Hey friends,

i guess you liked the part 1…

so herez for you that Windows 8 tips, tricks and secrets [ part 2 ].

🙂 hope you enjoy.

21. Replacing the Start menu

If Windows 8’s search and navigation tools still leave you pining for the regular Start menu, installing ViStart will replace it with something very similar.

Download the program and install it, carefully; it’s free, but the Setup program will install the trial of a commercial Registry cleaner unless you explicitly tell it otherwise.

But once that’s out the way, your old Start button will return in its regular place, and clicking it (or pressing the Windows key) will bring back the usual Start menu complete with search box and all the usual menus.

The program has a few flaws – on launch it gave us an E-mail icon for “Outlook Express”, for instance – but otherwise works well.

There’s also Start8 from Windows customisation veterans Stardock. It provides similar functionality to ViStart but with a more up-to-date look.

Windows 8 tips

22. Windows key shortcuts

The Windows Metro interface is a major change, and it’ll probably take quite some time before you’re familiar and comfortable with the new way of working. In the meantime, though, mastering the various Windows key shortcuts could save you a great deal of time and hassle.

  • Win : switch between the Start screen and the last-running Metro app
  • Win + C : displays the “Charms”: the Settings, Devices, Share and Search options
  • Win + D : launches the desktop
  • Win + E : launches Explorer
  • Win + F : opens the File Search pane
  • Win + H : opens the Share pane
  • Win + I : opens Settings
  • Win + K : opens the Devices pane
  • Win + L : locks your PC
  • Win + M : minimises the current Explorer or Internet Explorer window (works in the full-screen Metro IE, too)
  • Win + O : toggles device orientation lock on and off
  • Win + P : switch your display to a second display or projector
  • Win + Q : open the App Search pane
  • Win + R : opens the Run box
  • Win + U : open the Ease of Access Centre
  • Win + V : cycle through toasts (notifications)
  • Win + W : search your system settings (type POWER for links to all power-related options, say)
  • Win + X : displays a text menu of useful Windows tools and applets
  • Win + Z : displays the right-click context menu when in a full-screen Metro app
  • Win + + : launch Magnifier and zoom in
  • Win + – : zoom out
  • Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
  • Win + Enter : launch Narrator
  • Win + PgUp : Move the current Metro screen to the left-hand monitor
  • Win + PgDn : Move the current Metro screen to the right-hand monitor
  • Win + PrtSc : capture the current screen and save it to your Pictures folder
  • Win + Tab : switch between running Metro apps

23. Launch programs fast

If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts and don’t like the idea of scrolling through Metro tiles to find the program you need, don’t worry, Windows 8 still supports a useful old shortcut. Which is perfect if, say, you’re looking to be able to shut down your PC with a click.

Launch the desktop app, right-click an empty part of the desktop and click New > Shortcut.

Browse to the application you’d like to launch here. Of for the sake of this example, enter

shutdown.exe -s -t 00

to shut down your PC, or

shutdown.exe -h -t 00

to hibernate it, and click Next. Type a shortcut name – Hibernate, say – and click Finish.

Right-click the shortcut, select Pin to Start and it should appear on the far right of the Metro screen – just drag the tile wherever you like.

24. Intelligent screengrabs

If a Metro application is showing something interesting and you’d like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won’t just go to the clipboard: it’ll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on).

You might hope that pressing Win+Alt+PrtSc would similarly save an image of the active window, but no, sadly not. Maybe next time.

25. Photo Viewer

Double-click an image file within Explorer and it won’t open in a Photo Viewer window any more, at least not by default. Instead you’ll be switched to the full-screen Metro Photos app, bad news if you thought you’d escaped such hassles by using the desktop.

If you’d like to fix this, go to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs and select Set your default programs.

Scroll down and click Windows Photo Viewer in the Programs list.

Finally, click “Set this program as default” if you’d like the Viewer to open all the file types it can handle, or select the “Choose default” options if you prefer to specify which file types it should open. Click OK when you’re done.

Windows 8 tips

26. SmartScreen

Windows 8 now uses IE’s SmartScreen system-wide, checking downloaded files to ensure they’re safe. In general this is a good thing, but if you have any problems then it can be tweaked.

Launch Control Panel, open the Action Centre applet, and click Change Windows SmartScreen Settings in the left-hand pane. Here you can keep the warning, but avoid the requirement for administrator approval, or turn SmartScreen off altogether. Make your choice and click OK to finish.

27. Windows 8 File History

Windows 8 includes an excellent File History feature, which can regularly and automatically back up your libraries, desktop, contacts and favourites to a second drive (even a USB flash drive – just connect it, and choose “Configure this drive for backup using File History” from the menu).

To set this up, go to Control Panel > System and Security > File History. Click Exclude Folders to help define what you’re saving, Advanced Settings to choose the backup frequency, Change Drive to choose the backup destination, and Turn On to enable the feature with your settings.

And once it’s been running for a while, you can check on the history for any file in Explorer by selecting it, choosing the Home tab and clicking History.

Windows 8 tips

28. VHD – enhanced

Windows 7 added support for creating and attaching virtual hard drives in Microsoft’s VHD format. Now Windows 8 extends this with the new VHDX format, which improves performance, extends the maximum file size from 2 to 16TB, and makes the format “more resilient to power failure events” (so they shouldn’t get corrupted as easily). Launch the Computer Management Control Panel applet, choose Disk Management, and click Actions > Create VHD to give the format a try.

29. Storage Spaces

If you have multiple hard drives packed with data then you’ll know that managing them can be a hassle. But that’s all about to change with a new Windows 8 Consumer Preview feature, Storage Spaces.

The idea is that you can take all your hard drives, whether connected via USB, SATA or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), and add them to a storage pool. And you can then create one or more spaces within this pool, formatting and accessing them as a single drive, so you’ve only one drive letter to worry about.

What’s more, the technology can also maximise your performance by spreading files across multiple drives (the system can then access each chunk simultaneously). There’s an option to mirror your files, too, so even if one disk fails your data remains safe. And if your Storage Space begins to fill up then just plug in another drive, add it to the pool and you can carry on as before.

Yes, we know, this is just a consumer-friendly take on RAID. But there’s nothing wrong with that, and it looks promising. If you’d like to read up on the technical details then the official Windows 8 blog has more, and you can then create and manage your drive pool from the new Control Panel\System and Security “Storage Spaces” applet.

Windows 8 tips

30. Virtual Machines

Install Windows 8 and you also get Microsoft’s Hyper-V, allowing you to create and run virtual machines (as long as you’re not running in a virtual machine already). Launch OptionalFeatures.exe, check Hyper-V and click OK to enable the feature. Then switch back to Metro, scroll to the right, find and click on the Hyper-V Manager tile to begin exploring its capabilities.

31. Smart Searching

When you’re in the mood to track down new Windows 8 features relating to a particular topic, you might be tempted to start by manually browsing Control Panel for interesting applets – but there is a simpler way.

If you’d like to know what’s new in the area of storage, say, just press Win+W to launch the Settings Search dialog, type drive , and the system will return a host of related options. That is, not just those with “drive” in the name, but anything storage-related: BitLocker, Device Manager, backup tools, disk cleanup, and interesting new features like Storage Spaces.

This Search feature isn’t new, of course, but it’s easy to forget how useful this can be, especially when you’re trying to learn about a new operating system. So don’t just carry out specific searches, use the Apps search to look for general keywords such as “privacy” or “performance”, and you just might discover something new.

Windows 8 tips

32. Start screen background

If you’d like to change your lock, user tile or start screen images then press Win + I, click “More PC settings” and choose the Personalize option. Browse the various tabs and you’ll be able to choose alternative images or backgrounds in a click or two. And in theory you’ll also be able to define apps that will display their status on the lock screen, although the app must specifically support this before it’ll be accessible from your Personalize settings.

Windows 8 tips

33. Scheduled Maintenance

Windows 8 Consumer Preview will now run common maintenance tasks – software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics and more at a scheduled convenient time, which is good.

Unfortunately it doesn’t actually ask you what time is convenient, instead just setting it to 3am and allowing the system to wake your computer (if hardware and circumstances permit) to do its work. Which isn’t so good.

To change this, launch Control Panel, click System and Security > Action Centre > Maintenance. You can now click “Start maintenance” to launch any outstanding tasks right now, while selecting “Change maintenance settings” enables you to choose a more convenient time, and optionally disable the feature’s ability to wake up your computer if that’s not required.

34. Picture password

Windows 8 allows you to create a picture password, where you choose an image, then draw on it in a combination of taps, lines and circles – only someone who can reproduce this pattern will be able to log on. Select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Create a Picture Password to give this a try.

Windows 8 tips

35. Hibernate or Sleep

You won’t necessarily see either Hibernate or Sleep in the Windows 8 shutdown dialogs, but if that’s a problem then you may be able to restore them.

Launch the Control Panel Power Options applet (powercfg.cpl) and click “Choose what the power buttons do” in the left-hand pane.

If you see a “Change settings that are current unavailable” link, then click it, and if Windows 8 detects that your PC supports Sleep and Hibernate options then they’ll be displayed here. Check the boxes next to whatever you’d like to use, click Save Changes, and the new options should now appear in your shutdown dialogs.

36. Simplify Search

By default Windows 8 includes every bundled app in its Search results. If you’ll never want to use some of these – the Store app, say – then select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Search, choose which apps you don’t want included, and your search list will be more manageable in future.

37. Touch Keyboard

By default the Touch Keyboard will try to help you out by, for instance, playing sounds as you type, capitalising the first letter of each sentence, adding a period if you double-tap the spacebar, and more. If any of this gets in your way, though, you can turn the relevant feature off: just go to Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > General and customise the keyboard to suit your needs.

38. Sync and privacy

One very useful Windows 8 feature is its ability to synchronise your settings with other PCs and devices. So if you’ve set up your new Windows Phone mobile with your contacts, email details etc, then use the same Live account on Windows 8 and it’ll import them for you: very convenient.

Of course that may not always be a good idea. If several people use a device then you may not want your website passwords to be synced, for instance. In which case you’ll want to hold down the Windows key and press I, then click More PC Settings > Sync Your Settings and disable anything which you’d rather not share.

end of part 2

BUT WAIT…THERE is STILL MORE IN  [ PART  3 ]

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

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