For most people, the operating system that they use is merely a method to reach the application programs that they want to use.  It is the DVD player.  All they want to do is watch Pirates of the Caribbean.  (Other movie franchises are available!).

When Microsoft released Windows 8, it was clearly aimed at Smartphones and Tablets.  With Tiles to launch programs and features for Touch and Swipe, it is well suited for those devices.

But what about those of us who need to use “old fashioned” Desktop PCs and Laptops?  The familiar Start button is nowhere to be seen, taking with it the menu structure traditionally used for finding and running the software we rely on.

Where are the Desktop and Taskbar that we have lovingly customised in previous versions, so that the computer can be used the way we want to use it?

We are told, “Take your mouse to the corner of the screen”.  These so called Hot Corners are supposed to give us the same control.  They are fiddly at best.

A Better Way

Many people scurried away to find third-party versions of the Start button.  Many simply reverted back to their previous version of Windows.

However, if you learn just a handful of keyboard shortcuts, the beast can be tamed, giving you the same quick control that users of a Touch screen enjoy.

You can unlock this power using the Windows key.  On most keyboards, you will find that key to the left of  Alt.

So what can you do?

    • To get quickly to the Desktop environment, press Windows+D
    • Windows by itself will switch you back to the new Start screen

How can you run a program?  When it was installed, a Tile appeared on the Start screen.  Most likely though, you would want an icon for that program on the Taskbar.

    • Windows+Q opens the Search pane at the Apps section.
    • This lists all the programs installed on your PC.
    • Right-click a program to select it (if you left-click, you will launch the program)
    • Click on Pin to taskbar at the bottom of the screen

If you want to create a shortcut on the Desktop, you will need to use File Explorer to find the relevant file (just like we always did).

Other familiar techniques still work:

    • Alt+Tab can still be used to switch between running programs
    • Alt+F4 still closes the current Program

For those who want to go behind the scenes:

    • Windows+X takes you to a menu of familiar system choices, including Control Panel
    • Windows+C displays the Charms bar (a set of five icons that represent key system functions)

Finally, at the end of a long, tiring day:

    • Windows+I  brings up a Settings pane containing a Power button for Shutdown or Restart

 Being Productive

That is eight keyboard shortcuts.  Use them to take away the frustration that Windows 8 brought to users of  “non-touch” devices.

The free upgrade to Windows 8.1 (due to be released on October 17th) promises the return of the Start button, but until then, these techniques should help you become productive again.

Want to learn more about Taming Windows 8? – please get in touch