Getting to Know Windows - Using Windows 8.1: Return of the Start Button (2014)

Using Windows 8.1: Return of the Start Button (2014)

Chapter 2. Getting to Know Windows

The Start Screen

Once you have logged on, you will be greeted with the Start screen. The Start screen is made up of an arrangement of colorful tiles, with each tile representing an application. You click (or tap) the tile to run the app.


A Closer Look at the Start Screen

You can view all applications by moving your mouse to the bottom of the screen. A small "down" arrow will appear.

The Start screen also has some hidden menus—the Recently Opened Apps menu on the top left reveals all apps that are currently open.

The top-right corner reveals the Charms Bar for settings and options.


The Desktop

The desktop is where all your apps, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop, run and allow you to work.

The desktop hasn’t really changed much since the initial release of Windows 8. There are a few tweaks to the Library window (shown here) as well as the addition of a Start button.


To get back to the Start screen from the desktop, press the Windows key on your keyboard. This is usually in the bottom row. Another option is to click the Start button on the left-hand side of the screen.


For Diehard Desktop Fans

Specifically aimed at point-and-click desktop users, Windows 8.1 allows you to boot directly to the desktop and to change the way the Start screen acts to make it less intrusive.

Here's how. Make your way to your desktop and right click on an empty area of the taskbar, then click Properties. Next select the Navigation tab.


Another feature I find useful is "Show the Apps view automatically when I go to start."


If you tick this box, your Start screen will appear as a list of apps. This is useful if you have a lot of applications installed.

The rest of the options on this tab do not provide any real benefit and are best left as they are.

The Taskbar

The taskbar shows applications that are currently open. It can also be used for pinning shortcuts to favorite applications, such as Internet Explorer, for quick access.

On the right-hand side of the taskbar is the area known as the system tray. The system tray contains miniature icons for easy access to system functions such as the printer, volume, clock, and any system messages or alerts. Click on an icon to view and access the details and controls.



Charms is a new feature introduced in Windows 8 that gives you access to Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings.

Move the mouse to the upper-right corner of your screen to see the charms. When the charms appear, move up or down the edge to click the one you want.


The Snap Feature

A feature I find helpful in windows 8 is the ability to snap different applications side by side as you are working. Thus, you could have Microsoft Word running on one side of your screen and Internet Explorer running next to it.


Drag the window to the left-hand side of the screen until the black screen divider appears, then release your mouse.


Click your mouse in the very bottom-left corner of the screen to get back to the Start screen, then click on the other application you want. For example, Microsoft Word, as shown in the following screen.


This can be done with any Windows application. It makes working with two different applications easier as you no longer have to toggle between them.

You can see in the following example a bit of research on Planet Earth using online encyclopedias and Microsoft Word side by side.