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Account
Apps

Charms
Desktop

Tiles
Shortcut Keys
Skydrive
Snap
Startup
Store
Windows 8.1
Media Player

Account

Resistance is futile. You'll need a Microsoft account when using Windows 8 to get to the Store. Sign up at https://login.live.com. You don't need to create a new email address, you can use an existing one if you like.

Bypass the login screen by typing the command "netplwiz" on the Start Screen (tile) screen. Un-check "Users must enter a username and password to use this computer." Enter your password twice. OK. Restart.

Apps

Windows 8 installs default apps such as Mail, News, Calendar, Finance, Sports,People, Photos, Travel and Reader. These are the large tiles you see on your Start Screen. If you haven't updated to Windows 8.1, the apps open full screen with no apparent way to close. Move your mouse to the top of the screen until the hand appears, then click and drag to the bottom of the screen and release to close the app.

Change Your Default Apps

Make changes to the default apps or programs you wish to use through the Control Panel. Open the Charms Bar, Settings, Control Panel. Change the View in the upper-right of the Control Panel to Large Icons to have a more comprehensive view. Choose the Default Programs icon. Choose Associate a file type or protocol with a program. My first change was to find .pdf in the list. Then click the Change program... button allowing me to switch from the Microsoft Reader to my preferred Adobe Acrobat. I also changed .jpg and .jpeg to open with Windows Photo Viewer rather than the Photos App.

Another method is to right-click a file and choose Open with, then Choose default program.

Default Mail App

The default email app does NOT support POP3 email protocol. It supports IMAP. That's an important distinction. IMAP is for accessing mail located and stored on a server. Many users prefer to download their mail to their own computer using POP3 The solution for those folks is to download Windows Live Mail which is part of the Windows Essentials bundle.

Weather App

Don't miss playing with the Weather app. You can add multiple places. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the forcasts and maps. Be sure to use the horizontal scroll at the bottom to see the good stuff.

Customize Your Apps

news app image

Start with the News App. It's a "live" tile which displays updated information. Control your preferred news categories and sources. Click the tile to open, then right-click anywhere on your screen to bring up your options. Your looking for customize which is a moving target depending on your version and upgrades. There are a wealth of choices for news sources you'll enjoy. Want to get rid of a category? Just click it's X button. Don't forget to add Sections to keep up with what interests you most.

mutitask_tumbnails

Switching Between Apps

If you have more than one app open you can switch between them. Slide to the upper-left of your screen or choose the Windows key and Tab, then pull down to show a thumbnail of each open app. Continued clicking cycles between open apps. You can click an app thumbnail to make it active or drage the thumbnail to your screen allowing you to have multiple apps AND control the amount of your screen that is used. You'll love it! This is also how you can shut off a program. Right-click on the thumbnail and choose Close.

Charms Bar

The Charms bar pulls out from the right side of your screen and is key when navigating the Windows 8 environment. It is a set of five icons that represent basic functions: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. You access the Charmsbar by moving or hovering your mouse to the upper or lower right corners of your screen or pressing Windows C. The Charms will be content-aware, in other words, the "charms"will be pertinent to the app you are using. The Search charm will soon be your favorite way to find programs, files or apps.

If you think about it, with a touch device you could easily access the Charms Bar with your thumb while still cradling your tablet in a natural position. Kudos to Microsoft on this aspect of design. On a touch device swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up your options.

Desktop

If you updated to Windows 8.1, you now have the choice to go directly to the desktop and skip the Metro Tiles Start screen. Click the Tiled Start Screen click on the Desktop tile to enter Desktop mode. Right-click on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and choose Properties. Use the Navigation tab and check Show my desktop background on Start.

Adding Shortcuts to your Desktop

Using the Start Screen (metro tiles), simply start typing the name of the program you want. When the progam is listed, right-click it and choose either Pin to Taskbar, Pin to Start or Open File Location. Choosing Open File Locations makes it easy to click and drag your program to the desktop or right-click the program file and choose Send to Desktop.

Access all your applications from the desktop. Right-click, new, shortcut. Location: Explorer Shell:AppsFolder Next. Type All Programs and Finish. From here it's easy to drag individual icons to your desktop.

SNAP is still here!

You still can drag a window's titlebar (top) to the side of you screen. The trick is to drag it far enough that you mouse touches the side. Then release. Then drag another window to the other side of you screen and release. For touch devices, pull the window down by swipping from the top so it is not maximized.

There is even a new Snap Screen allowing you to use 320 pixels on either side of your sceen to snap your app. Just drag it's thumnail to the side of your screen and release. When you want it to go away, drag it to the bottom of your screen.

Magical Windows Key

Tiles or Desktop? While using the Start Screen (tiles), notice the Desktop tile is in the lower-left corner of your screen giving you quick access to the familiar version of desktop you know and love. Press the Windows key on your keyboard to switch back and forth between the Start Screen and your Desktop.

Want to bypass the Metro Start Screen altogether? (Windows 8, not needed after 8.1 upgrade) Use Task Scheduler to establish the Retro desktop on startup. Swipe to the upper-right corner to open the "Charms" and choose Search and specify Settings rather than the apps. Type "schedule" to locate and click on Schedule Tasks. Choose Action from the menu bar then Create Task. Call it Boot to Desktop. Switch to the Triggers tab. New... button. Begin the task: At log on. OK Switch to the Action tab. New. Type "explorer" into the Program/script box. OK OK and reboot to test.

 

StoreWindows Store

If your looking for something specific, just start typing — you'll see results for apps that match your search. Here are a few app suggestions to get you started. KitchenTools, StumbleUpon, Micorosoft Solitaire Collection, Flixster, Hot Potato, Remote Desktop. My favorite thing to do in the store is search by any random letter then sort by highest rating to see the best ones.

Shutting Down

From the Metro Tiles Start Screen, swipe to the right to bring up the Charms bar. Choose Settings, then Power and Shut Down. From the Desktop view (if you've updated to 8.1), right-click on the Windows logo in the lower-left and choose Shut down or sign out.

Log Off

sign out

Switch to the Metro Start Screen if necessary. Swipe up to the User icon in the upper-right. Click the User icon and choose Log Off or sign out. The Lock Screen will now be on your screen. Click anywhere and notice the power button in the lower-right. Click it to select Shut Down.

lock screen image

Change your Lock Screen picture using the Charms Bar and Settings. Choose Change PC Settings at the bottom of the screen.
The Personalization screen is easy to navigate. Choose one of the microsoft pictures or browse for one of you own.

The corners of your screen are designed for users not using a touch screen. Lower -left gives you access to your Start Screen.

Upper-left gives you access to the last app you were using. Keep clicking here to cycle through recently used apps. Drag your mouse slightly down to create a list of recently used apps to choose from.

Drag the app to another location on your screen to have two or more apps visible at the same time.

Drag it to the bottom of your screen to close the app.

Microsoft Account

Your Microsoft account gives you access to Micosoft's SkyDrive, cloud storage and the ability to link other cloud services to your account. Your account does not have to be a hotmail account. Any e-mail address you have will work. If you skipped this step during the original Windows 8 setup, go to PC Settings. You can disconnect from your Microsoft account by "switching to a local account." Access your Charms panel, then Settings.

Password Picture

Password Picture is available if signed in with your Microsoft account and allows you to pick any photo and make a series of gestures on it.

SkyDrive

If you have signed into your Microsoft account, your settings will follow you to any Windows 8 device you sign onto. If you are using Office 13, your files will be automatically backed up to SkyDrive.

StartUp Without Virus

Use Windows Defender Offline to create a boot CD allowing you to boot into Windows without activating any resident virus and automatically performing a full scan of your hard drive. Windows Defender Offline is a download that makes a CD for booting and scanning yoru machine for viruses during the bootup process. You'll need to know if you are running a 32-bit of 64-bit machine to download the correct version.

Tiles

Right-Click a tile on the Start Screen to view available App Commands such as Pin to taskbar or resize.

As you install your software, tiles will appear on the right side of your Start screen. Drag them to the location of your choice. Right-click those you don't use and choose Unpin from Start. Want it completely removed? Right-click and choose Uninstall.

Arrange Your Tiles

From your tiled Start Screen, click the minus icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen to zoom out. Your Start Screen becomes minature allowing you to easily rearrage your tiles or groups of tiles by clicking and dragging. Use the Windows Z shortcut to bring up the Customize bar. Click Customize and have fun naming your groups.

Want to see ALL the apps. Right-click on your desktop in a blank area. Notice and click on the All apps button in the lower-right corner. Windows 8.1 places an arrow under the tiles to bring up all the apps.

 

Windows 8.1

Microsoft wants to secure your account with a security code in addition to your password. When signing into your Microsoft account from an unknown device, you'll be prompted for the code. When you see a message asking you to update or verify your security info, you have seven days to comply or Microsoft will lock your account to help protect it. Visit https://login.live.com/ to sign in and edit your security info.

Much of the 8.1 update is for security purposes. For instance, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work policies are updated to allow IT administrators more control over mobile devices (MDM mobie device managment) employees use when connecting to the workplace.

Windows 8.1 is available for the brave at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/preview I found that is took a long time to install but was full of improvements, particularly navigation improvements.

Windows Media Player

To burn CD's using Windows Media Player, tap the Switch to Library icon (bottom-right) then Go to Library. Click the Burn tab on the upper-right side. Insert a blank disc. Now you can drag and drop the files you want to burn from your Player Library to the Drag Items Here area. Click Start.

What if you don't see your files in the Player Library? Use File Explorer to locate them. Right-click and select Included in Library.