouse wheel to move backwards and forwards. Alternatively, when using a tablet swipe left and right to scroll through the screen.
There are various ways to access your apps. One way is by hovering the mouse over the bottom right corner to reveal the quick access menu which provides lots of useful apps and features such as Device Manager, Control Panel, search capabilities and more.
Although the quick access menu is useful it does not provide access to all of your applications. Finding your applications is simple – to select ‘all apps’ using a desktop hold down the Windows key and press Q, this then exposes a list of all of your installed apps. To get the same results using a touchscreen device swipe your finger from the bottom of the screen upwards.
If however you are on the Start Screen and you are looking for a specific application simply start typing the name of the app. Confused? Let me give you an example. If you are looking for Microsoft Word type ‘word’, Windows will then automatically browse all of your apps and shortlist any of those containing that wording – although this is a quick way to find an app there are other ways to personalise your Start Screen.
If there are certain apps that you use on a regular basis, but want to save time having to constantly access them through the search system, pin these to your start screen for easy access. Search for app (using the instructions above) that you want to pin, once you have located the tile right click and click ‘Pin to Start’. If you are using touchscreen, press and hold the icon, then flick down and select ‘Pin to Start’. The app will then appear directly on the face of the Start Screen so you can access it in a click of a button. Apps can then be arranged in whichever order you prefer by clicking on the tile, holding your finger down and moving to the desired location.
Unpinning an APP
If you no longer want an app to appear on your Start Screen uninstalling is easily. To hide an unused app select ‘Unpin from Start’ and the tile will disappear. Don’t panic, this will not delete the tile altogether and it can always be added to the start screen again at a later stage.
All Windows 8 apps run full screen (this is what Microsoft refer to as ‘immersive’) however, they now also have the ability to run two apps side by side. What is known as the ‘snap feature’ in Windows 8 is automatically enabled for high resolution monitors (resolution is more than or equal to 1280 X 768 pixels). If your monitor has a resolution less than 1280 X 768, then the Snap feature is disabled by default. However, there are two methods by which you can enable the Snap feature on Windows 8 on monitors with low resolution. Once the Snap feature is enabled this is how you can run the two apps side by side.
Windows 8 new File History feature is a built-in back-up tool that by default saves copies every hour of everything in your Libraries (documents, music, pictures and videos), desktop, contacts and favourites. This fantastic feature means you’ll be able to retrieve any previous versions of a file saved at an hourly interval. You can preview earlier versions in the restore dialogue and replace the existing file with the backed up version or save both by choosing ‘compare info for both files’.
There is no need to panic when you realise that Windows 8 apps don’t have any close buttons, once you know what to do, closing an app is easy. To close an app simply move the cursor to the top of the screen and when the pointer turns to a hand drag it down. The app will then have fully closed.
Bear in mind that apps are just suspended when you switch to something else so they’re only a very minimal drain on your system. So, how do you know what’s running? Hold down the Windows key and press Tab to display a pane on the left hand side of the screen. You can then flick through and close down any apps you no longer need.
Shutting Down Windows 8
Even shutting down Windows 8 can be confusing. Once you have closed down all your apps and you are ready to turn off use the quick access menu (hovering the mouse over the bottom right corner). Select the ‘Setting’ icon and the power button will appear, click this and then choose ‘Shut Down’.
We hope that you found this useful, obviously there is so much more to Windows 8 so if you need any more help or advice, post a question in the comments box and we will get back to you shortly. In addition, if you have any handy tricks you would like to share please feel free, we would love to hear from you.
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