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We've assembled a list of our favorite Windows 8 shortcuts, tricks, and workarounds. Many focus on making the most of the OS on a traditional desktop PC, so if you're interested in touch gestures, please check out our article that focuses directly on the Windows 8 touch experience. Windows 8 hotkey commands. In these key combinations, hold down the Windows key normally located between Alt and Ctrl and another key, as described on this list.

The Start Screen is full of nice, big, chunky tiles that represent all your apps. The tiles are easy to see in small groups, but what if you have hundreds of apps installed? Most will be hidden from view, unless you want to do a lot of scrolling. Enter the new semantic zoom feature. And the feature is also available to mouse and keyboard users: Simply hold down the Ctrl button, and use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

Your Start screen can become a cluttered mess if you collect too many apps and other elements that have been pinned to the screen as tiles, so take advantage of built-in organization tools that let you divide everything into labeled groups. First, drag all the tiles you want to assign to a single group to the far right-hand side of your Start screen in vacant territory; the OS should sequester the tiles together. Once you're satisfied with your assembly, use semantic zoom described above to get a bird's eye view of your desktop.

Now right-click the group or simply drag down on it , and select the "Name group" option on the left of the bar that appears below. Type in the name, and enjoy your newly organized Start screen! You should also check out our full review for an overview.


  1. Employ the hottest hotkeys we know.
  2. Ultimate Windows 8 starter guide: Must-know tips, apps and utilities.
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Here comes the deep dive that'll make your Windows 8 life a million times better. Windows 8 looks drastically different from what you're used to. Those colors! Those tiles! While we're big fans of the overhaul, you may long for the Windows desktop of old.

Got a new PC over Christmas? Check these top tricks to help you maximise productivity.

Don't worry; Microsoft built an ejector seat specifically for people like you. Press it again, and you'll clear all the windows to show the desktop you've spent the last two decades getting comfortable with. Press it once more and your fancy tiled windows come back.

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A four-fingered vertical swipe also accomplishes this, but we found the keyboard shortcut a little easier. A lot of the default apps in Windows 8 will shoot you into a Live app—and out of the desktop environment. To remedy this, you just have to right click on any file of the type you want, and mouse over the Open with option. From there, select Choose default program You'll be able to select whether any app opens in Windows 8 or desktop.

If you set all your file types to desktop apps, you'll never get booted out of desktop for anything, and you can enjoy all of the other benefits of Windows 8, like its smaller footprint and better performance. With Windows 8, a lot of apps are going to have two versions for you to choose from, or, often, that you can run at the same time.

2. Put a quick-and-dirty Start menu on the taskbar

If you do choose to embrace Windows 8 in all its tiled goodness—and you really should—the first trouble you're going to run into is fluidly switching between apps. Your programs will now open full screen, which means going back and forth is more complicated than just clicking around. So here's how to get around:. Your New Most Used But Kinda Clumsy Gesture: You can zoom through Metro apps while multitasking easily enough just by swiping or clicking in the top left corner, if you're on a mouse , but there's one problem: It can be a crap shoot which app you're going to get, since there's no visual reference point about what's coming up next, and in what order.

The gesture to get around this isn't super obvious. If you're using a touchscreen, pull from the left side of the screen, like you're going to yank an app over for that fast-change multitask, but then shove it back to the left. This brings up the Windows 8 app selector, where only Windows 8 apps are shown, with the desktop environment being a single app. As far as we can tell, this doesn't work on trackpads at least the ones we've used.

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Once you used to it, though, it's actually a more natural way to access multitasking than iOS, and a little easier than Android since you don't have to reach for a button—it's just always on the left side of your screen. Alt Tab vs. Start Tab: This is another big difference. One of the best things about Windows 8 is that it adds an incredible amount of functionality to your arsenal with swipes and taps. You know, gestures. But if you don't have a touchscreen or a compatible trackpad, here's how you can still take advantage of all the new shortcuts.

Microsoft calls them "hot corners," but they're basically just mouse-friendly maneuvers:. Start: Mouse to the bottom left corner, left click the tile. Power User Navigation: If you right click the bottom left popup instead of left clicking it, you'll get options for a host of commands, like opening Task Manager or Control Panel, or individual settings like Power Options or Device Manager. Multitask Quick Swap: Mouse to the top left corner and left click it You can also right click to close or snap left or right Multitask Bar: Mouse to the top left corner, then slide your cursor down the left side of the screen.

Right click closes or snaps left or right here as well Charms: Mouse to the top or bottom right corner. Close Live App: Click the top-center of the app and drag it to the bottom of the screen. Mouse to the bottom right corner and leave the cursor there.

Windows tips & tricks: 13 ways to increase productivity | IT PRO

The weird thing about Windows 8 in its Modern formerly Metro interface is that while it's meant to be touched, and gestures are enabled on most trackpads, using a mouse with it is surprisingly great. So good, in fact, that using the scroll wheel to zoom around the horizontal areas and right clicking and using keyboard shortcuts is easier than dealing with trackpad drivers a lot of times.

Go figure. If you like the new Start screen, but you just want to use it as a hub and do all the rest of your work in Desktop mode, you can use it as, basically, a fancy app launcher, widget hub with Live Tiles , and favorites hub by yanking out all of the tiles that would open a separate Live app. You do this just by right-clicking a desktop app and selecting Pin to Start. This is a good tip to use in conjunction with picking new default non-Modern apps. You can also keep just one or two Live apps there, and use them as your Snap apps. That will also have the added bonus of making the fast-swap gesture more usable since it would always be the same thing.

A lot of people rely heavily on Google services for their PC life. Google's made it easy to maintain those services—and replace their default Microsoft equivalents in Windows 8—by making a landing page called getyourgoogleback. From there you can easily download the Google Search app and Chrome, and stick them on your Start screen. You can run a regular local account on Windows 8, but it's definitely worth your time to set up a Microsoft account.

All that requires is a Hotmail, Live, Outlook, or other Microsoft email address. From there, just enter your account email, or you'll be given the option of creating one. A new subhead will now appear in PC Settings called Sync your settings. You can pick out which kinds of settings you want to sync. It's worth your while, especially since it'll save you the trouble of having to sign in each and every time you try to access Xbox Music, the Windows Store, etc.

Windows 8 turns on the lock screen by default, which is probably for the best. But if you'd rather not deal with it, you can disable it, and launch right into the screen you left off at. Type "netplwiz" into the start screen, and launch the app that comes up.