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.


2Close Applications

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.


Context Menus

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.


5Library Tools

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.


10Quickly Access

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.


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