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Windows 8 Essential Tips and Tricks
With the wait for Windows 8 finally over, it’s time to shift our attention to how to get Microsoft’s newest operating system working in your favor. In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 useful tips for navigating the new interface, accomplishing advanced tasks, and using keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier.
1Windows Key Shortcuts
Microsoft’s operating systems have always shipped with some built-in keyboard shortcuts that use the Windows key, and Windows 8 is no exception. To execute the following shortcuts, just press the Windows key and the appropriate character key simultaneously.
Windows + X. This shortcut brings up a context menu that lets you quickly access things like the Event Viewer, Device Manager, Command prompt, Task Manager, Control Panel, Run dialog, and Desktop.
Windows + E. This shortcut launches Windows Explorer, making it easy to locate files on your computer, hard drives, or network location.
Windows + F. This shortcut opens the Search utility and defaults to finding document files.
Windows + Q. To quickly find an app you’ve lost track of, just use this shortcut. Windows Accessories, Ease Of Access, and Windows System utilities are also indexed here.
Windows + W. This shortcut also launches the search utility, but it helps you find settings menus, such as Devices, Privacy, and Notifications. It also lets you search for how to perform specific tasks, such as Add Printer, Connect To A Network, or Customize Your Account Picture.
Windows + C. You can quickly access Windows 8’s Charms menu (Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings) by dragging your mouse cursor to the bottom-right corner of the screen. If your hands are already on the keyboard, however, this shortcut will also display the Charms.
One of the fastest ways to close an application in Windows 8 is to simply grab it at the top of the window using your mouse, and then drag it down and off the bottom of the screen.
3 Do More With Windows Explorer
Microsoft is shipping a significantly tweaked Windows Explorer in Windows 8. To access Windows Explorer, press Windows key + E, then click the chevron icon from the upper-right corner of the window to access the File, Home, Share, and View menus.
4Change View In
Windows Explorer The two icons in the bottomright of the Windows Explorer window let you quickly switch between Details and Large Thumbnail views. The other views are still accessible as well; just click View and then choose an option from the Layout section, such as Extra Large Icons, List, and Small Icons.
Windows Explorer in Windows 8 features a number of context menus that only appear if you’re viewing a certain type of folder or drive location, or have selected certain file types, such as audio files, images, or applications. These context menus appear at the top of Windows Explorer and let you perform various file-specific actions. The menu tabs are brightly colored, so be on the lookout for them as you explore your files and folders.
Libraries in Windows 8 are used to group files of a given type, for instance, Music, Documents, and Videos. When you navigate your Libraries in Windows Explorer, you’ll find a purple Library Tools menu option appear at the top of the screen. Click Manage to perform various Library- specific tasks, such as Set Save Location, Show In Navigation Pane, and Restore Settings.
6Recycle Bin Tools
When you view the Recycle Bin from Win8’s Windows Explorer, you’ll have access to the Recycle Bin Tools. Click Manage under this tab to access functions such as Empty Recycle Bin, Recycle Bin Properties, Restore All Items, and Restore Selected items.
7Show Hidden Files
As with Windows 7, you can configure Windows 8’s Windows Explorer to display hidden file types, but the procedure for enabling this feature is a little different. Start by launching Windows Explorer by pressing the Windows key and the E key simultaneously. Next click View, and then put a checkmark in the box adjacent to Hidden Items to display the folders and files hidden by default.
8Quickly Access Drive Tools
If you want to quickly optimize (defrag), format, or clean up a drive on your Windows 8 machine, just launch Windows Explorer (Windows key + E) and select the drive or Computer from the left pane. This displays the Drive Tools toolbar at the top of the window. Just click Manage to access these handy functions.
9Quickly Access BitLocker
In Win8 If you want to encrypt a folder or file, you’ll typically use Windows Explorer to navigate to the drive first. Helpfully, Microsoft has added a BitLocker (Microsoft’s folder encryption utility) shortcut to Windows Explorer. Simply click the drive you want to encrypt, click Manage from the top of the window, click BitLocker, and then select Turn On BitLocker. You can also enable BitLocker from the context menu that appears whenever you rightclick a drive or location.
Common Networking Tasks Windows Explorer features a Computer context menu that you can access by double-clicking the Computer icon from the Win8 Desktop. Click the Computer tab to see a list of the available Location, Network, and System functions you can perform. The Network functions include Access Media, Map Network Drive, and Add A Network Location.
Wireless Router Installation
Setting up and securing a wireless router in your office is something anyone can do. Here, we’ll take you step-by-step through the physical installation and setup of a wireless router.
Start by disconnecting the device that is currently connected to your cable or DSL modem. If you don’t already have a network, this is likely a PC. If you’re upgrading a network, this is likely the old router.
Power off your cable or DSL modem.
Run an Ethernet cable from the cable or DSL modem to the router’s WAN (wide-area network) port. Note that it’s best to locate a wireless router in the middle of a home or office, if possible, so that the signal will reach all of your devices. To move the router, you may need to move the cable or DSL modem, or locate a stretch of Ethernet cable that’s long enough to reach the spot where you want to place the wireless router.
Connect one end of an Ethernet cable to the LAN port on the router and connect the other end to a PC with a wired Ethernet connection, because you’ll need a wired connection to access and configure the wireless router.
Attach the power adapter to the router, and plug the power adapter into a wall outlet. In some cases, you may also need to switch the router on. Also, you can now power on your cable or DSL modem. Wait a minute or two until both the router and modem have booted up.
Turn on the computer that’s connected to the router and open your Web browser. Reference the router’s users manual to find the address you need to enter to make changes to the router’s configuration. Typically, the Web address will be something similar to http://192.168.10.1. Once you open the configuration utility, you’ll need to enter a username and password, the defaults for which are generally “admin.” Note that you can (and should) change the username and password within the router’s settings, so that only you will be able to alter the router’s configuration.
You should now have access to the router’s configuration utility. Start by setting up your Internet connection with the information that was provided by your ISP. Many routers offer a setup wizard area; from here you can click through the most common options to quickly configure your router. After you’ve entered the data, you’ll likely need to reboot the router for the settings to take effect.
Most routers begin broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal by default, but you’ll want to alter the settings with a network name and password that’s known only to employees and guests. To protect your network, it’s wise to encrypt it. Typically, these settings should be listed under a Wi- Fi or wireless settings area where you’ll change the network name. To change the network name, look for the SSID Service Set Identifier) field. Enter the name of the network you prefer, such as your business’s name or something that will help employees easily figure out what network they should join. As an extra security measure, consider setting the system so that it does not broadcast the SSID, in which case your employees (or family) will have to manually enter the name when they (or you) set up their computers to connect to the wireless network.
Next, configure the network’s encryption protocol. There are three common encryption standards: WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), or WPA2. WPA2 is generally considered the strongest encryption method, and WPAPSK (pre-shared key) allows you to use a memorable password, rather than a long, random string of numbers and letters. To set up Wi-Fi encryption, choose the standard you want to use and enter the password into the available fields. Whatever you choose, come up with a good way to remember the network name and key or write it down (keep it in a secure location if you do so) to make it easy to give it to employees and important clients who need Wi-Fi access.
Now, you should be able to see and access the network on your office computers. If service still seems to be spotty or slow, check with your employees about what Web applications they are using during the workday. For example, video conferencing or social networking tools occasionally take up extra bandwidth, although they can be useful for meeting and interacting with clients and customersremotely.
When Your System Won’t Boot
Few computer problems are more frustrating than a system that won’t boot. Your best lifeline, the Internet, is inaccessible, you often don’t have an error message to give you a clue, and the software menus to which you do have access may be unfamiliar and difficult to navigate and decipher.
The best way to troubleshoot the problem is to try the most common fixes first and then work your way down to the less common fixes.
Recent Hardware Changes
If your system reboots immediately after you start your computer, that’s often an indication of a hardware problem. If you recently installed anything, such as a new storage device, processor, or memory module, check to see that you installed it as instructed. Remember to exercise caution when working inside your computer: Turn it off, unplug it, and then touch a part of the case frame to dissipate static electricity. The first thing to do is to ensure that your memory modules are properly seated. It’s also a good idea to check that every hard drive or SSD in the system has both power and data cables firmly connected. Be sure to check the processor heatsink to make sure it’s installed and held firmly in place and that the graphics card (if present) is fully inserted into its slot and any external power ports are connected to the power supply. Make sure all the motherboard power ports are connected, as well; most motherboards require a 24-pin power connector on the right edge of the board and a 4- or 8-pin power connection toward the top of the motherboard.
Back To The BIOS
If the settings in the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) have become unstable, resetting it may solve the problem. To do this, restart your computer and immediately press the designated key that lets you access the BIOS. This key varies from computer to computer, but often it appears onscreen during the boot process. The DELETE, ESC, F1, or F2 keys are all common. Once in the BIOS setup utility, try loading the Optimized Defaults, save the settings, and restart. If your computer still fails, re-enter the BIOS and load the Fail-Safe Defaults. If you can’t even access the BIOS, then you may need to reset the CMOS (complementary metaloxide semiconductor), which retains your computer’s BIOS settings. Consult your motherboard or computer manual for the location of the CMOS jumper, which you can temporarily move between the three pins on the motherboard to perform the reset. After about 10 seconds, move the jumper back and try restarting.
The Safe Mode Or System Restore Options
Try to boot your computer into Safe Mode by restarting your computer and pressing the F8 key as it attempts to boot up. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight the Safe Mode option and then press ENTER. If you have more than one OS installed on your system, you may need to select the OS you want to boot into Safe Mode. If your computer boots successfully into Safe Mode, then the issue may have been resolved, so attempt a normal reboot. If the problem persists, try a System Restore: Re-enter Safe Mode, click Start, type system restore, and then press ENTER. Use this wizard to use a Restore Point to reclaim access to your PC. Be sure to select a point prior to the day on which you began having trouble.
Delete Internet Junk
The data that accumulates in our Web browser’s history, such as cookies and temp files, is one of the biggest contributors to the “junk” files that slow down our computers. Fortunately, there are easy ways to lean out the browsing history in today’s Web browsers, and we’ll show you how.
In Internet Explorer 9, select the Tools button (it looks like a gear and is located next to the Home and favorites buttons) and click Internet Options. Click the Delete button under Browsing History and you’ll see a list of items that IE9 automatically saves, such as Temporary Internet Files, History, and Passwords. If you’re looking to save space, ensure that check marks are placed in the Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, and History checkboxes. Categories such as Form Data and Passwords save information that you’ve entered into previously visited websites, so they are designed to speed up your Web experience and may best be left unchecked. Similarly, IE9 also features a Preserve Favorites option that allows IE9 to retain the cookies and temporary files for those websites in your Favorites list to help those Web pages load faster. Consider checking this box to speed up your overall Web experience. Once you’ve made your checkbox selections, click the Delete button and IE9 will remove the files and information. Note that the temporary Internet Files folder may contain a large amount of data, so it could take a few minutes to finish the task.
To clear out Firefox 9, select the Tools menu (you may need to press the ALT button to temporarily bring up the Menu Bar) and click Clear Recent History. At the top of the resulting window, Firefox provides a Time Range To Clear drop-down box, where you can choose from Everything, Last Hour, Last Two Hours, Last Four Hours, and Today. Under Details, you’ll find checkboxes for the various types of data that Firefox saves. The key space hog categories in Firefox are the Cookies and Cache items, so you’ll want to ensure they are checked. Items such as Active Logins and Site Preferences help Firefox to expedite the loading of your most often-visited websites, so you may want to remove the checkboxes from those options. To delete the data, click the Clear Now button.
With Google Chrome 16, you clear data by clicking the Wrench icon, which is located next to the Address bar on the browser toolbar. Click Tools and select Clear Browsing Data. The pop-up window offers you an Obliterate The Following Items From dropdown menu where you can delete data from the past hour, day, week, month, or all Chrome files. By default, Chrome places checkboxes in the Clear Browsing History, Clear Download History, Empty The Cache, and Delete Cookies And Other Site And Plug-in Data, which are wise choices for those who want to free up storage. The Clear Saved Passwords and Clear Saved Autofill Form Data are unchecked, and you may want to keep the data, because it helps to quicken the load times of your most commonly accessed websites. Click the Clear Browsing Data button to remove the files you selected.
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